Is mould hiding in your home or food making you sick?
Exposure to mould can have very negative health effects, even if you are not allergic to it. Reactions can range from minor symptoms such as sneezing or coughing to very serious impacts on your gut and respiratory health.
Unfortunately mould exposure is more common than most people think. Any time a building is exposed to water damage or there are long periods of high humidity, mould will grow. As well certain foods such as grain crops, even fermented foods and dairy, contain the mycotoxins found in mould.
Mycotoxins are toxic byproducts produced by a variety of different moulds. If absorbed by the skin, lungs or gastrointestinal lining, the mycotoxins trigger inflammation and cell stress which may show up as an upper and lower respiratory disease, chronic fatigue and even cancer.
Who can be affected.
Certain people are more susceptible to mycotoxins especially if they are suffering from chronic illness such Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or other allergic conditions. Often age is a major factor with children and the very elderly more likely to be affected. Because mould often has a silent presence ie you can’t see it or smell it, even healthy people can develop sensitivity to prolonged exposure. As well you could be feeling any number of wide ranging symptoms that do not seem to be related:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Memory problems
- Shortness of breath and other respiratory issues
- Chronic abdominal problems
How mycotoxins in mould affect your gut health
1. The mycotoxins change the balance of good and bad bacteria The number of so called bad bacteria (Bacterioides associated with inflammatory bowel disease) increase at the expense of levels of good bacteria (Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria which are associated with improved gut immunity).
2. They also increase the growth of life threatening bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Listeria and enhance the growth of E coli that causes diarrhoea, urinary tract infections and infections of the blood.
3. They weaken the protective barrier in the gut and makes you more susceptible to bacterial, viral and parasitic gut infections.
What makes it even worse is that our western lifestyle of processed foods, high intake of dairy and grains, antibiotic use and stress all make the harmful effects on the gut much worse. Particularly if you are one of the people more susceptible to the effects of mould ie If you have a pre existing condition such as SIBO or Leaky Gut, the changes to the gut bacteria may reduce your ability to process mycotoxins.
4. They damage the intestinal wall and stop the absorption of carbohydrates leading to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), malnutrition and weight loss for the wrong reasons.
What can we do to reduce the effects of mould exposure
1. Take probiotics – good bacteria prevent the absorption of mycotoxins in the small intestine. The best probiotic strains with mycotoxin binding properties are Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L. plantarum, L. casei and Saccharomyces boulardii. Try to look for a multi strain probiotic that contains as many of the good strains as possible.
2. Eat as much as you like of organic meats and seafood, non starchy vegetables, coconut oil and butter, seeds, bone broth. Drink teas such as Rooibus, green and black (without milk).
3. Buy fresh produce and wash just before you eat it. Leaving water on produce even in the frig can lead to mould spores.
- sugar, as excess sugar fuels fungal overgrowth in the gut, a condition that often accompanies toxic mould illness
- avoid packaged and processed foods such as cheese, processed meats and alcohol
- don’t eat foods containing yeast such as mushrooms and dried fruits.
How to avoid mould from food
All foods contain mould but certain foods are notorious for the amounts of mycotoxins. These foods produce aflatoxin, a type of mycotoxin that can cause cancer.
- nuts and legumes especially peanuts and dried beans
- grains and dairy products. Note that cultured yoghurt and kefir is ok
- dried fruits and processed meat
- the longer food sits out after it has been cooked the more likely mould is to develop and grow.
How to remove mould from your home
- Remove mould from the home by washing down walls and ceilings with Oil of Cloves added to warm water.
- Use a dehumidifier in damp or humid cupboards and rooms.
It’s best to assume that if you have been exposed to mould and don’t feel well, then you could be suffering from the effects of mycotoxins in your body. By adopting a healthy diet and removing mould from your surroundings, then you can improve your health and naturally remove the mycotoxins from your system. But be aware it probably won’t happen overnight.