Posted April 08, 2016
Posted April 07, 2016
By Graham Ryan and Ryan Greendyk
If You Aren’t Worried About Mold In Your Home, You Should Be
When people think of the factors that determine one’s health, generally things like diet, exercise and genetics are what come to mind.
But as we’re learning, there is one factor overlooked by almost everyone that can completely undermine your health regardless of how dialed your diet and lifestyle are.
This grossly under-respected threat is the presence of toxic molds in your home.
I’d been aware of the potentially destructive effects of having mold in your home for quite a while, but it wasn’t until experiencing mold toxicity myself that I had reason to dive in and learn best practices for avoiding mold exposure - as well as figuring out how to best help the body to combat and heal from mold toxicity.
I’ve spent most of the past year and a half living in what is essentially a tropical jungle (Bali), a more-or-less perfect environment for mold to grow in. I lived in a brand new house that was largely free of mold (as far as I could tell)...until I left for 2 weeks during rainy season.
Two weeks of near 100% humidity (without me being there to run the AC and keep the air dry) was a perfect recipe for mold to grow in the house. Perhaps (in retrospect) unsurprisingly, I returned to find mold growing on some of my clothes. I immediately washed all of my clothes and did a full house clean with vinegar, but the damage was largely done.
There was still mold in the house despite my efforts, but more importantly, in those first couple days I’d been exposed to a large dose of mold toxins.
Over the next few weeks I watched as several health issues arose - my asthma (which had been dormant for 15 years) re-emerged, I had frequent headaches for the first time in my life, and my energy levels and focus unmistakably deteriorated.
I was able to reduce the symptoms using some of the techniques below - but in the end it was only moving out of the house that allowed my body to fully detox and recover.
Even though the mold problem in my home was relatively moderate, it had a massive impact on the quality of my health. The potential health consequences of a major mold contamination are far worse - potentially life-threatening - and yet these are the conditions in which a shocking number of Americans live.
The Frightening Effects of Mold Toxicity
The symptoms of mold toxicity that I personally experienced are only the tip of the iceberg. The ways in which mold can adversely affect your health are so varied and far-reaching there are experts that believe that mold toxicity underlies nearly every ailment for which individuals seek medical attention.
I believe this view to be a bit overreaching, but the point is - there’s good reason mold toxicity is sometimes called “the most prevalent health problem that physicians are completely missing.”
Early-stage symptoms of mold toxicity include the following:
- Asthmatic indicators and other breathing problems
- Skin conditions
Because these symptoms resemble those associated with run-of-the-mill allergies, they’re usually chalked up to a simple allergic reaction to mold, when in reality the effects in the body are much more severe and wide-ranging.
People exposed to toxic mold for any length of time commonly experience fatigue, autoimmune dysfunction, neurocognitive problems (including memory loss), inflammatory issues, migraines, insomnia, depression, panic attacks, and many other serious symptoms. Children can even experience a drop in IQ.
In short, mold is toxic to every single organ in the body, mainly because the mycotoxins it produces are readily able to lodge themselves in tissues throughout the entire body and brain.
Mycotoxins not only suppress immune function, increase inflammation, and stress the entire body—they also have the creepy ability to mimic your body’s natural hormones, and thus adversely alter endocrine function. This is why mycotoxins cause such wide-ranging detriment to our health.
Some of this may sound familiar to you if you’ve read my past articles about mycotoxin-contaminated foods. The mold in your home affects you in precisely the same manner—except protecting yourself from it can be a bit more complicated than simply avoiding certain foods.
Does Your Home Contain Mold?
Let’s outline the process for determining whether your home is contaminated with mold.
First and foremost, never automatically assume that your house is mold-free just because you haven’t physically seen mold growth. This is why avoiding myotoxicity from household mold can be tricky—we often don’t even know the mold is there until it’s already had a major negative impact on our health.
If any of the following conditions accurately describe your living situation, you should have your house tested for mold spores immediately:
- You live in a house built more than 5 years ago
- You live in an area of especially humid climate
- You’re currently experiencing any of the symptoms of mold toxicity listed above
- You’ve ever had water damage anywhere in your home, even just a pipe leaking
Keep in mind, though, that no home is immune to mold growth. Mold colonies can always form in areas of greater moisture (especially those that are tucked away from sight), like underneath sinks and in the shower (including behind the shower molding or casing).
Drier climates don’t necessarily offer protection, because the mold in desert regions can be even more virulent and adaptable, and thus more dangerous to our health.
A 2003 study actually found that 100% of homes contain some kind of mold. Not all homes contain toxic, mycotoxin-producing molds, but this does highlight just how ubiquitous home mold contamination is. 
For these reasons, testing for mold is a wise practice in any home. Compared the the potential health effects of unknowingly living in a mold-contaminated home, the cost of testing is miniscule.
First step is do do a complete visual inspection of potential trouble areas - floorboards, cabinets (particularly near sinks), showers and washing machine rooms should all be scrutinized. Get out a flashlight and thoroughly search for anything that might look like a mold spot or a white mold film.
In the instance you don't see mold don't assume it's not there, mold often lives in the areas that are not visible to us (i.e. behind drywall).
There’s a wide selection of DIY mold testing kits that can be purchased inexpensively online and at home supply stores. Here’s the bad news, though: the vast majority of experts in home mold toxicity believe these inexpensive kits are a waste of money.
Here’s why: Mold test kits are simply “settling plates” that provide an opportune environment for mold to grow, should spores be present in the surrounding air. But since all houses contain some kind of mold, nearly every test will come back positive if left out for a long enough time period.
But most importantly, while tests can reveal the presence of mold, they won’t tell you what kind of mold you have in your home (without expensive laboratory analysis) or where in your home colonies are located. Using a test kit therefore can only lead to two eventualities:
- You receive a false positive, in which case your resulting fear, along with all the effort you’ll then exert to locate the mold contamination, is all in vain.
- Your test kit reveals the presence of an actual, toxic mold contamination, in which case it’s still in your best interest to have a more thorough test performed, and to hire a mold remediation specialist who can deal with the problem. Thus, you’ll have spent more time and money at the end of the process then if you opted for a professional test in the first place.
So while a professional test is an investment, it’s the only reliable route to take. Home mold inspections generally run in the $500-$700 range.
If you would prefer to know more about the mold in your home before making this investment, there is one home testing protocol for which the analysis is sophisticated enough to give you meaningful data. The ERMI protocol will do a genetic analysis of the mold in a sample and compare it against thousands of known toxic strains.
ERMI is not nearly as informative or reliable as having a full home inspection done, but it will tell you a bit more about the types of mold in your home. It’s still not particularly cheap, generally tests cost about $300. Mycometrics is the most affordable of the consumer-facing ERMI testing companies.
Remediation Strategies (Don’t Wait to Take Action)
If and when you discover toxic mold contamination in your home, you need to begin the process of remediation as soon as possible.
Start by removing any visible mold that you find. If at all possible, avoid commercial anti-mold cleaning products, as the chemicals they contain can be nearly as hazardous to your health as mold itself. Instead, scrub off the mold with distilled water mixed with baking soda, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, or borax.
This is important - always wear long sleeves, gloves and a respirator mask during the cleanup process. Don’t risk exposing yourself to a mega-dose of mold toxins in the process of cleaning.
DIY mold removal can only go so far, though. If you discover a large mold colony—particularly one that has been hidden away for some time—don’t try to clean it up yourself.
Major mold contamination is better left to a mold remediation specialist (unless you’ve done lots of homework and are very confident you know what you’re doing)—getting the job done right can be complicated and dangerous. Larger mold colonies pose a much greater risk to your health during cleanup, because of the sheer quantity of present mold spores.
More significantly, though, scrubbing and other cleanup methods can cause the colony’s spores to become airborne. You can end up spreading the spores throughout your entire house, making the problem significantly worse. Mold remediation specialists will properly quarantine contaminated areas of the house in order to minimize the spread of spores.
I won’t sugarcoat it: mold remediation is expensive. The cost can range from $500 to well over $10,000, depending on the extent of the mold colonization. But it’s absolutely worth every penny. In fact, if you ignore your mold contamination problem, your medical bills over the course of your life will almost certainly exceed the remediation cost by many time - and meanwhile, your health will be continually deteriorating due to the toxicity of continuous mold exposure.
If you’re a homeowner, be sure to check whether your insurance covers mold remediation (this is usually the case in flood areas). If you’re a renter and discover major (or even minor) mold contamination, request that your landlord take care of the remediation (in a few states, landlords are required to comprehensively deal with mold issues). If the landlord doesn’t oblige your request, you should seriously consider moving into a new house or apartment.
Ensure that there is good-quality air flow through your home, so that mold spores aren’t trapped inside. These measures do not take the place of actual remediation, but they’ll help lessen the number of mold spores that make it into your body.
Dealing with the mold spores that are already deleteriously affecting your body, however, requires more substantive lifestyle changes.
Minimizing The Effect Of Mold Toxicity On Your Health
The key to overcoming mold toxicity is to optimize your body’s natural detoxification functions, so that toxic spores are expelled from the body before they have a chance to cause too much damage.
1. Diet - The most powerful way to do so is to maintain a diet of detoxifying, antioxidant-rich foods. One simple way to approach this process is to start every day with Synchro Genesis, our perfect blend of nutrient-dense, highly detoxifying foods. If you’re looking for an easy way to transform your diet and enforce positive dietary habits, give it a try.
But remember: when it comes to combatting mycotoxicity (or any other bodily stressor, for that matter), what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat. These are the most commonly mold-contaminated foods you want to minimize your intake of:
- Wheat (and all wheat-containing products)
- Corn (and all corn-containing products)
- Alcohols made from wheat and/or corn
- Cottonseed oil and most other vegetable oils
Steering clear of (or at least minimizing your intake of) these foods and beverages will dramatically boost your body’s ability to battle mold toxicity. All of them are generally unhealthy for you anyway, so cutting them from your diet will yield benefits above and beyond those stemming from reducing mycotoxicity.
Increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich, detoxifying foods will also boost immune and detoxification function by minimizing inflammation, which, as I’ve discussed in previous articles, is a primary cause of disease and sub-optimal health. In this state, your body will be much better prepared to handle the toxicity from mold exposure while you figure out how to remove it from your home.
You can control inflammation in the body even more effectively with turmeric, one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories on the planet. If you haven’t experienced what turmeric can do for your health, try out Synchro Gold, the most potent and bioavailable turmeric product on the market.
2. Gastrointestinal Detoxification - If you’ve been living in a mold-contaminated home or eating mold-contaminated foods for some time, your body might also need to be “reset” with more acute detoxification methods. You can accelerate the detoxification process in your gut by practicing salt water flushes, and by supplementing with natural gastrointestinal detoxifiers such as those found in Synchro DigestCleanse.
3. Exercise is an often-undervalued detoxification strategy - simply getting your heart rate up for a prolonged period and moving blood through tissues helps the body expel toxins that otherwise might get stored in tissues in the body. Pairing your workouts with an alternating cycle of sauna sessions and cold plunges will amplify the speed and efficacy with which your body excretes toxins.
4. Skin - One third of all your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin, so once you’ve kicked your detox system into high gear, it’s beneficial to practice dry brushing in order to remove any toxins that are trapped in your pores—simply run a dry, natural-fiber, long-handled brush over your entire body. Learn more about dry brushing here.
Toxic mold is a serious issue. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of mold toxicity, however minor they may seem at the moment, have your home professionally tested for mold immediately. If you discover mold, take action to get rid of it as soon as possible.
Optimal lifestyle design—including proper intake of detoxifying and anti-inflammatory foods and supplements, regular exercise, and other detox-promoting practices—will minimize the effects of mold toxicity.
As beneficial as these practices are, though, they can only ever be a temporary fix unless you eliminate toxic mold from your home (or move into a mold-free home). Mold remediation can be an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, but it’s worth prioritizing—nearly every aspect of your health depends upon it.
Looking for more on better dietary strategies?
Posted March 11, 2016
Microbiome and gut health are topics I've written a lot of words about over the past couple years.
The bacteria in our gut have an immense influence on our health - our body composition, emotional health and immune function are all strongly influenced by the bacteria in our gut. 
Having a robust, healthy microbiome is a critical part of the foundation for true health. A weak, imbalanced microbiome, on the other hand, can leave you overweight, depressed and sick regardless of how perfect the rest of your diet and lifestyle is.
So, yes - the bacteria in our gut are important, and we've barely scratched the surface of learning the intricacies of how our gut bacteria affect our health.
This increase in awareness around the influence of the microbiome is why probiotics have become a multi-billion-dollar industry over the past few years and are projected to be a 50+ billion dollar industry by 2020.
Probiotics are a significant component of the gut health puzzle, and I'm a huge advocate for the spore-based probiotic Mega Sporebiotic - but they're not the only component.
While PRO-biotics have exploded in popularity, PRE-biotics have gone largely ignored.
I believe this is a huge oversight as getting optimal levels of prebiotics in the diet is arguably the single most important component of the gut health equation.
What are prebiotics?
In short, prebiotics are the components of our foods that our gut bacteria consume and require to live.
If you get optimal levels of prebiotics in your diet, your microbiome will thrive. Conversely, eat a diet deficient in prebiotics and the “good bacteria” in your gut will starve and parasitic bacteria will thrive, creating a long list of negative health effects.
For this reason, getting optimal amounts of prebiotics in your diet is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to maintain a healthy microbiome (and thus, a healthy body).
What makes our relationship to our microbiome so cool is that the prebiotics that our beneficial gut bacteria thrive on are the exact components in our foods that we lack the enzymes to digest and utilize ourselves.
Why Are Prebiotics Important?
Your overall system health is intricately and inextricably tied to the health of the bacteria in your gut. Without adequate levels of prebiotics in the diet, beneficial gut flora suffer and parasitic and pathogenic bacteria can take over and wreck our health.
Below is a list of absolutely indispensable functions beneficial gut flora perform for our body. If your microbiome is imbalanced or otherwise weak or unhealthy, these functions are not performed at optimal levels, or, in some cases, performed in a way that is actually harmful to the body.
Vitamin + Nutrient Conversion
Our gut flora break down prebiotics, and in the process convert them into vitamins and other critical nutrients that then get used by our body. These include:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
- Vitamin B9 (folate)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyroxidine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- Butyric Acid
Immune System Training + "First Line Of Defense"
Having a robust microbiome in our gut and our various other mucus membranes will kill invading bacteria and viruses before they are allowed to make their way into our bloodstream. It is this first-line-of-defense function that compelled some microbiologists to declare that the bacteria in our gut may account for more than 80% of our immune function. 
What we're just starting to learn more about is the role our microbiome plays in training our immune cells to recognize what is a threat and what is not. We now know that there is a complex interaction between our microbiome and our immune cells in which signaling molecules are exchanged in both directions.
There is growing evidence that an unhealthy microbiome doesn't adequately perform the role of training the immune system, leading to an overactive immune system that results in allergies, chronic inflammation and various autoimmune diseases. 
Regulate Appetite, Fat Storage And Weight Gain
Most people assume hunger is a function of the nutrients, or lack thereof, in our body. This is the case to a small degree, but the truth is, hunger is much more accurately described as a hormonal process.
When our blood sugar gets low, cells in our stomach and pancreas release the hormone ghrelin (aka "the hunger hormone"), which, in turn, produces a number of downstream effects throughout the body and brain that we experience as "hunger".
The frequency and magnitude of ghrelin release is influenced greatly by the bacteria in our gut. An imbalanced microbiome can cause ghrelin release to spiral out of control, leading to increased hunger and overeating.
The microbiome also plays a role in regulating insulin release, our body's primary hormone for initiating fat storage. Imbalances in the microbiome reliably disrupt ghrelin and insulin function, and increased fat storage and weight gain are almost always the result. 
Modulate Hormonal Function + Behavior (!)
Insulin and ghrelin are far from the only hormones influenced by the bacteria in our gut. Dozens of studies in recent years have shown that our microbiome is constantly modulating our hormonal system via dozens (if not hundreds) of unique pathways.  This microbiome-mediated hormonal modulation impacts our metabolic function and influences which genes get expressed throughout the body.
But perhaps most intriguingly, our microbiome has been shown to produce neurochemicals that actually change our emotional state and behavior.  Having an weak or imbalanced microbiome has been strongly correlated to clinical depression and anxiety. 
The 3 Types Of Prebiotics
Building a robust microbiome that performs all of these functions optimally requires care in multiple areas - but it's impossible to overstate the importance of getting optimal levels of prebiotics in the diet on a daily basis.
There are three primary types of prebiotics, and different types of beneficial gut flora thrive on each of the three. Miss any one, and part of your microbiome will suffer.
Resistant starch (RS) is fermented by specific types of flora in the colon to form short chain fatty acids (SFCA's) like butyrate. The presence of butyrate in the colon, in turn, stimulates colonic bloodflow and electrolyte uptake.  This is a critical component of colon function and without resistant starches, digestion and nutrient uptake suffer.
Resistant starch is the most difficult of the prebiotics to get consistently in the diet. Food sources include green plantains, uncooked potatoes, jerusalem artichokes and sushi rice - but the best route is to supplement.
In addition to feeding flora and undergoing conversion into various nutrients, soluble fibers are also generally bulky and thus play a critical role in ensuring consistent transit time of food matter through the GI tract.
Sources include carrots, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, beets, plantains, taro and yucca.
Sources include leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, chard, etc.), bell peppers, eggplant, celery, cabbage, bok choi, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli.
Optimizing Your Prebiotic Intake
The reality is, almost none of us are consistently getting optimal levels of prebiotics in our diet on a daily basis, and our microbiome health is well below optimal as a result.
We stand to gain a ton by getting optimal levels of prebiotcs in our diet on a daily basis, and this was a primary consideration I set out to create the formula that is now known as Synchro DigestCleanse.
DigestCleanse is designed to deliver the ideal ratios of resistant starch, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber for microbiome health. A serving of DigestCleanse each day ensures your microbiome has the ideal nutrients it needs to thrive.
In addition, DigestCleanse was specifically formulated to remove stagnant material and toxins (heavy metals, mold toxins) and parasites (candida) from the GI tract.
This combination of microbiome support an GI cleansing + detoxification has a tremendous beneficial impact on digestion quality, nutrient absorption and as a result - overall body-mind health.
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