Almost everyone knows the reasons for weight gain and poor overall health: Lack of exercise, too many processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle. But would you believe that there is now solid scientific evidence linking a common household toxin to many health problems, including weight gain? Yes, you could be suffering from this no matter how healthy your diet is or how much you work out. This toxin is mold, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is present in 30 percent of structures in America.
Mold and its role in chronic disease
Mold is a bio-toxin that creates an inflammatory response once it enters the body. Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against invaders, such as mold spores and their related mycotoxins that derive from them. However, in roughly 28 percent of people, this immune response activates and never gets turned off, making the inflammation chronic and severe. Many times this causes the person to become sick and then stay that way, to the bewilderment of doctors and experts.
Take the case of 46-year-old mother and wife Kimberlyn, who in 2010 became sick for no apparent reason. Kimberlyn was a highly-educated woman with a keen and analytical mind. Within 90 days of becoming sick, she lost 25 pounds, became confused and disoriented to the point that she had difficulty in even dressing. She couldn’t function or make basic decisions and had to give up her career. Diagnoses ranged from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder. “It was like I lost my personality” she later said.
After two different cycles of this mystery illness, she was finally diagnosed with toxic mold syndrome. Her house was tested and found to contain three strains of toxic mold, one of which was Stachybotrys, more commonly known as black mold.
Mold, migraine headaches, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Mold exposure is linked to unexplained weight gain, as well as migraine headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome. It has even been said that most allergy doctors are actually treating toxic mold syndrome – they just don’t know it. Instead, it is being misdiagnosed as something else, and the patient never really improves.
The reason for this is that the symptoms of toxic mold syndrome mimic allergies and other conditions, including those that we still know very little about, such as fibromyalgia. So if you experience changes in health or behavior, make sure you visit a doctor who is aware of toxic mold syndrome and treats it as the serious condition that it is.
How mold affects weight gain
This goes back to the chronic inflammation cycle that mold causes. One of the effects of chronic inflammation is that it compromises the hormone Leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain that you are full and do not need to keep eating. So when Leptin production is reduced, (as well as your body’s overall sensitivity to it), you will feel hungry all the time. This is how people in a mold-infested house can suddenly gain weight for no discernable reason.
In fact, Dave Asprey, the founder of the wildly popular Bulletproof diet, recalls moving into a condo in 1999. Unknown to him, the neighboring unit had a leaky water heater, causing the back wall of his bedroom to become coated with black mold. In addition to developing other symptoms, David gained 30 pounds in just one month, despite following a very healthy diet and workout plan.
What to do if your home has mold
First, ensure that this is indeed the case by having the air quality tested. Hire a good mold remediator and make sure that they are certified. The remediation company will then recommend the needed steps to take, depending on the severity of the situation.
After this is completed and your house is free of mold, make sure the indoor air quality stays clean by investing in a whole-house HEPA filtration unit, and striving to make sure relative humidity inside the home stays at 30-50 percent, to prevent future outbreaks. Although it is recommended that the cleanup of mold be left to the experts, if you only have a little bit on a surface area, then a good natural remedy is to clean it with a combination of 2 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with 1 quart of water, and vinegar.
Airborne mold can be treated with an ozone generator, but only in rooms that are already within safe ranges, according to the EPA.
Again, the do-it-yourself methods are only for very light mold problems.
So be aware of strange, unexplained changes in your health, when all other factors remain the same. Remember that many times, toxic mold syndrome goes unnoticed because it shares symptoms with other chronic conditions, such as allergies. Mold is a very real health risk whose impact is just now being recognized, so if you do suspect contamination (especially if you have had a recent water leak or other related problem), be sure to call the experts and then take the necessary steps to eradicate it.