March is here which means warmer temperatures, a welcome for some and a sad end to cooler hiking temperatures for others (I’m in this side of the camp!). This also means humidity is rising and in our tropical city, humidity can go up to 90% or more. Having such high humidity may be great for our skin but can cause other issues like water retention and the most concerning - mould!
Mould in your Home
Mould has unfortunately a common problem in many Hong Kong homes. All homes can be a perfect breeding ground for mould to grow. Oxygen, warmth, darkness and with some dampness from e.g. humidity or a leaking air conditioning unit, is a mould’s happy place to grow and flourish. Although mould can also grow in cold temperatures (usually on fabrics like carpets and curtains), the majority of mould grows in wet and damp places. If you’re having a mould problem in your home and you’re wondering what it is, this is a great site that lists out the different moulds with pictures that can help you identify them.
It’s important to note that mould can often be hidden to the visible eye like behind wallpaper or behind painted wooden surfaces. Mould can also be found in unlikely areas like your mattress and humidifier.
Some warning signs of potential mould in your home are:
- Leaking pipes
- Musty smells
- Water damage, soft or wet walls
- Bubbling paint or wallpapers
- Discolored wood or walls
- Unexplained fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sudden mood swings
Mould in your Food
Mould can be dangerous to and toxic especially when living in that type of environment for so long. However toxic mould is not only found in our environment but can also be found in our food and I’m not talking about the mouldy apple that has been sitting on your kitchen table uneaten. I’m referring to your rice, quinoa, nuts and seeds and beans stored in your cupboard.
Mould in food is a well known thing. Countries have set regulations controlling mould in our food. But no country has regulations on multiple moulds and the safety of mould A and mould B.
Below is a short list of foods to be aware of that could potentially be carrying mould:
- Rice, quinoa, oats and other grains
Nuts and seeds (cashew and peanuts are the top two nuts that often have traces of mould, with 27 and 24 types of fungi that can produce mycotoxins respectively (!)
Beans and legumes
- Coffee (!) lots of people don’t think about this one
- Corn (and sometimes even meat that’s been fed a lot of corn!!)
Chocolate (I apologize to the chocoholics but for chocolate purists you probably already know the difference even in taste between top quality chocolate and the supermarket kind that could be a fester ground for mould. The chocolate making process and the quality is so important. Read my article about chocolate here.)
Here is an exhaustive list, you’d be surprised at how many things contain corn and have the potential of carrying mold toxins!
Does this mean you can’t eat any of the above? No. But if you are doing a mycotoxin detox, it may be wise to stay away from those sources or be sure that your food sources are clean and have been tested of mycotoxins. It is through my own encounters with mycotoxins that I went on the search for a clean organic brand of superfoods and supplier of nuts and seeds that were being tested for mycotoxins. Listen to why I endorse Organic Traditions as my go to trusted brand below.
Effects of Mould
Mycotoxins, the toxins that mould makes has been a contributor to fatigue, brain fog, chronic illness, inflammation, mood swings and depression. Mould lowers your ability to regulate your emotions due to the inflammation in your brain from the mould. So if you know a certain someone that has some issues with their mood you could perhaps ask them to look into mould toxicity before drawing any conclusion about their character. Just saying! 😜
25% of people have a genetic polymorphism that cannot fight off these toxins and are much more susceptible and may have severe reactions. For others, the original tolerance to mould can be dampened over time and reactions to it will come after prolonged exposure and stress to the body. Mould is a serious health concern that even the WHO (World Health Organization) and the CDC (Centre for Disease Control & Prevention) have published research on the link between mould and certain illnesses like asthma.
I once tested for mould toxicity (because I love getting tested for everything! #blessed and #obsessed) and lo and behold I not only had mycotoxins but the levels were high! 😱 This was when I was a vegan and living off of nuts, seeds, beans (and spoonfuls of nut butters 😆) for my protein source. I can’t attribute them as the only source to my high mycotoxin levels but I’m sure there was a correlation.
What to Do ?
After that devastating report, I quickly went home to check my home for any mysterious fungus lurking around. I found a few greyish dark spots in the corners of my home and since I could see it with my visible eye I knew that there was probably much more behind the wallpaper.
It wasn’t long after that I met a man selling essential oils in Hong Kong. For the longest time I had refrained from recommending any kind of essential oils because I simply didn’t have enough information about them and had a hard time trusting the manufacturers.
When he came to convince this skeptic (ME!) about his organic essential oils, he also brought along his tea tree filtration system, the Gel Air Health E-Split . And I’m so glad he did! This award winning product is one of the simplest ways to kill bacteria and mould with no fuss. It contains 60 ml (6 bottles) of tea tree in one unit and simply fits into your air conditioning unit which almost always has mould growing and starts doing it’s work once you turn it on. Learn more about how it works and the studies done on it here.
The reason why we want to target the air conditioning unit is because it’s often the source of the mould with the condensation it produces. If you have leakage or a damp bathroom you can opt to diffuse specifically in those places.
When it comes to mould fighting essential oils kick butt!
- Tea Tree is extremely powerful but so are other oils like…
- Rosemary : which destroys a lot of varieties of black mold
It’s good to rotate the essential oils because they all target different types of moulds. Kind of like rotating our probiotics =)
How to tackle mycotoxins in your body?
If you think you may have some mycotoxin in the body or you’ve done a test like me and the report shows toxicity, or if you just want to do a cleanse that specifically targets these moulds, then there are some specific supplements that can help with this.
Many of us are zinc deficient due to a depletion of our soil yet it’s one of the foundational minerals that fights mould and fights pathogens. This is also why zinc is so important for our immune system.
Spirulina is very efficient at pulling mould out of the body and together with its abundance of nutrients that can cover a lot of deficiencies needed to detoxify well, it becomes a good superfood to add into your mycotoxin detox plan
charcoal is very important in both absorbing the mycotoxin and through your natural elimination you will eliminate it.
B vitamins are crucial for our detoxification process. A deficiency in just one type of B vitamin could inhibit your body from effectively removing the toxins out though they could be bound in the spirulina or charcoal. This is why it is so important for us to be taking a methylated (read: activated) B vitamin complex to support the detoxification process to eliminate the toxins rather than have it recirculate in our body.
Read more about how to effectively detox here.
Other supporting nutrients are:
- Vitamin D3
- Melatonin: Toxic mould also depletes melatonin and we all know that to heal well you need to sleep well. And so adding in a high dose melatonin (10-20mg) while you’re on this mycotoxin detox may be a good idea especially if you are not sleeping optimally.
- B12: Scientific research also shows that those with mycotoxicity also generally have a b12 deficiency, which makes sense because with low b12 levels you often start feeling tired and fatigued, a common symptom of mold toxicity. At the same time, B12 is important in your methylation processes.
The longer mold is in your system the more toxic it will be, as with all toxins. So don’t wait for symptoms or even for the mold to appear on your wall. Prevention is key as with everything. Keep a good eye on your walls and dark and damp areas and periodically cleanse and diffuse with tea tree and other essential oils. If you have a serious case of mycotoxicity, I recommend seeking a functional medical practitioner that guide you through the process of cleansing your body from these toxic moulds.
Written by: Denise Tam, Holistic Nutritionist