- 0.1 Is Toxic Mold Exposure the Cause of Your Symptoms?
- 0.2 How do you know if you’ve been exposed to mold or a water damaged building?
- 0.2.1 Top Symptoms Associated with Mold-Associated Illness:
- 0.2.2 Checklist that might indicate mold exposure or mold sensitivity (from ECH website)
- 0.2.3 How do I Treat Mold/mycotoxin Exposure?
- 0.2.4 Other Treatment Options
- 0.2.5 PODCASTS:
- 0.2.6 More Helpful Resources:
- 0.2.7 Targeting the Underlying Cause of Mold
- 0.2.8 Removing Mold From Your Carpet
- 0.2.9 Removing Mold From Your Clothes and Soft Furnishings
- 0.2.10 Removing Mold From Your Wooden Furniture, Walls, and Other Surfaces
- 0.2.11 Mold and Your Prized Possessions
- 0.2.12 Avoiding Mold Cross-Contamination
- 0.2.13 1. Check your home and office for mold
- 0.2.14 2. Clean up your air
- 0.2.15 3. Get on a low mold diet
- 0.2.16 4. Use detox binders
- 0.2.17 5. Adopt detoxifying techniques
- 0.2.18 Introducing the International Society of Environmentally Acquired Illness
- 0.2.19 Detoxing to support your health
- 0.2.20 GI Detox
- 0.2.21 Upgraded Coconut Charcoal
- 0.2.22 Using Binders for Mold Detox
- 0.2.23 Other Detox Strategies Worth Considering
- 0.2.24 Add Detox to Your Daily Routine
- 1 THE LOW MOLD DIET
Is Toxic Mold Exposure the Cause of Your Symptoms?
Are you one of the many people unknowingly living or working in water damaged building? Did you know it may be dramatically affecting your health? It’s estimated that indoor air pollutants, including mold and mycotoxins may be contributing to more than 50% of our patient’s illnesses. Typically we think of smog, smoke, and outdoor pollution as detrimental to our health but indoor air quality may be an even bigger risk to your health. Many patients are unaware that a toxic home or workplace is contributing to their symptoms.
Exposure to water-damaged indoor environments is associated with exposure to molds. The most common types of mold that are found indoors include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. Stachybotrys chartarum (sometimes referred to as “toxic black mold”) is a greenish-black mold, which grows on household surfaces that have high cellulose content, such as wood, fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint and is usually an indicator that there has been elevated moisture present or previous water damage.
Some molds secrete mycotoxins, that can be measured in the urine, such as ochratoxin, aflatoxin, and trichothecenes. Exposure to mold and mold components is well known to trigger inflammation, allergies and asthma, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction in both human and animal studies. Mold spores, fungal fragments, and mycotoxins can be measured in the indoor environments of moldy buildings and in humans who are exposed to these environments. Most of the time, we are exposed to molds, like stachybotrys, through the skin contact, through ingestion, and by inhalation. Most common are reports of exposure involve water-damaged homes, schools, office buildings, court houses, hospitals, and hotels. It’s estimated that as many as 25% of buildings in the US have had some sort of water damage. Molds have the ability to produce various symptoms, such as skin rashes, respiratory distress, various types of inflammation, cognitive issues, neurological symptoms, and immune suppression. The most common symptoms associated with mold exposure are allergic rhinitis and new onset asthma.
How do you know if you’ve been exposed to mold or a water damaged building?
Top Symptoms Associated with Mold-Associated Illness:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Headache, light sensitivity
- Poor memory, difficult word finding
- Difficulty concentration
- Morning stiffness, joint pain
- Unusual skin sensations, tingling and numbness
- Shortness of breath, sinus congestion or chronic cough
- Appetite swings, body temperature regulation,
- Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
- Red eyes, blurred vision, sweats, mood swings, sharp pains
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating
- Tearing, disorientation, metallic taste in mouth
- Static shocks
- Vertigo, feeling lightheaded
Checklist that might indicate mold exposure or mold sensitivity (from ECH website)
- Do musty odors bother you?
- Have you worked or lived in a building where the air vents or ceiling tiles were discolored?
- Have you noticed water damage or discoloration elsewhere?
- Has your home been flooded?
- Have you had leaks in the roof?
- Do you experience unusual shortness of breath?
- Do you experience recurring sinus infections?
- Do you experience recurring respiratory infections and coughing?
- Do you have frequent flu-like symptoms?
- Do your symptoms worsen on rainy days?
- Do you have frequent headaches?
- Are you fatigued and have a skin rash?
How do I Treat Mold/mycotoxin Exposure?
- Remove yourself from the contaminated environment first. (don’t even think about going on to other treatments until you get out of the contaminated environment)
- Avoid exposure to porous items (paper, clothing, etc) from the moldy environment.
- Use clay, charcoal, cholestyramine or other binders to bind internal mycotoxins
- The Shoemaker protocol has proven effectiveness for cholestyramine powder or prescription Welchol as off-label bile sequestering agents to decrease total toxic load of mold and other toxins from water damaged buildings.
- I also recommend Upgraded Coconut Charcoal or GI Detox to bind toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and Glutathione Force to support glutathione, which is often depleted in toxin-related illness.
- While you are using binders, you must maintain normal bowel function and avoid constipation. You can add magnesium citrate, buffered C powder, or even gentle laxatives if needed but constipation is the enemy of detoxification!
- Treat colonizing molds/fungal or bacterial infections in the body
- Common locations of colonization include sinuses, gut, bladder, vagina, lungs
- Test and treat for candida overgrowth – living in an environment with mold leads to immune dysregulation that allows candida to overgrow in the body in some immunocompromised patients
- Enhance detoxification support
- Some common supplements used to aid detox are liposomal glutathione, milk thistle, n-acetylcysteine, alpha lipoid acid, glycine, glutamine, and taurine. Methylation support is also key and involves optimal levels of methylcobalamin (B12), methyl-folate, B6, riboflavin, and minerals
- Invest in a high quality air filter and home and at work, like Austin Air Healthmate Plus
- Dr. Jill is a professional dealer for Austin Air will offer you a discount if you are interested. Call Amy at #303-993-7910 to order and we will drop ship to your home!
- Avoid common mycotoxin containing foods:
- Corn, wheat, barley, rye, peanuts, sorghum, cottonseed, some cheeses, and alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer. Others include oats, rice, tree nuts pistachios, brazil nuts, chiles, oil seeds, spices, black pepper, dried fruits, figs, coffee, cocoa, beans, bread.
Other Treatment Options
- Follow Dr. Jill’s Low Mold Diet – many patients to well on a paleo, grain-free diet since grains are often contaminated with mycotoxins and molds
- Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)
- Anti-fungal herbs and medications
- Infared sauna
- Detoxification support – oral and IV
- Remediation procedures for environment and belongings
- Create a “safe” place, with little potential for mold/allergens and great filtration system – this could be a bedroom or other room that is mold and chemical free
- Some patients benefit from IV immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg)
Here is a chart from article in Townsend Letter July 2014 that explains sources and binders for common mycotoxins:
- NEW Better Health Guy interview on MCAS and Mold
- NEW Video Interview with Jay Davidson on Mast Cell Activation, Mold, and Gut Health
- Podcast with The SpaDoctor, Dr. Trevor Cates onThe Impact of Mold Exposure on Your Health
- Kirk Hamilton’s Podcast – Staying Healthy Today: CIRS and it’s affect on the Brain
- Podcast: Ultimate Health Podcast – Mold, SIBO, Mind-Body and more!
- Podcast: Mold Mycotoxins and Water Damaged Buildings Interview with Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness… LISTEN HERE
- CLASSIC INTERVIEW with Mike Mutzel of High Intensity Health: Testing for Mold Exposure
- Be sure to watch Dave Asprey’s documentary MOLDY here
More Helpful Resources:
- Read Experience Life Magazine May 2016 Article… It Could Be Mold!
- Guidance for Clinicians on the Recognition and Management of Health Effects Related to Mold Exposure and Moisture Indoors
- A Review of the Mechanism of Injury and Treatment Approaches for Illness Resulting from Exposure to Water-Damaged Buildings, Mold, and Mycotoxins
- Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome – Dr. Berndtson
- Slide Presentation on Mold Toxicity
- Paradigm Change – information on role of mold toxins in Chronic Neuroimmune Disease
- Real Time Labs – Urinary Mycotoxin Testing
- Fungal spore DNA detectible in tissue and body fluids of patients exposed to moldy buildings
- Stachybotrys chartarum: Review of Toxicology Literature
THE LOW MOLD DIET
The Low Mold Diet. Use this guide to shift your diet away from high sugar and starchy foods to more fresh, whole foods. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to mold or mycotoxins, read my post on mold exposure here.
Foods that must be avoided
Avoid sugar and sugar containing foods: Table sugar and all other simple, fast releasing sugars such as fructose, lactose, maltose, glucose, mannitol and sorbitol. This includes honey and natural sugar syrup type products such as maple syrup and molasses. This also includes all candies, sweets, cakes, cookies, and baked goods.
Sweetleaf whole leaf stevia concentrate may be used in moderation
High sugar fruits:
- Avoid pineapple, mango, banana, melons, oranges, and grapes
- Organic berries, apples and lemon/lime are ok
Packaged and processed foods:
- Avoid canned, bottled, boxed and otherwise processed and pre-packaged foods as they more often than not contain sugar of one type or another.
- Canned – Baked beans, soups, ready-made sauces.
- Bottled – Soft drinks, fruit juices, all condiments and sauces.
- Boxed/Packaged – Ready-made meals, breakfast cereals, chocolate/candy, ice cream, frozen foods.
Mold and yeast containing foods:
- Cheeses: all cheese, especially moldy cheeses like stilton are the worst, buttermilk, sour cream and sour milk products.
- Alcoholic drinks: beer, wine, cider, whiskey, brandy, gin and rum.
- Condiments: vinegar and foods containing vinegar, mayonnaise, pickles, soy sauce, mustard, relishes.
- Edible fungi: including all types of mushrooms and truffles.
- Processed and smoked meats: sausages, hot dogs, corned beef, pastrami, smoked fish, ham, bacon.
- Fruit juices: All packaged fruit juices may potentially contain molds.
- Dried fruits: raisins, apricots, prunes, figs, dates, etc.
Foods ok to be eaten in small amounts
- Gluten-free grains: brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, teff, certified gluten-free oats
- High starch vegetables and legumes: sweet corn, potatoes, beans and peas, lentils, sweet potatoes, squashes, turnips, parsnips.
- Fruits: low sugar types such as berries, apples, pears and peaches.
Foods to be eaten freely
- Organic pastured animal products: beef, bison, veal, lamb buffalo, wild-caught seafood, poultry, pastured eggs
- Low carbohydrate vegetables: broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, arugula, chard, cucumber, peppers, tomato (fresh only), onion, leek, asparagus, garlic, artichokes,
- Raw nuts and seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, low mold nuts (No peanuts, walnuts, pecans,cashews, brazil nuts, )
- Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, ghee, avocado, organic butter
- Other: Tempeh, Miso, Apple Cider Vinegar
- Beverages: Filtered Water, non-fruity herbal teas, mineral water, fresh veggie juice
If you’ve struggled most of your life with depression and nervousness, or even tend to feel a little down in the dumps, you might want to check to see if you are undermethylating. Methylation status something I regularly check patients for because it’s a process the body needs to run diverse and vital functions, but oftentimes their methylation processing isn’t quite balanced – causing them to undermethylate or overmethylate.
Last week I published an article about overmethylation because I felt like it is a topic that is not commonly addressed and yet effects many people. Of these two sister conditions, undermethylation tends to get more of the attention but still it’s important we clarify the differences, some common misconceptions, and a natural treatment options so you can do your best to reduce its impact in your life.
So let’s briefly revisit methylation. Methylation is a biochemical process used throughout your body like a little light switches for turning on repairing DNA, producing energy, regulating hormones, detoxification, synthesizing neurotransmitters, and more. Undermethylation occurs when someone doesn’t have enough methyl groups to switch on certain processes. Most people methylate properly but if you fall on either end of the spectrum, you’re going to feel it.
12 Symptoms of Undermethylation
Though undermethylation and overmethylation both share anxiety as a symptom, people who are experiencing a lack of methylation are typically experiencing anxiety that’s more geared towards perfectionism tendencies. Where as people with overmethylation tend to have extreme anxiety accompanied with panic attacks in some cases.
Here are 12 symptoms of undermethylation:
- Nervousness and perfectionism
- Low serotonin activity
- Obsessive compulsive behaviors
- High libido
- Ritualistic behavior
- Digestive issues
Undermethylation is associated with MTHFR mutations C677T, A1298C, MS, BHMT, MAT and SAHH. Please keep in mind that when you get a genetic test, you getting a list of possibilities and it is not definitive to whether or not you are undermethylating or overmethylating. That being said, it’s a good way to know which way your body might tend to behave.
What Causes Undermethylation?
There’s a common misconception that the genetic mutations associated are what cause under or overmethylation. However, it’s not that simple. While genetic mutations might make it more likely that you’re not methylating enough and there are also likely environmental causes. Toxin and mold exposure, high-stress environments, nutrient deficiencies, and even emotional trauma seem to potentially affect methylation in the body.
While there’s no one definitive cause of undermethylation, if you come to the conclusion that that’s what’s happening in your body and causing your symptoms, you’ll want to address the underlying causes by restoring the related factors. When it comes to naturally healing your body so it begins to methylate at a normal rate, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough precursors, co-factors, and supporting your body’s detoxification processes.
An Undermethylation Diet
Here are some of those precursors and cofactors you should add to your diet to help with your undermethylation:
- Choline – An important methyl donor.
- Glutathione – Low glutathione levels can impair methylation.
- Copper – Many methylation enzymes require copper for reactions.
- Magnesium – Plays an important role and gene methylation.
- Folate – An important methyl donor.
- Zinc – Insufficient zinc levels can reduce the body’s ability to use methyl groups.
- Vitamin B2 – Helps recycle folate so it’s a usable methyl donor form.
- Vitamin B3 – Maintains proper methylation of genes, which helps resist tumor formation.
- Vitamin B6 – A cofactor for an important enzyme that helps transfer methyl groups.
- Vitamin B12 – A key enzyme used in the synthesis of your body’s most important methyl donor, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe).
- SAMe, methionine, or TMG can also be taken
Foods to avoid:
- Vegetable oils
- Processed foods
Foods to enjoy:
- Organic fresh vegetables
- Grass-fed beef
- Wild caught salmon
- Full fat yogurt
- Eggs (if tolerant)
Basically, the key here is to eliminate things that often cause people problems such as common food sensitivities and inflammatory foods. It’s going to be really important for you to go on a whole food plant-based diet. Then you’ll want to focus on the nutrients listed above because they are essential for methylation.
Juicing probably won’t feel great for you because there’s high concentrations of folic acid, which can cause people who are undermethylating problems. Folic acid depletes methyl groups in the nucleus of the cell where DNA is made. Outside the nucleus, folic acid can actually contribute to the methyl groups in your body. This can be confusing because it seems to contradict itself, but the most important thing to remember is that folic acid usually inhibits detoxification processes and therefore it doesn’t feel great for somebody who’s undermethylating.
You’ll also likely benefit from reducing histamine in your diet. This is because high histamine levels and undermethylation are associated.
Undermethylation & Histamine
Another thing that can contribute to undermethylation besides the MTHFR gene mutations and environmental causes, are high levels of histamine in the body. Histamine is an important mediator released by your mast cells to cause acute inflammation. Histamine gets a bad name but in reality we need histamine to help get important immune system elements to injuries and to attack Invaders. That being said, it’s fairly common to experience high histamine in such a way that it becomes problematic.
What can contributes to histamine levels?
- Overactive mast cells
- Fermented foods
- Cured meats
- Smoked meats
- Canned foods
- Pickled foods
Noticing a theme in the foods listed above? This is because as foods sits, it breaks down and creates histamine.
If you suspect undermethylation is causing you problems, I encourage you to seek out the help of a functional medicine doctor with experience in this area. Through testing and careful recording of your diet and lifestyle, you and your doctor should be able to help you reduce the number of factors that are contributing to your undermethylation.
If you’re interested learning more about overmethylation, I encourage you to check out my blog: Is Overmethylation The Cause of Your Anxiety?