Removing Mold & Mycotoxins From Your Body
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, there are approximately “1,000 species of mold in the United States.”
It’s well-known that most forms of mold are harmful substances. While there are select types of “good” mold (e.g. strains that create various cheeses and life-saving medications), many types of mold can damage your health. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing that is immune to mold. From your living room, to your outdoor patio, to your coffee beans, mold can grow just about anywhere. As you will see, removing mold (and the resulting mycotoxin) exposure can impact almost every area of your health and your life.
How can you escape the dangers of mold and mycotoxins? Discover the ways both substances affect the body, as well as strategies for removing mold and mycotoxins from your environment and your body.
What is mold?
The official dictionary definition of mold is the “woolly growth produced especially on damp or decaying organic matter or on living organisms by a fungus.” As stated earlier, not all mold is detrimental to one’s health. These growths only become problematic when they produce toxic forms of the chemicals known as mycotoxins.
What are mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are the harmful chemicals1 that are emitted by particular strains of mold. Scientifically, they are known as the “secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals.” Just as with the mold in which they are produced from, there are select kinds of mycotoxins that have positive uses (e.g. antibiotics). However, many can lead to serious health problems. This is due to the impact of mycotoxins on the body’s mitochondrial function.
Symptoms of mold exposure
Common symptoms of exposure include brain fog, depression, skin irritations/rashes, fatigue, joint pain, and inflammation to name a few.
If you have been suffering from a seemingly random array of symptoms that have no known cause, mold could be the answer. Because mold has the ability to affect the whole body with a broad range of symptoms, many individuals suffer for much longer than they should before receiving a diagnosis.
Mold exposure symptoms include:
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Runny nose
- Skin irritations/rash
- Poor sleep
- Immune suppression
- Cognitive impairment
- Digestive issues
- Thyroid issues
Mold in your diet
Levels of mold that are significant enough to impact your health are found in many common food and beverage items, including one of America’s most popular beverages.
Something that shocks many people is that, even in diets that appear healthy, mold is lurking. More specifically, the molds found in various kinds of food can produce damaging mycotoxins. Some commonly consumed foods and beverages that contain mold (and mycotoxins) include grains, corn, cocoa, wine, and coffee.
The most damaging mycotoxins found in food and beverages today
- Aflatoxin: This kind of mycotoxin is known for being exceptionally carcinogenic in mammals, including humans2. Although not experienced in developed countries, there have been reports of individuals in many Third World Countries developing a condition known as acute aflatoxicosis3. This condition results from exposure to high levels of aflatoxins, and is characterized by symptoms such as “vomiting, abdominal pain, pulmonary edema, convulsions, coma, and death with cerebral edema.” For those in developed countries, concerns exist for the potential impacts of low-level, long-term exposure found in one’s diet.
- Ochratoxin A (OTA): Research has shown that consumption of OTA can cause kidney damage and cancer4. Foods and beverages with the highest levels of OTA include oats, wheat, maize, barley, raisins, dried vine fruits, wine, beer, coffee, and cocoa5. In addition to possible carcinogenic effects, OTA has been found to be genotoxic6, and detrimental to gut bacteria7.
- Fumonisin B1: This mycotoxin naturally occurs in many foods. The main problem with this mycotoxin is that it “impairs myelin formation in aggregating brain cell culture.8”
The key to removing mold from your diet is to choose foods and beverages that are low in mold and the above-listed mycotoxins. Some foods are naturally more prone to mold than others, so it is crucial to be aware of this when creating a meal plan for your week.
Coffee, Mold & Mycotoxins
Coffee is especially vulnerable to mold and mycotoxins. One study9 that examined the quality of several raw coffee samples uncovered residue from 117 different kinds of pesticides, as well as 30 mycotoxins. Raw coffee isn’t the only kind of coffee that is at high-risk for contamination. Research found that Arabica and Robusta coffee can easily become contaminated by the mycotoxin OTA10 post-harvest and that green coffee beans often contain mycotoxins.
Due to its prevalence, pay a lot of attention to choosing coffee with low OTA. Eliminating the OTA stops jitters, headaches, stomach aches, and the crash that moldy coffee can cause. Consider a keto coffee method to also slow the absorption of caffeine into your system.
Removing mold in your home
In optimal conditions, mold can grow in your home within 24-48 hours.
Another high-risk area for being exposed to mold and mycotoxins is your home. The EPA estimates that “60% of all buildings have mold or other air quality hazards.” Every room and outdoor space is susceptible to growing harmful strains.
Risk factors for developing mold in your home include:
- High humidity levels (above 50%)11
- Water damage
- Poor ventilation
In reducing your mold exposure, prevention is key. This is especially true if your home has been hit by a major water event, such as flooding or a hurricane.12 Immediately cleaning up water damage, keeping humidity levels at <50%, and ensuring proper ventilation are all great ways to prevent mold from growing in your home.
However, there are some exceptional strategies for removing mold from your home if growth has already occurred:
- A product called Homebiotics. Rather than using bleach when removing mold, this spray is a natural way to prevent and eliminate mold.
- Although HEPA air filters are a great way to keep your home free of allergens, having a photocatalytic air purifier goes steps further in removing mold. These air purifiers reduce mold by disinfecting the air (up to 3,000 square feet).
Identifying mold in your body
“20-30% of people can't respond to toxic exposures of mold from water damage and excessive mycotoxins found in food.”
If you suspect that you are already experiencing symptoms of mold exposure, steps must be taken in removing mold from the body. You can first confirm the presence of mold in the following ways:
- VCS Test: The VCS Test is an online visual test that can help confirm the presence of biotoxic illness, as well as possible symptoms caused from mold and mycotoxin exposure.
- Blood testing for mold: The C4A compliment detects recent mold exposure, while the TGF-Beta 1 is indicative of longer-term mold exposure.
- HLA DR/DQ: This gene is “located on chromosome number 6, and it encodes a protein called an MHC Class II protein.” Testing for this gene can reveal your genetic susceptibility to biotoxin illnesses.
As hinted at above, your genes play a large role in your body’s response to mold and mycotoxins. The HLA DR gene helps the immune system respond to environmental threats. It is estimated that 20-30% of people do not respond well to toxic exposures of mold from “water damage and excessive mycotoxins found in food.”
Additionally, over 25% of people carry the HLA-DRBQ gene. For those who have this gene, the body does not make the antibodies needed to deactivate and remove mold toxins. In other words, the body doesn’t recognize the presence of mold toxins as something to be eliminated. As a result, toxins become trapped, which can result in the manifestation of mold exposure symptoms.
One major problem for those who store mold toxins within their bodies is the fact that these toxins are lipophilic. This means that the molecular structure of mold toxins consists of fatty acid molecules. For this reason, “mold toxins migrate to and deposit in the brain because the brain is the ‘fattiest’ organ, consisting of 60% fat.”
After mold toxins have entered the brain, they begin to destroy neurons and hormone production by affecting hypothalamus function. The resulting damage can eventually lead to many other symptoms and chronic health challenges.
Once the presence of mold within the body has been confirmed, you can take the following steps for removing mold:
- Mold can cause candida to grow in your body. Simple strateiges are berberine, high dose garlic, a good probiotic, and MCT oil to stop and eliminate candida growth.
- Sweat out mold toxins in an infrared sauna. The use of infrared saunas in combination with glutathione was proven effective in helping people return to work after mold illness from a water damaged building.13
Detox Supplements & Research
- CytoDetox™: This specialty detox product (made with Hydrolyzed Clinoptilolite Fragments) can help eliminate mold toxin buildup within the body.
- Use high-quality probiotics.
- Take supplements that increase glutathione within the body. GCEL is a wonderful supplement in this category to try. N-acetyl cysteine is also an excellent choice, as it has been shown to replenish intracellular glutathione14. Among its many benefits, glutathione is known to decrease oxidative stress15, and help overcome autoimmune diseases. Research has found that low levels of glutathione can be an underlying cause of oxidative stress16
- Binders: Most toxins are processed by the kidney or liver. Fat soluble toxins (such as mold) are processed by the liver, and are put into the bile complex. The bile complex is then emptied into the small intestine. Adding binders (as well as high-quality activated charcoal) can bind aflatoxins and mycotoxins to aid in successful toxin elimination17. Activated carbon has also “been shown effective at removing BPA and common pesticides” from the body18.
- Using natural treatments such as antioxidants, antifungals, clay, and chlorella have also been proven effective in removing mold and mycotoxins19.
- Since mold can aggravate autoimmune conditions, it is even more important for those with one of these conditions to be vigilant removing mold and mycotoxin exposure. Follow these 7 keys to any autoimmune diet protocol.
Is there a known safe level of mycotoxins?
Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no.’ The United States government has yet to establish maximum safe levels for mycotoxins in the air of buildings. In fact, the US has some of the worst standards for mycotoxins in the world.20 This is due to practices such as “intentionally feeding animals moldy feed right before slaughter, disrupting their hormones so they gain more weight.” Studies show that the United States also has the “most severe mycotoxin problem of any country.”
As a step in the right direction, however, some European countries have set maximum safe limits. Additionally, you can access worldwide data about mycotoxins in your region right on your phone.Want more information on understanding the symptoms of mold exposure and mold hypersensitivity syndrome21?
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