Our Moldy World Part 1: Mycotoxins

Share:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn

Some new research has come to light that provides an explanation for why the problem of mycotoxins (mold toxins) in our food supply is becoming worse. This may be the most important post I’ve ever written when you consider how little is known about this information and how big of a problem mycotoxins are for your health and performance.

This blog post is the story of how we accidentally created a monster in our soil, in our homes, and in our food.

The Bulletproof Diet is designed to reduce as many toxins as possible in food, including mycotoxins, the name for toxins formed by yeast and fungi. You’ll find almost no one in the health and wellness community writing about these toxins, although I hope to change that in my upcoming book about nutrition for pregnancy.

We only learned to detect many of the mycotoxins after 1985 and we’re still discovering them, although the first known mycotoxin is ubiquitous. It’s penicillin, the mycotoxin that a fuzzy mold on a cantaloupe produced to kill any bacteria foolish enough to try to also eat the cantaloupe. Alexander Fleming discovered this in 1928, and we’ve been looking for more ever since, and finding them. Another potent mycotoxin is LSD, which is derived from the ergot fungus on grains.

Think about how powerful those are. The tiny antibiotic pill that can cure infection, or the even smaller amount of ergot required to cause potent hallucinations. This should give you an idea of how important some of these toxins are in very small amounts.

Frankly, I wish we were only dealing with antibiotic forming molds and hallucinogens in the food supply. It’s much worse than that. We are facing extremely potent xenoestrogens that cause rapid weight gain and decimate fertility in all mammals including people. There are also potent mutagens that cause cancer. On top of that, we have other mycotoxins implicated in a host of cardiovascular and nervous system diseases, and others that depress RNA synthesis. These things are in our food supply, and many are unregulated.

Other than studies on mycotoxins, I have never seen a nutritional study control for the presence of mycotoxins in the diet even though mycotoxins can have a huge impact on weight gain. Cattle ranchers know about this –they use a purified form of the zearalenone mycotoxin to quickly fatten cattle on less food. (Of course, when you eat those cattle, you will quickly fatten too…)

Round-up: Biohacking the Planet’s Soil “Probiotics” since 1964

Mycotoxins weren’t always such a problem for mankind. We have used them for years when we ferment foods and allow the toxins–including alcohol–formed by yeast to preserve our food. The problems we’re facing now began in 1964. That’s when Stauffer chemical company patented glyphosate, the herbicide now commonly known as Round-up™.

Glyphosate acts by chelating (chemically binding) essential nutrients in soil or in plants, things like zinc, iron, manganese, or copper. This is one of the reasons Round-up™ causes skeletal deformations.  The problem is that soil is a living organism, a complex system, and the microbes in soil are affected by glyphosate too. Soil microbes are to the planet what probiotics are to your gut. Soil microbes keep pathogenic fungi from becoming dominant. In the past 30 years, we have used glyphosate with reckless abandon, and it has destroyed the balance in the soil.

According to Dr. Don Huber, an agricultural scientist and expert in microbial ecology, glyphosate not only destroys protective bacteria in soil, it also promotes more aggressive and virulent pathogens.

It’s Dr. Huber who provides a smoking gun here:

“What we see with the fusaria, which causes sudden death syndrome in soybeans, is that it can be stimulated by glyphosate… so we find [up to] 500 percent increase in root colonization by this fungus. It’s a very serious pathogen, not only on soybeans. Fusaria on most of our crops is a major disease organism that we have to deal with.”

Fusarium is a particularly potent fungi that creates havoc in our agricultural system because it contaminates almost all corn and a lot of wheat and other grains. Even worse, it’s on coffee. (one of the many reasons I created Bulletproof Upgraded Coffee)

Fusarium creates more than a dozen known mycotoxins. The 3 categories you should be thinking about are:

–          Fumonisins which are linked to nervous system irregularities and cancer.

–          Trichothecenes which are the most potent and damaging for people.

–          Zearalenone which is a potent xenoestrogen.


Fumonisin comes in two flavors, B1 and B2. B1 is very scary because corn has been reported worldwide to contain milligrams of fumonisin B1 per kilogram, but B1 starts to affect our health at of micrograms per day. B1 destroys liver and kidney function in all animals tested including people. In people B1 Fumonin causes esophageal cancer and defects of the brain and spinal cord in the human embryo known as neural tube defects. B2 is like B1 but is more mild (at least in chicken embryos).


I have a personal beef with trichothecenes because I’ve lived in water damaged buildings with mold contamination, most likely from stachybotyris, the dreaded “black mold” that also makes trichothecenes.

These toxins work because they are powerful inhibitors of protein synthesis. They react with parts of the ribosome inside a cell and work on contact with your skin or G.I. tract. They don’t need to be metabolized to start harming cells.

Trichothecenes are also used in biological warfare.

In 1950, trichothecenes from fusarium contaminated grains killed 100,000 Russians.  (Joffe, A. Z. 1950. Toxicity of fungi on cereals overwintered in the field: on the etiology of alimentary toxic aleukia. Dissertation, Inst. Bot. Acad. Sci. Leningrad. P. 205.

Just think: that happened before we supercharged fusarium by abusing glyphosate for 30 years.


Zearalenone is well-known by ranchers because it is the primary toxin that causes infertility, abortion, and other breeding problems. Pigs, which have a reproductive system similar to humans, are the livestock most affected by zearalenone. In pigs, levels above 30 parts per million affect semen and hair loss, and exposure to only 3 ppm towards the end of pregnancy creates birth defects.  Zearalenone also causes imbalances in sex hormones.  Young pigs are especially susceptible, as are humans.  In mice, zearalenone causes DNA damage, and is thus a potential carcinogen.

All of this is on top of the rapid fat gain caused by Zearalenone.  Round-up™ is bred into plants like corn.  This means you are getting a double dose of sex organ destroying chemicals, because Round-up™ is also toxic to human reproductive tissue.

Perhaps the worst part is when multiple strains of mycotoxins are present at the same time.  There is evidence these compounds work synergistically to produce negative effects more powerful than the sum of their parts.

This blog post is only half the story of how we got here. Monsanto’s Round-up™ is just one of the two main chemicals that turned our planet’s relatively benign microbial ecology against us. The other is a gift from DuPont, but that will be the topic of another post.

Please watch my mycotoxin video if you’d like to learn more about mycotoxins.

None of this is meant to be alarmist. I’ve read just about every book I can find on mycotoxins, excluding some university level biochem textbooks. I have personally experienced the effects of mycotoxin exposure and it played a major role in my former obesity and chronic illnesses. I am a part of the 28% of humanity that is genetically predisposed to not excrete mycotoxins very well.

Every person I have worked with who has taken the time to reduce their exposure to mycotoxins from their diet and their living environment has experienced significantly improved health and performance. These very powerful, mostly invisible chemicals have a huge impact on how we think and feel every day. Fortunately, most of the time, they can be hacked.  Removing mycotoxins from your food and environment is key to losing fat, improving your mental performance, living longer, and being more.


Share:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn

By Dave Asprey

  • Since not all foods with mycotoxins have equal levels, I’d be interested to know how “Bulletproof” one is by removing just corn and wheat? 10%, 50%, 90%?

    • Good question. Mycotoxins are just part of the equation, so I’d say maybe around 20% or so. Depends entirely on context.

  • dhnaomi

    Great work, Dave, keep it up. I think the public is starting to understand why paying attention to exogenous influences on hormones is so important, so now is such a good time to be posting this stuff!

  • How are mycotoxins affected by boiling water?

    • Dave Asprey

      There are thousands of them, but the main ones we pay attention to are not affected significantly by boiling water. [http://disqus.com/notifications/notification/pixel.gif][http://juggler.disqus.com/event.gif?imp=8661fd9d-434c-4d81-87f9-dd2a252cfde1&zone=notification&thread=620693107&event=email_notification]

  • Rob W

    Dave/Armi, Great info, question I have been washing fruit in water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinager added and it lasts twice as long without molding, good idea?

    • Dave Asprey

      Good idea yes, but the longer it sits, the more histamine it will form. Old fruit is still old even if it’s not moldy.

  • NB: http://www.globalrph.com/antibiotics-other.htm

    most antibiotic doses are not tiny- often in excess of 1g (1000 mg).

  • Do you happen to know which mycotoxins most easily cross the intestinal barrier? (meaning…most worrisome for those with a leaky gut)

    • Dave Asprey

      There is a crohns ibs aflatoxin link for sure.

  • ahmed

    Hi Dave,

    I’m a 22 year old guy who is planning on having a general hormonal blood test, I want to ask you what kind of tests do you recommend in general in order to see if there’s anything wrong?

    Also, I’ve been taking 5 mg melatonin for few months now, and recently read some scary claims about how it could lower testosterone levels, do you have anything to say about that? could it be true, and if it is and it affected me, could the damage be reversible?

    • Dave Asprey

      Haven’t heard about melatonin and testo…melatonin does lower cortisol though.
      5mg is a huge dose. You only make 0.3mg naturally.

  • Jacob Haskins

    Dave and Armi,

    Off topic question…
    I’ve been trying to hack my sleep, but am having a hard time waking up when I want, any advice?


  • Leslie

    Just found you Dave, spot on post. My theory is that autism is caused by chronic mycotoxin poisoning, both in utero and in vivo. Vacines hurt becasue they are incubated in micotoxin filled eggs, then shot directly into the body, thus no chance for the body to detox the poison.

    I went from being disabled to healty when I stopped eating grains, sugar, dairy, soy, peanuts, incredible.

    • Dave Asprey

      Wait until you read “The Better Baby Book!” ?

    • Susan

      in vaccines – also mercury, aluminum and formaldehyde

  • Abqandrea

    How does one find out if we are in the 28%? If a person finds out that they ARE, it makes bulletproof that much more desirable over “regular” paleo or just a whole foods diet.

    • Dave Asprey

      Your HLA genetic subtype determines it. Easier way is if you have hypermobile joints. Can you bend your thumb to touch your wrist, or touch your elbows together behind your back? Those are pretty good indicators. If your wingspan (fingertip to fingertip arms outsreached) is bigger than your height, that’s another sign.

      • Casey Thormahlen

        Do you have any references that discuss which subtypes are problematic for mycotoxin excretion?

  • JohnnyPemb

    Hi Dave. I was directed to your site by Mark Frauenfelder after corresponding with him about mold growth in the homemade sauerkraut process. He changed his sauerkraut making methods to ensure there is no mold growth after reading about the dangers of mycotoxins on your site. Are spontaneous mold cultures that develop along with a bacterial brine such as found in a sauerkraut all that dangerous? if so, what makes things like bleu cheese or any other non-pasteurized dairy product safe and healthy to eat? or do you also not recommend any of those as part of your diet.

    • Dave Asprey

      Yes, spontaneous molds are dangerous. New highly variant strains of mold now exist and you never know what you’ll get.
      Bleu cheese is not very safe and healthy to eat. Roqueforte for instance makes roquefortecin, a toxin that kills bacteria. I have no problem with using highly fermented cheeses medicinally but they aren’t something I put on the Bulletproof Diet because of this problem.

  • Pingback: » Step 7: Identify & Remove Toxins That Limit You The Bulletproof Executive()

  • Gina Rossi

    I was a decent student at Cal till living in three terrible moldy apartments in oakland/berk. I had clear olive skin and quick wits then all of the sudden red blotchy skin, as if I had cellulitis everywhre, and no longer could recall my phone number. visible mold everywhere and threw away all my clothes (armani leather jacket…sigh…so sad)…i am familar w/ dr ritchie shoemaker and his questran protocol…but it will be a while till i find a job and save up to go see him. do you know of any other bile acid sequestrants or products to help…maybe guggulu resin or something? I want my mind/spriit/body back…and yes eating no starch grain helps. thx

  • Pingback: » Another Reason Wheat Destroys Your Performance The Bulletproof Executive()

  • Cat

    Dave, is there a name for the mold blood test you had? I am double-jointed, especially in my thumbs, but the Lyme arthritis is too far advanced to see if I could touch my wrist.

    I am working my way through your site and suspect that mycotoxins are my missing link. but it would be nice to confirm whether I’m still toxin-riddled, or getting it from external food and environment. Already eating 80% per your suggestions before I found your site.

  • Pingback: » How Your House Can Make You Weak The Bulletproof Executive()

  • Irma

    Hey, powerful article, but where are the references? How about Part 2?

  • Pingback: Who Drank Coffee This Morning? | Without A Gym()

  • Mike

    Been exposed to a few NTM Mycobacterium patients recently and seeing doctors recommend low-fat, high whole grain diets to people wasting away is making me more than aggravated when awesome resources like your website are available. Cheers to you about getting the word out Dave!
    PS: Any suggestions on how to recommend here without sounding like a bulletproof evangelist would be greatly appreciated.

  • Dion Filippini

    Dave can i get a link (citation) for the cattle ranchers using purified zearalenone mycotoxin to increase feed efficiency?

    love your articles and really like how you set up your diet. Very user friendly.

  • Pingback: Money Saving Idea for Using and Storing Fresh Herbs | Grass Fed Girl()

  • Interesting new study on Ochratoxin A (OTA). “This is the first study to demonstrate OTA up-regulates 3?-HSD1 expression in human placental cells, indicating the potential endocrine-disrupting property of OTA.” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089062381300052X

  • Another article linking mold to chronic fatigue! http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/5/4/605/pdf

  • Outstanding!

  • Hi Dave,
    Like yourself I believe toxins play a prominent role in health. I am very interested of the potential of crowd funding studies examining the roll of toxins particularly in terms of mental health. My idea would be to work with a schools to find children that are considered “hyperactive.” From there, give them a full screening for chemicals and toxins. It is my belief this study would not demonstrate a causal relationship but it would show a very interesting correlation.

    Curious for a response!



    • Sonna

      I believe you could find school after school that have these problems. I know, from personnel experience, that mold can be life altering. Person after person who have left my former school has had much better health, as have I. We have many children on inhalers at our school.

      And my sister had an unbelievable exposure to mold at her school … it forced her early retirement.

  • Pingback: GMO Foods Acceptable or Not - Page 7 - Homesteading Today()

  • Wayne

    Hi thanks so much for the informative post. If you suspect you have been exposed to mycotoxins and are experiencing many of the symptoms what can you do to be tested to determine if you have been exposed or not. I have not been able to find any information on tests that are available or testing methods.


    • Melissa Everhart

      Go to ehaplabs.com. or biosign labs. They have a mycotoxin test. It is a urine analysis test. I just recently ordered it for my son because my family and I were wrongfully exposed to 18 different toxic molds due to negligence by my builder. I don’t want to go into my horror story, but I have done the research. This lab is reputable, but expensive.

  • Guest

    I suspect inhalation mycotoxins from water damaged structures are a big part of the overall health problem. See “A Review of the Diagnosis and Treatment of Ochratoxin A Inhalational Exposure Associated with Human Illness and Kidney Disease including Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis” Hope, J. H.; Hope B. E. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Volume 2012m Article ID 835059. My “expensive” home was poorly built and had water damage from leaking windows and family got dreadfully sick. Nasty black mold in the walls composed of Aspergillus and Penicillium mold with the mycotoxin Ochratoxin A testing positive. Two most important rules for structures: (1) No water leakage–even minor amounts can be disastrous for future fungal contamination (2) Control the relative humidity–must be 55% or below, preferably 50% or below so both mold and dust mites can’t grow.

    • Melissa Everhart

      How can I get a hold of you? Same thing is happening to my family. I would love to pick your brain. My email is melissa.everhart13@gmail.com.

  • stacy

    I have mycotoxicity (and other dysbioses) from my water damaged apartment and car. Would including fermented foods like Raw Kraut, Apple Cider Vinegar, sugar-free coconut water kefir, coconut yogurt, and Rejuvalac be beneficial (bc they provide probiotics in a natural form), or would these be harmful and perpetuate the issue? I cant find a consensus, and I would love Dave and anyone else to please weigh in


    • Melissa Everhart

      IF you were exposed to specific molds that turn into a yeast, or candida within your body, you should stay away from yogurts, vinegars, cheeses, and fermented foods. Your body will let you know though. Do you feel sluggish and have stomach pain, or diarrhea and/or constipation after these foods? Test them out one at a time for about a week while eating a very bland diet. Some molds even turn into “chemotherapy” when it enters the body. Hope this helps.

  • Pingback: Mould and Mycotoxins in Poultry Diseases Reviews | WWW.JUSTINFOHUB.COM()

  • Pingback: Iron Chelation in Plants and Soil Microorganisms Reviews | WWW.JUSTINFOHUB.COM()

  • Pingback: Mould and Mycotoxins in Poultry Diseases | WWW.DINFOSITE.COM()

  • Pingback: WWW.DINFOBLOG.NET » Mould and Mycotoxins in Poultry Diseases()

  • Pingback: Mould and Mycotoxins in Poultry Diseases · WWW.MYHEALRHOCARE.COM()

  • Pingback: Mycotoxins in Food, Feed and Bioweapons · WWW.MYHEALRHOCARE.COM()

  • Pingback: Mould and Mycotoxins in Poultry Diseases · WWW.BEAUTYSKI.COM()

  • Abe Blue

    So is bulletproof Lsd out of the question then?

    • Lol

      Timothy Leary’s favorite biohack

  • Dana

    You can also be exposed to these same types of mycotoxins via inhalation from a water damaged building…

  • Linda

    What can one take in terms of supplement to get rid of mycotoxins???
    I was sleeping on a water pillow for years without changing the water and
    got very ill with neuro symptoms. Now need to eliminate mycotoxins/mold
    from my body. What’s your detox protocol to accomplish this???
    Thanks so much,

    • Desert Rat

      don’t know Dave’s protocol. most detox with prescription Cholestyramine or Welchol, (Shoemaker) activated charcoal, zeolite and other OTC binders (Hope, Gray), sauna (Rea).

    • Anita

      Linda, you might want to check out this website for mycotoxin cleanse – biofase.net. I just started on the biofase premium enzyme formula so no results yet

  • Pingback: Is there such a thing as Bulletproof Resistant Starch?()

  • Pingback: Bulletproof Diet and Intermittent Fasting - My 30-Day Results - Quantified Bob()

  • Pingback: Food for Consciousness with Nora Gedgaudas – Podcast #136 | The Bulletproof Executive()

  • Pingback: August 3, 2014 I’m harping on processed food AGAIN! | pamperedpoodles4u()

  • Pingback: Hacking Hemp with Anndrea Hermann – Podcast #147 | The Bulletproof Executive()

  • Tiffany

    Which mold species produce xenoestrogens?

  • Joy

    This is right on with my current state with my diet. I have been strictly avoiding known food allergens for over 4 months now, as well as food intolerances/sensitivities. These include dairy, eggs, yeast, kidney/green beans, as well as nightshades and gluten.

    I have read numerous books and articles relating to health over the years, particularly the nutrition and diet connection, all primarily focused on whole foods as well as a no/low sugar protocol. With that said, I also minimize flour intake to a rare occasion and do my best to have a small amt. (For me, it is best to avoid completely, as I can overeat flour products from any food source!)

    Since I had read on the topic of molds in food and aflatoxins over the last year, it started dawning on me that there is a pattern to the foods I have eliminated too. I started realizing this could very well be why I am also noticing improvement in how I feel with sleep, moods, and energy overall, aside from being allergic/sensitive, in general. Every single one of my eliminated foods have been reported as more prominent to mold/aflatoxin, as I have come to understand, so far.

    This leads me to the recent conclusion to eliminate bananas (which I primarily had overripe in smoothie, go figure and I don’t like under-ripe bananas anyhow. I also suspected bananas because it is hard for me to abstain from them. Simply put, it feels addictive, although I don’t usually overeat, but have sometimes had 2 in one day. Still, eating them nearly every day, when there are other options didn’t seem right to me. Yet, it is not near as “addictive” as it feels for flour foods from any source though!
    I am also eliminating soy and corn flour products for the same reason now, and may eliminate all forms of corn for that matter- even corn on the cob. For now, it is just the powdered/flour forms of corn and I will eliminate all soy, particularly soy sauce, which I started feeling a bit anxious after eating which led me to that suspicion (even the gluten free kind!)

    Thank you for your blog and I have signed up for your newsletter. I will be adding a link to your web site information very soon as I have blogged about the diet connection to mold sensitivity just yesterday. I appreciate the reminders I am learning from you, while updating my cumulative knowledge set.

    With great gratitude,

    Joy – Eugene, OR
    Joy Journey to Health

  • Pingback: James Baber: Toxic Mold: The Hidden Dangers - #198 - Bulletproof()

  • Pingback: Dr. Tim Jackson on Heavy Metal Toxicity, MTHFR genes and Genetic Testing()

  • Pingback: Wendy Myers: Heavy Metal Toxicity, Mineral Power, & Coffee Enemas - #205()

  • Pingback: Skip The Gym: Air Quality and Toxins in Fitness Centers()

  • Pingback: Dr. Dwight Jennings: Bite Realignment & How TMJ Impedes Performance()

  • Pingback: MOLDY The Movie: Coming Soon!()

  • Pingback: MOLDY, The Toxic Mold Movie: Watch It Now()

  • Matthew Reiter

    Does anyone have the link to the database where you can select the food and it tells you the likely hood of mold toxins on it. I believe it was in an email they sent?

  • ClintFromNYtoVA

    I have recently been exposed to Alternaria mold spores due to a leaky roof. Seems many are wondering what symptoms are. All mycotoxins all seem to cause leg muscle pain. Even if you can walk without pain check for tender spots up and down the lower leg below the knee and around the ankle and pivot divot. My eye became infected but an 11 day course of itraconazole fixed this.
    Before I knew what it was my skin felt as if it were crawling but no bugs, this is often mold. I think many are walking fungal infections undiagnosed.

  • lisa

    I just bought 9 pounds of whole bean coffee while in the US to cart back to Italy. And i discovered the Bulletproof way last week and ordered Ghee and brain octane oil to make bulletproof coffee. Do I need to throw this coffee out? That would be very, very difficult for me to do. It is Jose’s Vanilla Nut coffee.

  • Pingback: Bulletproof vs. Paleo vs. Ketogenic vs. Low-Carb Diets 101()

  • Pingback: How Mold Can Destroy Your Home and Your Health - Assured Insulation()