With cold and flu season upon us, our immune systems are working overtime to keep us healthy. Normally, a full-functioning immune system has no problem warding off bacteria and viruses. But an over-worked immune system doesn’t necessarily do the same exemplary job that we expect from a healthy immune system. This can happen when we allow ourselves to get run down, eat poorly, lack in sleep and when stress levels are high.
But another area that can be overlooked when it comes to our immune system’s health is the day-to-day environment we surround ourselves with. And the number one environment our bodies are typically in? Our homes. If something in our houses is making our immune systems work on over-drive, it eventually gives in. Many factors can cause this, but mold spores could be one of the biggest, most underrated enemies of our immune systems.
If you live in an environment where mold is present, either behind walls or under floors, you’ve suddenly got your immune system working overtime to keep your body healthy. Mold spores become airborne quite easily and when they’re inhaled into your respiratory system, your body goes into defensive mode, doing all it can to fight off those toxins.
As your immune system is continuously working against the mold spores, it begins to be less effective when you come in contact with a cold virus or influenza bug. Your chances of staying healthy from these invaders is drastically lowered because of your fatigued immune system.
What You Need to Know About Mold
Mold is extremely resilient. It can grow on almost any surface given the proper circumstances. That means high humidity and little bit of warmth and mold will take off. Common mold is virtually EVERYWHERE.
Mold is a fungus and considered a living organism. Because mold is a living organism, it has its own way of growing, multiplying and its own way of defending itself against other organisms. This is why many scientists think mycotoxins are produced by mold. Mold creates mycotoxins as a defense mechanism and as a way to better its own environment for growth. Mycotoxins are the toxic part of mold that affects our immune system, nervous system and other areas of our bodies negatively. The mycotoxins are often on microscopic mold spores that are airborne. We in turn end up ingesting them, forcing our own immune system to ward them off.
Your Immune System’s Response
As you know, the immune system is our body’s natural defense mechanism. Your immune system protects your body in three different ways at three different stages of contact with a virus or bacteria. The first is that it creates a protective barrier that prevents bacteria and viruses from even entering your body. Because we come into contact with thousands of these a day, it’s likely that a few get through the immune system’s barrier. When the bacteria or virus does get into your body, the immune system detects and eliminates the invader before it can reproduce. Finally, if the bacteria or virus does get through and reproduces, your immune system goes into defensive mode and attempts to eliminate the problem.
When the immune system is busy fighting off mold toxins, it has a harder time keeping the bacteria and viruses out of our bodies and stopping them from reproducing. It means we are fighting off illness after the viruses and bacteria have already multiplied, which can mean we are dealing with the symptoms of a cold, influenza or other viral infection.
Our bodies see mycotoxins from mold as a threat. If a body is constantly exposed to toxic mold spores, the immune system will become weakened, making that person susceptible to other viruses and diseases.
Toxic mold also causes inflammation of the blood vessels located in the nose as well as the brain. These are both responses that our immune system must work hard to handle. We know that when your body is hard at work fighting off environmental stressors, it can’t handle the every-day viruses and germs you come into contact with. Many studies have been done in recent years finding that toxic mold not only causes us to feel sick, but can also suppress our immune system making us susceptible to viruses.
How to Create Your Own Healthy House
Obviously the first step to reversing the effects toxic mold has on your body is by removing it from your environment. Once you’ve done that, depending on the severity of your case, you can begin to reverse the effects mold has on your body and immune system.
First and foremost, keeping your home’s moisture levels at a lower level will help suppress any mold growth and spread. An inexpensive humidity meter can help you identify your home’s levels. Ideally somewhere between 35% and 45% is best when it comes to your home’s health and your health. (Any lower and you’d be quite uncomfortable with dry skin, nasal passages, etc.).
Second is to keep water and moisture out of your home. This could be in the form of plumbing leaks, exterior leaks, roof leaks and condensation forming on windows and walls. All of these sources create problems with water within your home. Once a surface such as wood or drywall get wet, they must be dried out within 24-48 hours. If not, mold can take hold and become almost impossible to get rid of.
Third, get the air inside your home moving. (Caution: If you suspect your home has mold and toxic mold spores, moving air around will distribute the new spores to new areas of your home. Getting a professional test for mold in your home will help you determine if you do in fact have toxic mold spores floating around). Ventilating your home with the use of windows, HVAC systems and fans can help keep moisture levels down as well as provide fresh air into your home. This will help dilute any toxins in your air by introducing clean air to the inside.
Finally, it’s important to keep your own immune system balanced and strong. Daily, healthy habits will help assist in a strong immune system. However it’s important to remember the environment we are surrounding our bodies with can play one of the biggest roles in our health and wellness.