The death of a young boy in the UK caused by mold toxicity has recently brought to light how serious mold exposure can be to our health.
Whether you heard about this sad story or not - many people are unaware of mold exposure symptoms, mold illness and how it occurs, so I will start by giving you some background information.
Mold Exposure & Mold Illness
Quite simply, mold illness is provoked by exposure to toxic molds, typically from water-damaged buildings.
This type of water damaged environment becomes a breeding ground for mold and mold spores, which start to produce harmful byproducts called mycotoxins, and harmful gases called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The obvious and essential first step solution in is to remove yourself from the water damaged building. Remediation of the area and moldy environment to help protect you and your family from developing mold illness is crucial before detoxing from mycotoxins.
Mold Exposure Symptoms
While there’s a widespread lack of mold toxicity awareness, it’s unlikely to affect everyone in the family, household or workplace too which leads further to mycotoxins (mold toxins) being overlooked as a root cause of illness.
There’s also a wide range of mold exposure symptoms associated with toxicity so it can affect people in different ways. For example, one person in the household could suffer from a skin rash and another may experience asthma, headaches, brain fog or constipation.
In most cases mold exposure symptoms following the inhalation and ingestion of mold spores, or the exposure to the byproducts of mold metabolism, mycotoxins and VOCs will strike when an individual’s immunity is weak.
Once mycotoxins are in your system, they can cause a host of health problems. These toxins can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact.
Essentially, in mold toxicity, systemic immune dysregulation, and subsequent chronic inflammation are the underlying features that drive symptoms. Illness from mold exposure is much more than mold allergies. Someone can test positive for mold allergies and experience mold toxicity at the same time.
While some people can quickly clear mold spores and mold biotoxins from their bodies, others are not so fortunate. Common mold exposure symptoms of toxic mold illness include:
- Asthma & chronic cough
- Anxiety, panic attacks, irritability & depression
- Brain fog, headaches, migraines
- Chronic fatigue
- Eye watering and itching
- Gastrointestinal dysfunction, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, appetite swings and leaky gut syndrome
- Histamine intolerance
- Increased risk of infections
- Muscle aches, joint pain & morning stiffness
- Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS)
- Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and EMF sensitivity
- Respiratory infections
- Sinus congestion & infections, nasal drip
Mycotoxins & Gut Health
Mycotoxins circulate in bile which means the gut is continuously exposed to them. In addition, fungi can grow in the gut, crowding out beneficial bacteria that are necessary to maintain a healthy gut. Both of these factors compromise gut health and may result in gut related disorders such as food sensitivities, yeast overgrowth, histamine intolerance, mast cell activation, chronic bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
The Widespread Impact of Mold Toxicity
Mold illness is like the Grandfather, sitting at the top of the hierarchy controlling the entire shebang. What I mean by this - is for instance if your gut infections or gut dysbiosis are being driven by mold toxicity, it doesn’t matter how many times you work to rebalance and repair your gut you won’t ever fully be able to do this without detoxing from mycotoxins first.
Let me give you another example - mycotoxins can wreak havoc with the liver which can then cause insulin resistance, hormone imbalance, mood swings, fatigue…
Mycotoxins & Vagus Nerve Dysfunction
Mycotoxins from mold spores also damage nerves leading to demyelination (damage to the myelin sheath around the nerve) and reduced nerve function. This in itself is pretty serious if you think about how the vagus nerve plays a role in the function of virtually every organ in the body.
So, the consequences of a damaged vagus nerve in the gut due to its role as innervator of the gastric nervous system and subsequently the migrating motor complex, will likely be decreased bowel motility and a contributor to the development of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Mycotoxins & Food
While water-damaged buildings are the primary source of mold exposure for the majority of people affected by mold illness, chronic exposure through contaminated food can add to the toxic burden along with moldy foods.
Generally, food becomes more of a problem when the body is already compromised. If you are struggling with toxicity and mold exposure symptoms, a low-mold diet may be helpful. Each person is different and any dietary changes should be personalised and practical.
How to Detox from Mold & Mycotoxins
1. Follow a Low-Mold Diet
The first and one of the most important steps of mold and mycotoxin detox is following a low-mold diet.
This will help to prevent mycotoxins from growing inside the body while simultaneously helping to detox your system, restore nutrient deficiencies and imbalances.
It will also strengthen your body’s immune function and its ability to repair itself by minimising inflammatory foods that suppress your immune system.
Plus by reducing your exposure to refined carbohydrates you will starve the candida and yeast.
It’s impossible to avoid all foods contaminated with mycotoxins, so look at the big picture and work on things systematically.
Remember that any food can have fungal toxins on it. Inspect food before buying and prepping meals. Remove any parts that have spoiled or developed mold. If the food has developed mold, air on the safe side and avoid it.
Low Mold Foods:
- Low-sugar fruits - berries, pears, and peaches.
- Pasture-raised, organic poultry - chicken, turkey and pheasant
- Wild-caught fish - salmon, sardines, anchovy, tuna and herring
- Grass-fed, organic meat - beef and lamb
- Leafy greens - spinach, romaine, kale, green and red cabbage
- Vegetables - broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, celery, courgette, cucumber, onion, garlic and asparagus, squash and eggplants
- Raw nuts and seeds - Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds
- Herbs and spices - Himalayan salt, turmeric, ginger, mint, thyme, cayenne pepper, sage, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary and tarragon
- Healthy fats - avocados, coconut oil, coconut milk, organic butter and ghee, and extra virgin olive oil
- Drinks & beverages - filtered water, mineral water, non-fruity herbal teas, fresh green juices, and fresh green smoothies
Foods typically high in mycotoxins:
- Grains (including corn, wheat, barley and rye)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Nuts (including peanuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts)
- Sugar (sugar cane and sugar beets)
- Hard cheeses
- Coffee beans
- Dried fruit
Mold exposure symptoms can feel overwhelming and recovery can take time. As well as remediating any current mold exposure from water damaged buildings and following a low-mold diet, you can enhance your detoxification and support your recovery process with the following tools.
2. Use Detox Binders & Detox Enhancing Supplements
There's lots of binders, it just depends on the mycotoxin(s) you want to remove, as to which one would work best.
Glutathione and NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine - a glutathione precursor) is a powerful antioxidant to support your liver in its fight to detox mycotoxins. Not everyone can tolerate glutathione though.
3. Water Is Essential
Drink enough water to keep your body hydrated so it can move toxins out effectively.
4. Get Enough Sunlight
Blue light has been found to have antifungal properties, and the best source of blue light is the sun.
Sunlight also stimulates the body’s production of vitamin D, which itself has antifungal and immune strengthening properties.
If sunlight is sparse I recommend supplementing with vitamin D3 and K2 as these nutrients work together synergistically.
And just to reiterate, remediating any current water damage or mold present in your home is absolutely critical to recovering from mycotoxins.
Most of the time, clients are unaware they have been exposed to mold - until they get tested, or start to remember the house they lived in years before their health started to deteriorate.
Testing for mold toxicity is easy and if you'd like to get yourself checked for mycotoxins or need help with mold exposure symptoms and detox, reach out to me here.
Any questions or thoughts on this post or the toxic effects of mold exposure do comment below. I love to hear from you.
Hello, I'm a Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, Breathwork Instructor and Pain & Stress Management Therapist with heaps of experience of helping others tweak and transform their health and life.
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