Mycotoxins in food
Everyone knows how to avoid food poisoning. But there is a separate group of diseases that develops when consumed as food that seems to be of good quality. These are mycotoxicoses - diseases caused by the ingestion of toxic products of the life 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 to humans and how to avoid their harmful effects on health? Let's find out.
What are mycotoxins
Mold is an inevitable evil and a long-time companion of man's agricultural activity. Biologically active substances produced by mold fungi, a man learned to use for good. A classic example is the antibiotic penicillin, first obtained from the mold of the genus Penicillium. In the broadest sense, it is also a mycotoxin.
What are mycotoxins? These are poisonous substances produced by mold fungi 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 disease, caused by the products of the fungi of the genus Fusarium, was described in Russia. As a result of the disease, people developed osteoporosis and deforming osteoarthritis - joint diseases and bone fragility.
But the large-scale problem of mycotoxins has acquired relatively recently. Scientists attribute this to the intensification of agriculture and the widespread use of pesticides, which violate the natural balance of nature.
According to the WHO, cereal contamination by 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 a group of so-called warehouse mushrooms - they affect raw materials during storage. And fungi from the genus Fusarium develop on plants during the growing season and belong to the group of field mushrooms.
The main sources of mycotoxins in food are:
Mycotoxins can accumulate in meat, milk, eggs and other livestock products.
Mycotoxins and their effect on the human body
Currently, more than 400 species of mycotoxins are known. They are produced by mushrooms of 250 species. And different molds can produce the same toxin - it depends on the conditions. Classification is further complicated by the fact that the fungus produces several types of toxins at once.
Mycotoxicoses are classified by the type of toxin, by the genus of the fungus-producer or by the effect on the body. More widely used is the division of mycotoxicoses by the type of toxin. About 20 groups have practical significance. Consider the most common mycotoxins and their effect on the human body.
- Aflatoxicosis . Aflatoxins are produced by fungi of the genus Aspergillus. Their toxicity is very high: consumption of products with a content of 1.7 mg / kg aflatoxin in a short period can lead to irreversible changes in the body. The lethal dose of aflatoxin for a human is 75 mg / kg of body weight. The toxin destroys liver cells, causing acute toxic hepatitis. There are data on the relationship with liver cancer, 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 fungi Penicillium and Aspergillus. They have high toxicity and pronounced teratogenic effect - violation of embryonic development. Cause acute and chronic kidney disease.
- Zearalenone and its derivatives are the product of the fusarium fusarium activity. It does not have a highly toxic effect, but it has a hormone-like structure. Its effect on the human body is similar to that of estrogen, the female sex hormone.
- Trichothecenes have high toxicity and can cause severe disorders of the nervous system, vomiting and diarrhea, impaired hematopoiesis. In total, more than 40 species of these toxins have been detected, each of which causes a characteristic disease. The known effect of "drunk" bread is due to the effect on the nervous system of toxic substances contained in bread made from affected grain.
- Patulin produced Penicillium fungus and causes the development of cancer and embryo mutation. Can be found in processed fruits and vegetables.
All mycotoxins significantly reduce immunity, and also promote allergic organism. 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 preservation and long-term storage of products. Establish their presence in the body is very difficult, because, entering the liver, the molecule of mycotoxin undergoes changes and forms many different forms. Therefore, the detection of mycotoxins from food products is of primary importance for the diagnosis of the disease.
Mycotoxins in foods
Mycotoxins can be contained both in products affected by mold, visible to the unaided eye, and in a substrate where mold is not visible or has long since died. Therefore, a product of high quality can contain dangerous substances.
To prevent the ingestion of mycotoxins in foods, special state programs have been developed to control the production and storage of cereals, food raw materials and animal feed. There are norms of maximum allowable concentrations of mycotoxins of each group in different raw materials. When passing certification and obtaining a quality certificate, each lot is examined for compliance with standards.
To protect yourself from mycotoxins in food, buy products only in official outlets. This particularly applies to cereals and peanuts. Of the products of animal husbandry, 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 adsorbents of mycotoxins and other toxic compounds, binding harmful substances in the lumen of the intestine and removing them from the body.
The problem of mycotoxicosis is strongly marked mainly in African countries and regions with a subtropical climate. However, in our country, strict control over the content of mycotoxins in food is necessary. They have a pronounced effect on the liver, kidneys, nervous system, can cause inflammation of the skin. Long-term consequences are manifested in the development of cancer, genetic disorders in offspring.
To avoid the influence of poisons on the body, you should buy only products that have been certified, do not have moldy products and observe the conditions of food storage.