Aflatoxins - poison from expired products
When buying products on the market or in a store, we hope for their proper quality. But it is not known how nuts, dried fruits, grains, dairy and other food products were stored. Sometimes they can be deadly.
We are talking about fungi, affecting food under the wrong conditions. If there is high humidity and heat in the warehouse or in the house, this can lead to the appearance of a specific mold on some types of food products. This mold releases aflatoxins - very toxic substances that can cause poisoning or even death.
Aflatoxins in food
Aflatoxins are one of the most dangerous groups of toxic substances secreted by the fungus from the genus Aspergillus flavus. If stored improperly, aflatoxins may be contained in the following products:
- dried fruits;
- industrial juices (fungi breed on packages);
- baby foods;
The most common source of aflatoxin is peanuts.
Which group of toxins is aflatoxin? Aflatoxins are mycotoxins, that is, poisons that produce mold fungi. The largest amount of aflatoxin is in the yellow mold. There are 4 main types of aflatoxins - B1, B2, G1, G2. In addition to them, there are so-called metabolites. There are 10 of them - M1, M2, B2a, G2a, GM1, P1, Q1 and others. Aflatoxin B1 is found mainly in grains, coffee, tea, cocoa, nuts, and dried fruit. They are the most common and have strong carcinogenic properties. Aflatoxin M1 can be found in dairy products.
Aflatoxins in tea appear because of its improper and long-term storage. Few people know that tea and coffee, in fact, have a shelf life. If tea leaves smell like mold, then it is better not to drink such a drink. Especially dangerous teas with flavors, dyes, as they can hide the moldy smell.
Aflatoxins in bread can be found if it was produced from poor raw materials.
How do aflatoxins
Mycotoxins can enter the human body directly by eating food containing mold or through meat, milk, eggs poisoned by aflatoxins of animals. Their main target is the human liver. The impact occurs at the cellular level. The mechanism of action of aflatoxins is to suppress protein synthesis. Poisons affect the liver cells, causing their death or replacing their contents with fatty tissue. Fatty degeneration of the liver significantly reduces its functionality. If aflatoxin B1 is the cause of acute poisoning, then not only the liver, but also the heart, kidneys, and spleen can be affected. In addition to the death of liver cells, toxins of fungi lead to liver cancer.
Aflatoxins have not only a hepatotoxic effect. They also have mutagenic, embryotoxic, immunosuppressant and teratogenic (harmful to the fetus) actions.
When a lethal dose of aflatoxin is consumed, a person’s death occurs within two days due to the massive death of liver cells and the development of acute liver failure. Toxic dose of aflatoxin is 1.7 mg / kg, and lethal - 75 mg / kg.
Aflatoxins in products can be contained only in a certain amount. The minimum dose set SanPiN. The permissible content of aflatoxin B1 in nuts and cereals is 0.005 mg / kg.
Milk, cheese, mold toxin eggs should be no more than 0.0005 mg / kg.
The high toxicity of these substances causes a large number of deaths as a result of poisoning.
But even if severe poisoning does not occur, with the systematic use of aflatoxin, they act on a person as follows:
- disrupt the metabolism of vitamin D and reduce the strength of bones;
- reduce the formation of bile salts;
- slow down the absorption of fats and pigment substances;
- violate the exchange of minerals (iron, copper, phosphorus);
- reduce immunity;
- children cause stunted growth and development.
- decreased appetite;
- ataxia (uncoordinated movements);
- paresis, paralysis;
- pain in the liver;
- hemorrhages on the skin and mucous membranes.
Aflatoxin begins to affect a person within the first 30 minutes. The following symptoms appear:
The liver ceases to perform its basic functions. Hemorrhages are caused by impaired protein formation of the coagulation and anticoagulation system. All types of exchange are reduced. Suffering and the production of immune bodies, cleansing the body of toxins.
With regular use in low doses, fractures occur due to osteoporosis, weight loss, delayed mental and physical development in children.
Chronic aflatoxicosis threatens with cirrhosis of the liver. If a nursing mother consumes foods that are infected with Aspergillus spp., Then aflatoxins can be transmitted with her milk to the baby. Then, due to the constant low-dose exposure, the baby may also develop cirrhosis of the liver. Symptoms of cirrhosis develop rapidly - within 17 days.
A remote consequence of aflatoxicosis is carcinogenesis. If the poisoning develops on the background of hepatitis B or C, then the risk of liver cancer increases many times over. In children with acute poisoning with high doses of aflatoxins, vomiting, convulsions, and coma very quickly occur. Up to 80% of children with such symptoms die. In case of acute aflatoxosis, you should immediately seek medical help, because the condition worsens with every minute and severe irreversible damage to the liver and nervous system occurs quickly.
The total duration of the course of light or moderate poisoning is 10–15 days.
Prevention of poisoning with aflatoxins
When buying any products should look expiration date. This also applies to tea, coffee, cocoa, nuts. Pay attention to the sanitary conditions in which food is located. Aflatoxins in nuts and other snacks can form if they are sold on the open market. Especially in the fall and in damp conditions, it is worth questioning their goodness.
Pay attention to the smell and color of the product. There should be no unpleasant odor and coloration. If, nevertheless, there is a suspicion that the product is hazardous to health, it can be attributed to the examination and to recover compensation from the seller.
Buy high-quality food is not enough - you need to keep it at home properly. For this suitable dry dark room with low humidity. It is better not to make supplies, but to buy fresh nuts in smaller quantities, but often. If they still have mold, it can not be scraped, washed with soap, fry, and so on, and then use the product. Aflatoxins are not only on the surface of the product at the site of mold, and they are resistant to high temperatures, soap and alcohol.
If nuts, dried fruits, cereals, we can check for ourselves, then what about dairy products? In this case, in order to protect oneself, one should purchase milk, cheese, cottage cheese produced by a prestigious company that does not neglect quality control. If you suspect a poor product can be attributed to milk for examination. The definition of aflatoxin M1 in milk is done using a special test and takes only 10 minutes.
Baby food requires particularly careful inspection, because we are talking about the health of our children.
- Carefully check the expiration date on the jars, packages.
- Before you give the child food, try it yourself, taste and smell.
- Packages for cereals and milk formulas must be carefully checked inside and out.
- It is necessary to strictly observe the storage conditions of each product.
- Do not store baby food in the open form longer than provided by the manufacturer.
The carcinogenic effect of aflatoxin is reduced by the following products:
Therefore, these products should be included in the diet of adults and children.
Let's sum up. Among mycotoxins, aflatoxins are the most dangerous. They are found not only in grains, nuts, dried fruits and peanuts, but also in milk, cheese, cottage cheese, bread, meat, eggs. These toxins have a negative effect on the liver, nervous system, kidneys, spleen, heart. Cirrhosis can develop in a short time in both adults and children. The carcinogenic effect of these substances on the liver has been proven. Primary liver cancer is especially often the result of aflatoxin poisoning, if there is concomitant hepatitis. It’s easy to protect yourself - you just need to choose and store products correctly, pay attention to the shelf life, their color and smell, as well as eat vegetables that reduce the carcinogenic effect of aflatoxins.