Part 3: Treating Mold Illness
By Lindsay Christensen
Nutritionist @ The Pratt Clinics
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series, I discussed sources of mold and mycotoxin exposure, the harmful effects of mycotoxins on your health, and how to test for mold exposure. In this third and final installment in the blog series, I’ll cover strategies for recovering from mold-induced illness.
Clean up your living environment
The first step in recovering from mold illness is to clean up your living environment (or leave it) if it is contaminated with mold. If the mold problem in your living space is manageable, a qualified mold remediator can help you resolve the issue. I do not recommend attempting the remediation yourself unless you are a highly-trained remediator! Improper removal of mold can release more spores and harmful mycotoxins into your living environment, exacerbating (rather than alleviating) the problem.
If the mold problem in your environment is severe, moving may be the best option. This is typically the hardest, but most crucial step, in the recovery process. However, knowing that your health is on the line should be sufficient motivation to get out of the toxic, moldy environment and into a safe, clean one.
Even if your living environment is currently mold-free, there are steps you can take to prevent mold growth and mycotoxin contamination in the future.
• Invest in a high-quality air purifier such as an IQ Air.
• Keep indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent
• Ensure proper ventilation for showers, laundry, and cooking areas
• Make sure windows, roofs, and pipes are free of leaks
Binders are agents that bind mycotoxins in the gut and prevent them from being recirculated between the liver and intestine. Binders that are useful for removing mycotoxins include bentonite clay, activated charcoal, and chlorella. Since binders can interfere with the absorption of other medications and supplements, care must be taken when using them. I recommend working with a qualified healthcare provider who can guide you through the mycotoxin-binding process.
Support your liver and gallbladder
Mycotoxins are circulated through the enterohepatic circulation, which refers to the circulation of substances between the liver and small intestine via bile. While bile production is insufficient, effective detoxification of mycotoxins cannot occur. You can support bile production and detoxification by taking bitter herbs such as those found in Quicksilver Scientific BitterX or Bitters #9. Alpha-lipoic acid, a precursor to glutathione (the body’s “master antioxidant”) and liposomal glutathione can further promote detoxification of mycotoxins.
Take omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids assist in mold illness recovery by reducing inflammation. I recommend consuming 2-3 servings of wild-caught, fatty cold-water fish per week, such as wild Alaskan salmon and mackerel. Supplemental omega-3 fatty acids may also be needed; in this case, I am a fan of Xymogen Omega MonoPure, which contains EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids with the strongest anti-inflammatory effects.
Certain species of probiotics bind mycotoxins in the GI tract and can thereby help detoxify the body of mycotoxins. Look for a high-quality probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Propionibacterium freudenreichii. Lactobacillus casei, and/or Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Use a sauna
Sauna has been traditionally used by many cultures to facilitate detoxification and promote optimal health. Ochratoxin has been found in human sweat, suggesting that sauna therapy may be useful for lowering one’s mycotoxin load. I recommend using either a dry heat radiant sauna, such as a Finnish sauna, or a full-spectrum infrared sauna such as the Clearlight sauna. Humid saunas can be harder for mold-affected people to tolerate, in my experience.
Eat a low-mold, anti-inflammatory diet
Mold-containing foods to avoid:
• All types of cheese
• Vinegar and foods preserved in vinegar: Salad dressings, mustard, olives, white vinegar
• Sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, yogurt
• Alcoholic beverages: Beer, wine
• Sourdough bread
• Sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables
• Preserved meats: Jerky, smoked meats, smoked fish, sausages, corned beef, ham, bacon
• All dried fruits (unless you dehydrate them yourself at home): Raisins, apricots, cranberries, figs, prunes
• Canned juice
• Canned tomatoes
If you still want to include wine in your low-mold diet, I suggest trying Dry Farms Wines. The company meticulously tests their wines for mycotoxins as well as many other contaminants, including pesticides and gluten. For a low-mold source of coffee, I highly recommend Bulletproof Upgraded coffee. It is also meticulously tested for mold contamination and is guaranteed to be free of mycotoxins.
Now that you’ve cut out a bunch of foods, what exactly can you eat on the low-mold diet? There are plenty of delicious, healthy foods that you can include on the low-mold diet.
• Organic, pastured animal meats and poultry, and wild-caught fish: Choose grass-fed meat and pastured poultry because meat from grain-fed animals can be contaminated with mycotoxins that were present in animal feed.
• Non-starchy vegetables: Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, chard, onion, leek, garlic, asparagus
• Moderate amounts of starchy vegetables: Potato, sweet potato, turnip, rutabaga, parsnip, squash
• Low-sugar fruits: Apples, berries
• Raw or soaked/sprouted nuts and seeds (except peanuts, which are high in aflatoxin)
• Healthy fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, pastured organic tallow and lard, duck fat, ghee, butter
• Small amounts of gluten-free grains, if tolerated: Brown rice, wild rice, quinoa
In addition to the foods I just mentioned, you may also want to include some functional foods that have demonstrated protective effects against mold and mycotoxins. Cocoa (yes, the main ingredient in chocolate!) has been found to reduce free radical production induced by mycotoxin exposure. The polyphenol luteolin, found in fresh herbs such as oregano, sage, and thyme, inhibits the cytotoxic and DNA-damaging effects of mycotoxins. Finally, chlorogenic acid – found in apples, pears, sweet potatoes, and coffee – and caffeic acid – found in artichokes, apples, berries, pears, and wine (low-mold wine, of course) – also reduce the toxic effects of ochratoxin. Adding these foods to your diet may further fortify your body against the harmful effects of mold and mycotoxins.
Now, I’d love to hear from you? Has mold or mycotoxin exposure adversely affected your health? What strategies have you used to recover? Conatct us at The Pratt Clinics.