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Living healthy, the health risks of mold and possible remedies

July 26, 2023
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Living healthy, the health risks of mold and possible remedies

The effects that mold can cause on our health but also how we can prevent and remove mold, if it has already formed, on walls, floors and tiles

We are what we eat, we are how we live but we are also what we breathe. In fact, according to recent estimates, 50% of diseases are generated or aggravated by poor air quality in homes and offices. A large contributor to indoor air pollution comes from molds and the mycotoxins that molds can release, such as ochratoxin, aflatoxin and trichothecene. Molds are fungi that grow preferably in humid and warm environments, we can find them in the bathroom, in the most hidden corners of the house, in bedrooms and on entire walls. Molds, however, are not just an aesthetic problem, they cause bad smells and can also undermine health. So let's try to understand what molds can cause to our health, what we can do to detoxify the body from the toxins generated by molds and how to get rid of molds at home.

Mold in the home and in closed environments, the possible damage to health

For a long time there has been a debate on the effects that mold can cause on health. In fact, some experts argued that molds do not cause significant effects except in allergic people and other scientists argued that everyone should pay attention. Recent research brings greater clarity and observes that exposure to any type of mold can cause health problems, since the immune system is activated, allergic reaction is stimulated, inflammation and free radicals increase with a weakening of our natural defenses and with other symptoms such as lethargy, prostration, chronic rhinosinusitis and asthma (Harding et al, Brain Behav Immun, 2021). Indeed, it is believed that more than 20% of asthma cases are attributable to exposure to molds and that the risk of developing asthma increases if you have been exposed to molds in your home before the onset of the disease. But that's not all, long periods of exposure to molds and certainly also a marked individual sensitivity together with the presence of diseases that can weaken the immune system can cause problems such as lung inflammation, autoimmune diseases, kidney toxicity and cellular degeneration (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013 - Cox Ganser et al, Clin Exp Allergy, 2015). Even the brain can be affected by chronic exposure to molds. In fact, studies have shown that children exposed to mold for at least two years had a lower IQ than those who had lived in a healthier environment (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013). Mold exposure can increase the risk of depression and cognitive impairment due to what is called chronic inflammatory response syndrome with an increase in neuroinflammation (Shenassa et al, Am J Public Health, 2007 - Bredesen et al, Aging, 2016). Finally, a link has also been found between mycotoxins and Parkinson's (Kraft et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2021). If we add to these observations the fact that inhaled mycotoxins are more harmful, even up to 20 times more harmful, than those introduced into the body in other ways, then it becomes clear that it is essential to counteract the formation of mold indoors (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013).

Remedies against mold and safe for health

The first action is prevention, removing those conditions that would favor the proliferation of molds. It is therefore important to avoid infiltrations, make taps, washing machines, dishwashers and sinks easily accessible and repairable in case of breakage, clean and dry those surfaces that tend to get wet in the course of daily life, such as the entrance floor or the shower (Institute of medicine US, National Academy press, 2004). Not only that, it is also important to use dehumidifiers and keep the humidity in the house between 30% and 50%, in order to prevent mold formation, and to ventilate the rooms well. If you have extractor fans in the bathroom, turn them on, especially after a shower or bath. But what to do if mold has already formed? Never dry rub mold as this will release spores into the air (Source NSW Government). You can try washing mold off walls, doors, and tiles using water and a cleaner, such as soap. Another method is to use a microfiber cloth soaked in a solution prepared with 2 cups of white vinegar and a liter and a half of hot water. Wet with this solution the affected area, leave for 15-20 minutes and then remove the mold by scrubbing. In any case, however, remember to dry the area. There are also specific detergents against mold on the market, but they contain substances that can be harmful if not used correctly, such as chlorine or bleach. Plus, sometimes, the purpose of certain specific products is to cover the mold, which will then come back quickly. Finally, it can help to use an air filter tool, it will remove the toxins released by the mold.

Mold, how to stimulate the body's detoxification processes

It is also possible to implement some measures to strengthen the body and stimulate the purification processes from the toxins accumulated following exposure to molds. Clay, for example, is one of the most recognized remedies for stimulating the body's purification processes from aflatoxins, since it binds to these substances harmful to the body and promotes their elimination, without altering the absorption of vitamins and mineral salts (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013). To benefit from clay, you can drink clay water, prepared by leaving a teaspoon of ventilated green clay to rest overnight in a glass of water. The next day, drink only the water leaving the bottom of clay.

Then, it is important to follow a balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables capable of providing antioxidants, since many of the damages caused by molds and mycotoxins are due to an increase in free radicals. Not only that, it is important not to miss vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, coenzyme Q 10 and group B vitamins, which participate in the body's detoxification processes (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013). Licorice and melatonin have also been shown to have a protective action against the damage of mycotoxins (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013). Probiotics, which are taken in the form of supplements or drinks that bear it on the label, help protect the liver from the damage of aflatoxins (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013). Finally, don't forget moderate physical activity and a healthy sweat. In fact, many toxins, including some mycotoxins, have been found in sweat, indeed, some can preferably be excreted through sweat (Hope et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2013).

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