What happens When you Eat Mold?
You may have seen dark, fuzzy blotches growing on foods such as bread, cheese, meat, and fruits. These growths are called molds. You must have often wondered is moldy food safe to consume and what happens if you eat mold?
But, have you ever thought how mold grows in the first place? They grow inside the food as well as on the surface of it. Four conditions are favorable for their growth- water, suitable air quality, food, and temperature.
In layman terms, a mold is a fungus that feeds on dead or dying organic matter and needs readily available food for its growth. What happens if you eat moldy bread will depend on the kind of mold that grows on the bread.
It may cause moderate reactions like a stomach ache or serious reactions like infections.
Related Reading: What Causes Nausea After Eating and How to Treat It?
Can We Eat Moldy Bread?
The most common notion you would have heard about moldy food is to avoid it strictly since eating mold is dangerous, and may cause a variety of problems.
However, what if we told you that it was okay to have some moldy foods? In fact, some foods are processed with mold as an essential ingredient. Blue cheese, for instance, is made from a type of mold that is safe to consume.
Other food and beverage items that include mold as an ingredient are:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Some packaged fruit juices
- Soy sauce
- Stilton cheese
But if you are allergic to molds or have a yeast infection eating such foods may not be good for you.
The extent of mold growth is different in salvageable and non-salvageable foods. Salvageable foods are those through which mold cannot easily penetrate. Such food items are edible after cutting out the mold-infected part.
Such foods include vegetables like cabbage and bell peppers, and other items like hard salami, hard cheese, and dry-cured country ham.
Non-salvageable foods, on the contrary, are foods which have more moisture, and hence are softer and easy to penetrate.
Food items such as bacon, yogurt, grains/pasta, jelly, etc. should be discarded immediately if you see mold growing on them.
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What Happens If You Eat Mold?
Eating mold may cause a variety of adverse effects in your system. We often think that its okay to eat infected food if we cut out the moldy part.
However, mold has root-like threads that penetrate within the foods (especially within non-salvageable foods) and infect the entire substance.
What happens if you eat moldy bread by cutting off the moldy part? It means you are still consuming fungal growth. While there is no need to panic, eating moldy bread or other moldy foods can cause slight discomfort.
If you suffer from mold allergies, it could lead to respiratory diseases and eye irritation. Severe food poisoning, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting are some examples of what happens if you eat mold. You are more prone to these side effects if you have a weak immune system.
You may wonder how does a strong immune system prevent a fungal infection if you accidentally eat moldy bread. Well, it may happen that after consuming molds the acids in your stomach will kill it.
What to do if you eat moldy bread? The first thing on your list should be consulting a doctor. Eating moldy substances may sometimes cause dire consequences.
A poisonous substance called mycotoxins is produced by some varieties of molds. This substance can cause illness in human beings.
Out of all types of mycotoxins, the most dangerous one is aflatoxin which grows on grains and nut crops. Both grains and nut crops are common ingredients of bread.
So, what happens if you eat mold would depend on the quantity of aflatoxin that enters your body. Strict monitoring of aflatoxin occurs in food production factories all over the world since this is known to cause cancer.
What to Do When You Eat Mold?
The most common answer to what happens if you eat mold is food poisoning. You must stay hydrated when suffering from food poisoning since water helps flush out toxins from your body.
Food Poisoning Treatment
One of the best home remedies for food poisoning or its symptoms is ginger tea. You can also eat raw ginger slices.
Among other treatments, apple cider vinegar also works well in alleviating food poisoning symptoms. It kills the bacteria and soothes the gastrointestinal lining to give instant relief. You can have it undiluted or can mix it with hot water.
In case you accidentally eat moldy bread, you can also take one tablespoon fenugreek seeds with a spoon of yogurt. This will sooth symptoms of food poisoning which is a likely result of consuming mold.
Yogurt has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and hence, is an excellent remedy to heal your stomach. Having lemons or basil leaves can also prove to be reasonably effective in killing bacteria.
Nausea Treatment When You Eat Mold
When you eat mold you may start feeling nauseous. While there are foods that help in settling nausea, laying down for a while is a good option, too.
Moving around too much can disturb the balance mechanism of your ear, leading to an enhanced feeling of nausea and vomiting.
Drinks with high sugar levels can work wonders in settling nausea. Nibbling on light foods like a toast or some crackers can be a good idea. Ginger tea is also a good idea to relieve nausea.
Related Reading: How to Use Essential Oils for Nausea?
Treatment for Stomach Ache Caused by Eating Mold
Eating moldy bread can cause stomach ache, among other things. While cramps are annoying and may not let you focus, it is possible to get rid of them through some simple home remedies. One of the most effective herbal remedies for curing stomach ache is mint.
This fresh and crisp herb’s compounds have natural properties that relieve pain. You can either chew leaves or make peppermint tea. Lemon tea and chamomile tea can also help reduce tension throughout your body and alleviate pain.
Warm salt water is another remedy that works efficiently. You may even want to try some gentle yoga stretches to soothe the cramps. Some poses help in stimulating digestion and can relieve you of bloating, and as a result, can help you get rid of pains.
The knees-to-stomach pose helps in providing quick relief. (Draw your knees up to your chest; hold your legs with your arms to maintain the pose. Make sure your back is flat on the ground).
Related Reading: Upper Left Abdominal Pain: Possible Causes and Treatment
Treatment for Vomiting Caused Due to Eating Mold
Eating mold may often result in vomiting. It can be prevented by having water, sports drinks, or broths. You should avoid having juices and soft drinks. It is a good idea to eat light and bland foods, such as plain bread or some crackers.
If the vomiting sensation prolongs, you might find it useful to find vegetables and proteins that don’t upset your stomach. You must avoid sweets and fried and greasy foods. Do not eat too fast and do not eat much.
Small meals eaten slowly, should help you retain your meal. You must also rest after eating, but make sure you elevate your head.
How To Prevent Mole Formation?
Now that we have gained some insight into what happens if you eat mold, let us see how you can prevent mold from getting formed on food surface.
One of the most basic, but most essential precautions you must take is to cover your food with plastic wraps or with container lids while storing in the refrigerator.
It is advised to cover your food even while serving on the table. Make sure you store your food in a clean refrigerator. For this, ensure that you clean your refrigerator with baking soda on a regular basis.
While it may be practical to make extra food for the coming week or to get groceries (especially bread) for the entire week, it is also important to ensure that you bring and make food in realistic quantities. It is mandatory to check expiration dates when buying groceries.
Consume leftovers within four days; it is not a good idea to keep them stored beyond that. To prevent mold from forming on food, do not leave perishable items out of the refrigerator for more than two hours at a time.
While we have understood that some moldy foods are exceptions and edible, it is safe to conclude that it is overall a bad idea to consume foods with molds.
What happens if you eat mold is that you feel nauseous, you get stomach cramps or you end up with stomach infections. Prolonged side effects of eating mold must not be taken lightly.
You must visit the doctor for medical advice. Try to cook fresh food as often as possible. If not, make sure you consume leftovers within a reasonable time. You must not treat expiration dates with any leniency.