Millions of Americans are exposed to toxic mold in their homes, schools, office buildings, hotels, and even restaurants. In fact, a large study from 1994 estimated that approximately 50% of homes in the U.S. had mold growth.
These often unseen culprits are sneaky and dangerous, triggering symptoms such as allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, cognitive impairment. They can even lead to cancer and death.
I’ve written many times about the effects of toxic mold exposure on our health, including a guide on how to get rid of mold in your home.
But is there anything you can do to prevent mold growth in the first place? The answer is yes, and the key to preventing mold may lie with your home’s microbiome.
What is Your Home Microbiome?
You probably already know that a balanced gut microbiome is crucial for your health. You might even know that your skin and mouth have their own microbiomes. But what about your environment?
Surprisingly, we have a very limited understanding of the microbial composition and diversity found within our homes and how they can affect our health.
In one pilot study, researchers found an average of 2,253 distinct types of microbes per home. They also found that the diversity of microbes in the homes they studied were highly variable and affected by factors such as:
- Indoor habitat structure
- Number of occupants of the home
- Gender of occupants
- Presence of pets (especially dogs)
- Frequency of cleaning
- Ventilation rates
- Chemical exposure
From these findings, it’s clear that your home microbiome develops in response to us and our activities. And since we spend a majority of our time indoors, we are interacting with this microbiome every day, leading researchers to believe that our home microbiome can influence our health, both positively and negatively.
Mold deserves special attention because they can be highly detrimental to our health. Dr. Jack Thrasher, a leading toxicologist specializing in mycotoxins, believed that mold was more dangerous to humans than heavy metals or pesticides because of their ability to mutate and adapt to their environment.
Often referred to as “poisoning by natural means,” mycotoxicosis, the disease caused by mycotoxins, is not only capable of damaging your DNA and suppressing your immune system – they can act synergistically with other toxins to worsen the effects of your toxic burden. And it’s possible that humans may never become resistant to them.
Yes, mold is everywhere, and we don’t know what a “safe” level of mold exposure is. But mycotoxicosis is a serious illness, and our best chance at fighting mold might just be by improving our home microbiome.
5 Ways to Improve Your Home Microbiome
When looking to improve our digestive and overall health, we use probiotic supplements to crowd out bad pathogens and strengthen our immune system. Using this concept, here are 5 actions you can take today to diversify your home microbiome.
1. Spend Time Outside
Americans spend too much time indoors. In fact, researchers estimate that we spend up to 90% of our time inside. This is not only bad for your weight, it can also limit the diversity of microorganisms that enter your home.
When you spend so much time inside bacteria-poor environments, it can make your immune system overreact to harmless substances. Train your immune system by spending some time outside doing activities like gardening or hiking. If you have children, play with them outside and don’t be afraid to get dirty.
Of course, you’ll want to practice common sense and wash your hands regularly after spending time outside.
2. Adopt a Pet
Dogs are cute, furry, and loveable, but can they be good for your health, too? For years, scientists thought that the release of oxytocin was the only benefit of pet ownership. However, that may no longer be true. Many dogs spend significant amounts of time outdoors and then track the countless germs into their homes. And scientists are saying that could be a good thing for your home microbiome.
If you’ve owned dogs and/or for a while, you’ve probably been told at least once that children who grow up with animals are less likely to develop allergies. But until scientists started looking at the home microbiome, it wasn’t exactly clear why.
In one study, dog and cat ownership significantly increased the levels of 56 and 24 different bacterial genera in the indoor environment, respectively. Another study showed that pre- and postnatal pet exposure raised the abundance of gut bacteria that could prevent childhood metabolic and atopic diseases. These findings indicate that the increased diversity in the environmental microbiome due to pet ownership has a positive impact on our health.
3. Adopt Houseplants
Houseplants are not just for décor; they are great ways to boost the diversity of your home microbiome. Plants and soil come with their own bacteria and viruses, a vast majority of which are benign to humans. Your exposure to these microbes can help you further develop a health immune system. Here are some great air-purifying plants you can add to your home today;
- Spider plant
- Ficus/Weeping Fig
- English ivy
- Chinese evergreen
- Peace lilies
- Aloe vera
4. Get an Air Purifier
A high quality air purifier uses fans to remove potential air toxin sources, including mold spores. If you have a mold problem at home, you’ll want to invest in an air purifier that has a HEPA filter. Mold spores are also tiny – between 1 to 30 microns in size – so you’ll want to look for an air purifier that can capture particles of those sizes or smaller.
Personally, I recommend Austin Air, which is why I’ve paired up with them. Not only do I use them at work and home but you can get 10% off when you order through my office by calling 303-993-7910.
5. Add Probiotics to Your Environment
Probiotics-based cleaners have been gaining popularity for their effectiveness and safety advantages over conventional chemical products. In studies examining methods to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), researchers found that probiotics prevented the growth of pathogens and were completely safe for all patients, including those at high risk of opportunistic infections.
And thanks to Homebiotic, we can now harness the power of probiotics to fight mold spores and harmful bacteria in our homes. Homebiotic is a simple, gentle, and effective probiotic spray that was specifically designed to stop mold growth without harming you or your family.
Upon evaluation by an independent lab using the ASTM D3273-16 protocol (Standard Test Method for Resistance to Growth of Mold on the Surface of Interior Coatings in an Environmental Chamber), Homebiotic was found to prevent nearly all toxic mold growth even after 4 weeks after application.
I strongly recommend Homebiotic as a safe, effective, and 100% natural way to improve the health of your home and prevent mold growth I use Homebiotic myself, and I couldn’t be more pleased. That’s why I’ve partnered with them to provide a 10% discount code just for the readers of my blog.
Are you surprised to learn about the diversity of your home microbiome?
Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increase in the number of mold illnesses as new homes, with their air-tight sealing and better insulation, have become ideal breeding grounds for mold. If you or a loved one experienced mold-related illnesses, share your experience in the comments below.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.
I’ve been sick for several years after being exposed to long term toxic mold in a previous home. It’s been a rough ride. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Bless yoy!
I was reacting to the mycotoxins at work, in my car, my home, my church and other people’s home….and many other places throughout my life but didn’t know the root cause was unfriendly mycotoxin producing mold until about a year ago. Was sick for many years and progressively getting worse. Increasing allergies, increasing fatigue, increasing joint paint, increasing anxiety, visual blurriness unless I was outside during certain seasons, problems breathing, increasing thirst, increasing urination, increasing insomnia, increasing memory loss, increasing headaches, frequent static shocks, strange rashes, digestive problems, autoimmune diagnoses, lesions on organs per ultrasound and mri…and there is more but too tired to type it out. I was losing my ability to merely live and at times thought the suffering and inability to fulfill my life purpose was worse than death. Basics were gone…eating, breathing, thinking, moving, sleeping were all severely compromised. But somehow figured out that being outside in the winter when everything was frozen, fresh and air was crisp helped me regain some basic human functions so I could finally start understanding what I was reading from Dr. Jill. Left my job bc couldn’t drive safely from blurry vision, slow reactivity and dizziness bc I didn’t want to hurt anyone. But got more sick and became bedridden for 4 months at home bc there was mold behind the wall by my bedroom window that I didn’t know about. Now, I’m in the process of throwing everything away to remediate and sell. Been staying with a friend who has less of a mold issue and who surprisingly isn’t as affected by my place. Even with a full tyvek suit, n95 mask and goggles, I get very very ill after 2 hours of being in my condo. Any tips on how I can last longer in there so I can get rid of my stuff to sell my place ASAP? Do you know of a better whole face mask or anything? I really feel like I need an astronaut suit with oxygen. I’m also having a hard time finding a rental unit that I don’t react to. How did others find a healthy place they didn’t react to? Thank you for showing me that it’s possible to heal. I just need to figure out how to make it happen for myself with the little remaining resources I now have left after having no income for 8 years and spending so much on healthcare out of pocket for many years. I was lucky I had a decent paying job, lucky I saved a lot, lucky I don’t have kids or pets that could’ve have also been harmed by mold, lucky I had some great friends, lucky I finally learned it as mold. I wish I would have known sooner. I wish more people would know about this. Doctors, builders, teachers, family, friends, insurance, government….everyone. This is deadly and has ruined lives. The thing is, it’s not even mold fault. It’s doing what it’s supoosed to do. Humans need to live differently and interface with this planet and everything on it differently. We can start by building differently and educating the public.
Possibly try an N99 mask? Disposable ones can be had fairly cheaply. I’ve got mycotoxicosis as well, and I react really badly to one of the buildings at my school – after just a few minutes, I get so dizzy and fatigued that I can’t walk straight and can barely stand (not good when one of my classes in that building is basically a teaching class where I’m on my feet the whole time) – and I found that my N99 makes a huge difference. I’m not saying it will solve it for you, but maybe that little bit higher N-number might help at least somewhat. Just a thought.