Mycotoxins in food
How to avoid food poisoning, everyone knows. But there is a separate group of diseases that develops when eating seemingly high-quality products. These are mycotoxicoses - diseases caused by ingestion of toxic waste products of mold fungi - mycotoxins. Most of them are dangerous with regular exposure, in addition, they have the ability to accumulate in organs and tissues, gradually poisoning the body.
How harmful are mycotoxins for humans and how to avoid their detrimental effects on health? Let's find out.
What are mycotoxins
Mold is an inevitable evil and an old companion of human agricultural activity. Biologically active substances produced by molds, man learned to use for good. A classic example is the antibiotic penicillin, first obtained from a mold of the genus Penicillium. In a broad sense, it is also a mycotoxin.
What are mycotoxins? These are toxic substances produced by molds under certain conditions. They are aimed at suppressing the activities of other forms of microscopic life, but for the fungus itself are not dangerous.
The diseases caused by them are known for a long time. More than 150 years ago, Kashi-Bek’s disease caused by the products of the vital activity of the Fusarium fungi was described in Russia. As a result of the disease, people developed osteoporosis and deforming osteoarthritis - diseases of the joints and bone fragility.
But the problem of mycotoxins has acquired a large scale relatively recently. Scientists attribute this to the intensification of farming and the widespread use of pesticides that disturb the natural balance of nature.
According to the WHO, the infestation of grain crops with mycotoxins in the world reaches 25% of all raw materials stored for storage.
The main producers of mycotoxins are mushrooms of three genera:
Aspergillus and Penicillium belong to the group of so-called storage mushrooms - they affect the raw materials during storage. And mushrooms from the genus Fusarium develop on plants during the growing season and belong to the group of field fungi.
The main sources of mycotoxins in food are:
Mycotoxins can accumulate in meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products.
Mycotoxins and their effects on the human body
Currently, more than 400 types of mycotoxins are known. They produce 250 species of mushrooms. Moreover, different molds can produce the same toxin - it depends on the conditions. The classification is complicated by the fact that the fungus produces several types of toxins at once.
Mycotoxicosis is classified by type of toxin, by the type of producer fungus, or by the effect on the body. The separation of mycotoxicosis by type of toxin is more widely applied. About 20 groups are of practical importance. Consider the most common mycotoxins and their effects on the human body.
- Aflatoxicosis . Aflatoxins are produced by fungi of the genus Aspergillus. Their toxicity is very high: the consumption of products with a content of 1.7 mg / kg of aflatoxin for a short period can lead to irreversible changes in the body. The lethal dose of aflatoxin for humans is 75 mg / kg body weight. The toxin destroys liver cells, causing acute toxic hepatitis. There is evidence of a relationship with cancer of the liver, the manifestation of mutagenic and teratogenic effects (a violation of the gene structure, manifested in deformities in subsequent generations).
- Ochratoxicosis . Ochratoxins are produced by the genus Penicillium and Aspergillus. They have high toxicity and pronounced teratogenic effect - a violation of embryonic development. Cause acute and chronic kidney disease.
- Zearalenone and its derivatives are a waste product of the Fusarium mushroom. It does not have a highly toxic effect, but has a hormone-like structure. Its effects on the human body are similar to those of estrogen, a female sex hormone.
- Trichothecenes are highly toxic and can cause severe disturbances of the nervous system, vomiting and diarrhea, impaired blood formation. In total, more than 40 types of these toxins were detected, each of them causes a characteristic disease. The known effect of "drunk" bread due to the impact on the nervous system of toxic substances contained in bread, made from the affected grain.
- Patulin is produced by the fungus Penicillium and causes the development of cancer and mutation of the embryo. May be contained in processed products of vegetables and fruits.
All mycotoxins significantly reduce immunity, and also contribute to the allergization of the body. Some of them cause the development of skin diseases.
Mycotoxins are practically not destroyed under the influence of high temperature, sunlight, in the process of canning and long-term storage of products. It is very difficult to establish their presence in the body, because, when it enters the liver, the mycotoxin molecule undergoes changes and many different forms are formed. Therefore, the practical importance for the diagnosis of the disease in the first place is the allocation of mycotoxins from food.
Mycotoxins in products
Mycotoxins can be found both in products affected by mold, visible to the naked eye, and in the substrate, where the mold is not visible or has long died. Therefore, a quality-looking product may contain hazardous substances.
To prevent mycotoxins from getting into food products, special state programs have been developed to control the production and storage of grain crops, food raw materials and animal feed. There are norms of maximum permissible concentrations of mycotoxins of each group in different raw materials. When passing certification and obtaining a quality certificate, each batch is examined for compliance with standards.
To protect yourself from mycotoxins in food, buy products only in official outlets. This is especially true for cereals and peanuts. Of animal products, the greatest threat is milk, then eggs. In animal meat, mycotoxins accumulate in smaller quantities.
For the prevention of mycotoxicosis, you can take drugs from the group of intestinal sorbents: Polyphepan MP, Enterosgel, Enterosorb and others. They are the adsorbents of mycotoxins and other toxic compounds, binding harmful substances in the intestinal lumen and removing them from the body.
The problem of mycotoxicosis is strongly marked mainly in countries in Africa and regions with a subtropical climate. However, in our country, strict control over the content of mycotoxins in food is also needed. They have a pronounced effect on the liver, kidneys, nervous system, can cause inflammation of the skin. Distant consequences are manifested in the development of oncological diseases, genetic disorders in the offspring.
To avoid the influence of poisons on the body, you should buy only products that have passed certification, do not eat moldy foods and observe food storage conditions.