What Happens if You Eat Mold Spores?

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Chances are you've seen those dark-green colored spots invading old breads, cheeses and meats. As food ages, mold takes over. The results can be unappetizing and unsightly, but is it dangerous if eaten?According to the United States Department of Agriculture, molds are microscopic fungi living on plant or animal matter. There are thought to be as many as 300,000 species of molds, and some can in fact be harmful to your health if ingested.

mold growing on bread
mold growing on bread (Image: Mike Wiggins/iStock/Getty Images)

The Anatomy of Mold

When viewed under a microscope, molds look like skinny mushrooms. These multi-celled organisms have a body that consists of root threads, which secure the mold to the food it preys on, a stalk, which rises above the surface of the food, and spores, which form the bulbous end of the spores stalk.

close up of mold
close up of mold (Image: Evgeniy Mitroshkin/iStock/Getty Images)

Effects of Eating Mold

It is nearly impossible for the average person to distinguish between harmful and safe molds. Many types of mold are benign have little to no effect, while others can be extremely dangerous with long-term exposure. The most common symptoms of mold ingestion include diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach.

woman with stomach ache
woman with stomach ache (Image: AnaBGD/iStock/Getty Images)

What to Do if Mold is Eaten

The symptoms of mold ingestion are relatively minor and will go away on their own without any intervention. If you are concerned, taking absorbing activating coal or absorbing salts can help bind the bacterial toxins in mold. If symptoms persist for more than 72 hours, consult a physician as a precaution. However, for peace of mind, realize that eating mold spores may not be the healthiest choice, but it's highly unlikely to cause any serious damage.

patient speaking with doctor
patient speaking with doctor (Image: Alexander Raths/iStock/Getty Images)

Controlling Mold

Mold can grow anywhere, but thrives in warm and moist environments. Cleanliness is key to minimizing mold growth. Mold spores can build up in many areas of your kitchen, including the refrigerator, pantry, dishcloths and other cooking utensils. Control mold growth by sanitizing all areas in your kitchen at least every few month. Try to keep the humidity level your home below 40 percent. Examine foods that are commonly associated with mold growth before purchasing and using the products. Only buy enough food that you can consume in a week. Following these simple steps will greatly reduce the chances of finding mold on the foods you eat.

moldy tomatoes
moldy tomatoes (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)

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