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Can Mold Give You Depression?

depression

Many people are aware that mold has an adverse effect on our health and wellbeing. In the last few decades, statistics for allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions have increased at an alarming rate. But one of the reasons for that increase is that our modern living spaces promote a sterile and closed-off environment (1).

Also, we are cleaning with more harsh chemicals and increasing the amount of moisture and dampness in our homes. In the last two years in particular, since the start of the pandemic, more people are staying at home. This means we are showering, cleaning, and spending more time in our homes thus increasing the amount of moisture in our living space.

Most of us are aware of the danger that mycotoxins from mold can have on our health. Of course, not everyone gets sick from mold. Some people have a genetic sensitivity that predisposes them to mold illness (2). But as of yet, research hasn’t been able to clearly identify who those people are and exactly why they’re so sensitive. Nonetheless, research shows that mold illness has increased exponentially over the last several decades (3).

depression

DOES MOLD CAUSE DEPRESSION?

However, a relatively new phenomenon is that mold exposure may actually contribute to the rise of depression as well. In a study conducted by Edward Shenassa and colleagues, they noticed an increase in depressive symptoms for people living in moldy or damp environments (4). This increase is still relevant even after the researchers controlled for aspects like overcrowding, economic factors, and perceived lack of control over the study participant’s environment.

The study showed that the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% (4). This is a significant number and one that we ought to pay attention to given that depression has sky-rocketed in the last several decades. Although there are many factors that lead to the development of depression, few experts have discussed the connection between mold and depression.

the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% Click To Tweet

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT DEPRESSION?

Although this may be surprising, it makes sense considering the effect that mold can have on the nervous system and immune system (5,6). Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia. Mold also has an effect on the immune system which has neurological consequences as well (5,7).

Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia Click To Tweet

Any substance or pollutant that affects that neurological system will also have an effect on the neuropsychiatry of the individual, thus creating symptoms as seen in depression and anxiety. This is a startling new finding that may help unravel the common and devastating effects of both depression and increasing mold issues in modern environments.

The problem is, there are many factors involved in why a person develops depression as well as why people react to mold exposure. Interestingly, those with more sensitive immune and neurological systems are more likely to get both conditions. But what exactly denotes that sensitivity is still up for debate. More research is needed to control for several factors and thus pinpoint more causative factors.

 

WHAT OTHER FACTORS EFFECT MOLD RELATED DEPRESSION?

For instance, those that have more income are more able to clean up mold in their homes. This means they are less likely to be exposed to mold, but also, have more locus of control in creating a better home environment (4). For those without these resources, they are more likely to be exposed to mold. But also, the feeling of lacking control could be a factor in developing depression as well (4).

However, in one study, even mild or moderate mold exposure was still statistically significant even after controlling for the perception of control, other health issues, and the ability to remove mold. The study shows that mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression. Nonetheless, the researchers feel that income levels need more attention as a variable in the depression and mold exposure link (8).

mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression Click To Tweet

Another study looked at a comparison between mold-exposed individuals and a control group of unexposed people for factors like central or peripheral nervous system symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, arrhythmias, and multiple chemical sensitivities. The results were highly statistically significant for the study group versus the control group (9).

 

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM?

In terms of central and peripheral nervous system issues, the study group showed that 80% of mold-exposed individuals had symptoms compared to only 11% of the control group. For fatigue and brain fog, the results were 77% and 62% for the study group versus 24% and 11% respectively (9). Since many of these symptoms are present in depression, it makes sense that depression is observed as well.

As of now, researchers can’t say that there is a definite causative link between mold exposure and depression, but the results of these studies show a strong possibility that should be explored with deeper more rigorous research.

References

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994167/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4840461/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15143854/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19854819/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072855/

https://www.ncbi.nl

m.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7303478/

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10 Health Benefits of Gardening

health benefits of gardening

Gardening is getting more attention in recent years. Unfortunately, we’ve become more disconnected from nature in the last century. We used to farm and garden all the time, but modern life made us more detached from this human practice. However, new research shows that gardening has many health benefits that improve everything from the aging brain to physical conditioning. Also, gardening puts us back in touch with the external microbiome we need to stay healthy. Let’s look at 10 different health benefits of gardening.

sunflower field1. Getting More Sunshine

Gardening definitely gets us out in the sunshine more. Getting more sun exposure has been proven to raise Vitamin D levels and boost energy and health. Sunshine makes us feel better and gives us a boost that we may not realize we were missing.

Proper vitamin D levels are necessary for our health and wellbeing. Vitamin D supports the immune system, the brain, bone health, and mental health. It reduces inflammation which prevents diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin D have proven to be disastrous for human health. Although health officials caution people about skin cancer due to sun exposure, sunshine is the best way to get a daily dose of vitamin D. Often, just 10 minutes of sun exposure on the eyelids can boost vitamin D levels quite a bit. This means you can wear sunscreen and get your vitamin D too. And there’s no better way to get vitamin D than during a good session of gardening.

Although health officials caution people about skin cancer due to sun exposure, sunshine is the best way to get a daily dose of vitamin D. Click To Tweet

2. Growing Your Own Nutritious Foods

By growing our own fruits and vegetables, we can increase the number of food nutrients we’re receiving. In the last few decades, many modern farms have lost soil nutrients due to over-planting the same crops from year to year. When we grow our own vegetables, we naturally retain those nutrients because we don’t often plant the same things yearly. Small gardens are some of the best ways to grow nutritious food. Planting our own vegetable gardens naturally rotates crops which helps make the crops nutrient-rich.

3. Exposure To Beneficial Soil Bacteria

Research shows that kids who grow up on farms with lots of soil exposure have much better immune systems. As a result, they have less risk for autoimmune diseases, allergies, and asthma. This is because soil-based bacteria are genuinely beneficial for our health. Exposure to soil-based bacteria boosts and trains our immune system and enhances our skin and the gut microbiome.

There’s no better way to connect with soil-based bacteria than gardening. We usually get soil all over our hands and skin, and this is a good thing. Our culture has advocated that dirt is harmful, but this is simply not true. In fact, the more soil we can connect with physically, the better our health will be. And we shouldn’t be afraid to get a little dirt from the garden into our homes. It turns out that our homes also have a microbiome, and adding soil-based bacteria to it is a great way to improve the home microbiome and keep it naturally clean. The more diverse a microbiome is, the healthier it is. Soil-based bacteria naturally compete for food and space and therefore keep the numbers of harmful microbes to a minimum.

Our culture has advocated that dirt is harmful, but this is simply not true. In fact, the more soil we can connect with physically, the better our health will be. Click To Tweet

4. It’s A Work Out!

Gardening is a surprisingly good form of exercise. Apparently, one session of gardening is equivalent to half an hour of jogging. You’d never think that tinkering in the soil would be such great exercise, but it’s one of the best ways to keep in shape. It’s a low-intensity activity that is good for fat burning and muscle conditioning. It’s also a full-body workout and strengthens ligaments and bones, along with working out the muscles. Lastly, it promotes good flexibility, which is especially good to prevent age-related issues. The exercise you get from gardening can prevent health issues like injuries, bone loss, heart disease, and diabetes.

5. Beneficial To Overall Mental Health

There is growing research attesting to the benefits of horticultural therapy. Not only is it a great source of exercise, but it also boosts our mood and sense of wellbeing. According to the horticultural therapist Mitchell Hewson, gardening can help people experiencing mental health and addiction issues. Gardening stimulates thought, exercises the body and mind, and encourages awareness of the present moment and external environment. The combination of these factors can help improve mental health and addiction issues. In addition, gardening has been shown to renew the desire to live, improve self-esteem, and decrease anxiety.

6. Helps Prevent Dementia & Alzheimers

Gardening appears to have a beneficial influence on the health of the brain and the prevention of dementia. One study shows that those who participate in gardening have a 36% lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A different study shows the lowered risk to be around 47%. This is good news for an aging population. Not only does gardening improve the physical body and mental health, but it also enhances brain health and prevents brain-related issues. This is likely due to many factors we’ve already discussed, such as more sunshine, more activity, vitamin D exposure, and better nutrients from home-grown food.

One study shows that those who participate in gardening have a 36% lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Click To Tweet

7. Helps You Sleep Better

One study looking at the elderly shows that gardening helps improve many aspects of their lives, including improved sleep. Older adults naturally have more sleep issues due to changes in the brain and circadian rhythms. However, exposure to natural settings like gardens can help with sleep due to more exposure to sunlight, vitamin D, and activity. However, the actual physical task of gardening improves sleep hygiene because it’s an excellent form of low-impact exercise. Also, as we’ve discussed, gardening can help improve mental health, which also improves sleep habits. Studies show that problems with mental health have a direct impact on sleep hygiene. Therefore, since gardening improves mental health, it also helps reduce sleep problems.

8. Improves Mood

For all the reasons we’ve discussed above, gardening can help nurture the spirit. It lifts mood, enhances vitamin D, and gives a sense of purpose. It also connects people to the external environment by improving the connection to nature. All of these factors can give the spirit a lift. This inevitably improves mental and physical health as well. When the spirit feels well, chances are the person feels well in all areas too.

An experiment conducted by NASA in 2016 showed that gardening keeps astronauts happy and healthy while they’re in the challenging environment of space. Even if they’re in small pots, planting and nurturing seeds can help boost the mood and spirit considerably.

9. Benefits The Environment

We all know that an increase in carbon in the environment is dangerous for our climate. We also know that plants and trees have an excellent effect on reducing carbon in the atmosphere. This is because plants and trees literally “eat” carbon. They absorb carbon and send out healthy oxygen for us all to breathe. The more individual gardens we have in the world, the better. Not only do gardens help participate in reducing carbon, but they also teach us about the natural environment, which helps us stay connected to the climate we live in. Without this knowledge, we wouldn’t be able to understand our role in reducing climate change.

We live in a giant microbiome called earth, and the more we know about how to take care of it, the better we’ll all be. Having a garden can teach us about the microbiome we live in and help us understand our place in things. By communing with nature through our gardens, we expose ourselves to the outside microbiome, which has excellent health benefits for us as living beings. If we never connect to the larger microbiome we live in, we’ll never be able to understand how climate change affects us and is mediated by us. Those who live in high-rise buildings and who never get out in nature are more likely to misunderstand the nature of climate change. Gardening in any form, even if it’s just potted plants on a balcony, can be a massive help to us and the climate.

10. Gardening Benefits Overall Quality of Life

This should go without saying, but it’s worth mentioning how much fun gardening is. After all, if it weren’t fun, we wouldn’t want to do it. But the truth is, the more fun we have, the more health benefits we will achieve through an activity. The “fun” aspect of gardening gives us the mood and self-esteem boost, as mentioned above. It helps us feel grounded in nature and connected to ourselves and the outside world. We also improve our physical health as well without doing things that seem like “work.” Many gardeners will confess that gardening never feels like work.

In summary

So these are 10 health benefits of gardening. Not only is gardening good for the spirit, self-esteem, and mental health, it also nurtures our physical health in many ways. It connects us to nature, gets us out in the sun, boosts physical activity, and gives us access to helpful soil-based bacteria. All of these things combined make gardening a genuinely healthy and stimulating activity.

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3372556/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/benefits-of-sunlight#health-benefits

https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/self-care/health-benefits-of-gardening/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16411871/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/11/health-benefits-gardening/7971047/

https://www.fix.com/blog/health-benefits-of-gardening/

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Maintain Gut Health

How to maintain gut health Blog

In the past decade or so, gut health has become a topic of interest for researchers and regular people looking to improve their health. Gut health is linked to several areas that promote health and wellbeing in the body. As such, people want to learn more about how to maintain gut health so they can feel better and avoid health issues. Research findings are showing that the gut microbiome is an essential aspect of our overall health. So, let’s look deeper into how and why we should maintain our gut health.

gut health - homebiotic - prebiotics

What is Gut Health?

Gut health refers to a proper balance of bacteria in the gut which promotes proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. It also refers to adequate nutrition as a way to support the bacteria in our gut. Also, by getting adequate nutrition and supporting bacteria growth, we can lessen our chances of getting other illnesses like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, etc.

Gut health refers to a proper balance of bacteria in the gut which promotes proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. It also refers to adequate nutrition as a way to support the bacteria in our gut. Click To Tweet

What is a Microbiome?

The microbiome is comprised of all the microbes that live in a particular environment. We have a gut microbiome, but we also have one on the skin, in our homes, and in nature. In fact, we all live in one giant microbiome, called earth. The environment and how we interact with it has a big part to play in the health of our bodies. We also affect the microbiome for other living things as well. Every time we dump carbon and other pollutants in the air and water, we affect the overall microbiome we will live in. In turn, this also causes problems with our microbiome in and on our bodies.

gut microbeHow Much Bacteria Should I Have in my Gut?

The most important thing about our gut microbiome is ensuring a healthy and diverse amount of good microbes. It’s not so much the numbers of each bacteria; instead, it’s about the diversity. The more varied they are, the better our health will be. When we have an overgrowth of one type of bacteria, we often feel sick. Also, too much of one bacteria can prohibit the growth of others, which leads to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis refers to a gut that doesn’t have a balanced and abundant microbiome.

What are Good Microbes?

Good gut microbes are things like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. These bacteria are essential in helping us break down food and absorb nutrients. They also help protect and repair damaged tissue inside the intestines. This is a vital part of reducing and preventing inflammation. Without diverse numbers of good bacteria, our body can become inflamed, leading to a variety of diseases and health problems. Our goal should be to protect and maintain the good bacteria in our gut. By doing so, these bacteria will help protect us as well.

What are Bad Microbes?

Harmful microbes refer to bacteria that not only make us sick but they prevent good bacteria from growing and doing their job correctly. Examples of harmful bacteria are c. difficile, e.coli, and salmonella. Also, various forms of fungi such as candida can cause health issues as well. An overgrowth of candida has been known to cause fatigue, diarrhea, indigestion, and inflammation. When our gut has a good amount of beneficial bacteria, these harmful microbes don’t have as much of a chance to grow.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are concentrated amounts of good bacteria that you can take in pill form. These products are for people who are lacking in good microbial diversity in their gut. The majority of probiotics contain lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. They also contain healthy yeasts as well; another beneficial microbe. Often probiotics are kept in the fridge to ensure the health of the bacteria in each pill.

There are many types of probiotic products. Be sure to talk with a nutritionist or naturopath to choose the right product for you. The research about probiotics is up and down. Many research studies lack the scientific rigor needed for the products to be approved by the FDA. Nonetheless, there’s enough research and anecdotal evidence that shows that probiotics are very helpful.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are basically food for our beneficial bacteria. They contain a type of fiber that is not digestible in the human intestinal tract. It is broken down and fermented in the gut. Prebiotics won’t help if you don’t already have enough good bacteria in your gut. However, many probiotic products come with prebiotics in them to help support the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Prebiotic products (pills that you buy from the store) are generally made with a substance called inulin. However, there are many foods that are considered prebiotic as well. Certain undigestible fibrous carbohydrates are considered prebiotics. These undigestible compounds ferment in the gut and the products of fermentation feed the good bacteria in our gut. So, in a sense, prebiotics are just as important if not more important than probiotic products.

How do Prebiotics and Probiotics Help Maintain Gut Health?

Having both probiotics and prebiotics are essential to maintaining gut health. They work together to ensure the health, diversity, and strength of the microbes in our gut. In this way, the beneficial microbes can do their job of breaking down food, creating by-products that aid our digestion, prevent inflammation, and increase the nutrients we absorb. Without this process, we can’t maintain our health very well. Some research shows that gut bacteria influence the health of our brains and the bacteria can even communicate with our nervous system.

gut health supplementsAre There Other Products that Help With Gut Health?

The good news is that we don’t have to rely only on probiotic and prebiotic pills sold in natural health stores. We can get both probiotics and prebiotics in different food items. Mainly these food items consist of fermented products. For example, sauerkraut is full of both prebiotic and probiotic substances. The fiber in the cabbage ferments creating food for the beneficial bacteria that grow on the cabbage. Another example is kombucha; a fermented drink made from a blob of yeast and bacterial culture. It may sound unappetizing, but it actually tastes quite good and it’s excellent for your health and wellbeing.

Perhaps the best news is that we can make these products ourselves in our own homes. There are many websites that can teach you how to ferment things to create your own prebiotics and probiotics. Research shows that eating fermented foods is a better way to get proper amounts of probiotics and prebiotics.

How Else Can I Maintain Gut Health?

There are a few other key factors that help maintain gut health. For one, antibiotics can wipe out our gut microbiome quite easily. Although antibiotic treatment may be medically necessary for certain conditions, it may not always be required for everything. For example, a viral illness that has no evidence of bacterial infection likely doesn’t require antibiotics. You should avoid taking antibiotics if they are not necessary. They should only be taken for a serious infection.

Secondly, diet plays a big part in maintaining gut health. A diet rich in fiber and nutrients is very important. Much of our modern diets contain too much sugar and processed fats, which can kill off our healthy microbiome. There are also chemicals in processed food that can decimate our gut bacteria as well. It’s best to limit these foods and increase healthy vegetables, fruits, and fibrous carbohydrates.

What Happens if I Lose Beneficial Bacteria?

Many people report having diarrhea and bloating after they lose beneficial bacteria through things like antibiotic treatment or a gastrointestinal illness. The loss of beneficial bacteria is usually temporary, but it can take some time to build back the gut microbiome. In these moments, it’s good to have a healthy diet along with probiotic and prebiotic treatment to help restore the diverse bacteria in our guts.

abdominal pain

What Health Problems Happen from Bad Gut Health?

When our gut lacks healthy and diverse amounts of good bacteria, we fall into a state called dysbiosis. This can cause mild health problems if the dysbiosis is temporary. Mild symptoms are usually things like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and indigestion. However, long-term dysbiosis has been linked to several more serious health conditions such as autoimmune disease, allergies, chronic inflammation, diabetes, obesity, migraines, and nervous system damage.

Without a healthy gut microbiome, our intestines are unprotected which can lead to a condition called leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut is basically a term to describe an intestinal barrier that has become too porous. This means that harmful substances can pass through the gut barrier and into the bloodstream causing a widespread inflammatory process. This inflammation is what can set off various health problems as described above.

Without a healthy gut microbiome, our intestines are unprotected which can lead to a condition called leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut is basically a term to describe an intestinal barrier that has become too porous. Click To Tweet

Without a healthy gut microbiome nutrients don’t get broken down and absorbed properly. This leads to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition. Without nutrients, our bodies can’t perform the necessary functions to maintain proper health. This seriously affects our quality of life over the longer term.

What Else Contributes to Poor Gut Health?

On top of a bad diet and lack of pre and probiotics, certain illnesses can contribute to a loss of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Interestingly, these health issues can be caused by dysbiosis so it’s hard to know what comes first, the illness or the dysbiosis. Nonetheless, illnesses like diabetes and autoimmune issues are known for degrading the gut biome.

What Can I Do Today to Help My Gut Microbiome?

You can take action right now to help promote and maintain your gut health. Number one is to ensure a healthy diet with lots of fiber and nutrients. Eat lots of diverse fruits and vegetables. Also, try to eat complex fibrous carbohydrates like whole grains and root vegetables.

Next, try to find a source of probiotics and prebiotics that work for you. If you don’t have time to ferment things like sauerkraut or kombucha, you can try buying these products from a natural health store. They tend to be expensive but they’re worth it. If you don’t like fermented foods then you can find probiotics and prebiotics in a pill format.

In summary

Maintaining gut health is essential for our overall health and wellbeing. Gut health is about having a healthy a diverse gut microbiome. We want to have healthy amounts of beneficial bacteria and low amounts of harmful bacteria. Good bacteria are essential for digestion and nutrient absorption as well as promoting health and preventing inflammation.

We can maintain our gut microbiome by eating a healthy diet and taking prebiotics and probiotics. The best sources of these two substances are fermented foods, but taking them in a pill form can also be helpful.

A gut lacking in diverse and beneficial microbes is in a state of dysbiosis. This can cause several health problems such as leaky gut, inflammation, and other health conditions. Some health conditions like diabetes, obesity and autoimmune disease can be caused by dysbiosis and can make dysbiosis worse.

A gut lacking in diverse and beneficial microbes is in a state of dysbiosis. Click To Tweet

So it’s obvious that the more we put emphasis on maintaining our gut health, the better our overall health will be.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463098/

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know#:~:text=Probiotics%20may%20contain%20a%20variety,probiotics%20may%20have%20different%20effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315779/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6733864/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30535609/

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567126/

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Dangers Of Modern Cleaning Products

Dangers Of Modern Cleaning Products

Over the past century our cleaning strategies have become more modern and increasingly more sterile. This means we have adopted the idea that in order for our homes to be clean, they must be void of all microbes. Not only is this idea false, it’s also very harmful to our home environment, the external environment, and our health.

In the past decade, we’re learning that the health of our overall microbiome is an important piece to our personal and environmental health. A microbiome refers to all the microbial life that we live with every day. In order for a microbiome to be healthy, there has to be a diverse and abundant microbial life. In other words, we don’t want to harm all the bacteria and other microbes that we live with. The biggest reason why microbes die out is due to our cleaning practices. Let’s explore this in more depth so that we can learn how to foster our microbiome better.

happy family - homebiotic

Which Modern Cleaning Products Are Harmful?

Modern cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, antibacterial, and other harsh compounds can be harmful to our skin, gut, environmental, and home microbiome. Yes, these products will definitely kill harmful bacteria and viruses, but they also kill all the healthy and helpful microbes as well. There are times when we need to kill harmful microbes for sure, but we likely don’t need to do this all the time. Unfortunately, we’ve become so averse to any microbes at all that we often slather our homes in these products.

Modern cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, antibacterial, and other harsh compounds can be harmful to our skin, gut, environmental, and home microbiome. Yes, these products will definitely kill harmful bacteria and viruses,… Click To Tweet

heron fishing in swamp - HomebioticWhy Are Some Cleaning Products Harmful To The Environment?

We may intend to just clean our homes, but every time we use harsh cleaning products, they get washed down the drain and end up in our oceans, drinking water, and freshwater lakes. These products will also cause destruction in the healthy microbes in our natural environments. These environments rely on a balance of microbes to survive and function well. Many bacteria that can be found in soil, water, and plants are needed in order to continue the life cycle properly. What we may not realize is that this healthy microbiome is essential for the health of our entire world. Without them, nature would die and so would we. Although the use of harsh cleaners is just beginning to be understood, people are still manufacturing and using them daily in their homes, offices, and public buildings.

How Modern Cleaning Products Affect The Home Microbiome?

In our homes, modern cleaning products can decimate an entire population of microbes in one sweep. We are beginning to understand that this is not a good thing but we don’t exactly know why. Our home has a microbiome made up of human microbes, home microbes, and possibly pet microbes. All of these eventually settle into a balance if they are allowed to flourish.

The key thing that people need to understand is that this microbiome helps us considerably. A diverse set of microbes actually helps decrease harmful microbes like mold, fungus, salmonella, e.coli, and others. However, this can only happen if the microbiome is healthy and balanced. Without a balance, other microbes take over and grow out of control. Mold is a perfect example of this. Often, mold can be found in places where the microbiome is unstable and unbalanced. The same can be said for mildew and bacteria like e.coli. If we kill off the microbiome, then these harmful microbes can take over and then we will have to clean excessively in order to stave them off. Anyone who’s ever had a mold problem can tell you how difficult it is to get rid of the problem once it starts. But few people realize that they can do this by ensuring that good microbes have a place in their homes.

Several studies show that homes void of diverse microbes has an overgrowth of human and fungal microbes which are not helpful to the home environment. Even pests like spiders, beetles, and camel crickets are essential to a healthy home microbiome. However, these tiny creatures are also negatively affected by over-cleaning using harsh modern cleaning products.

Several studies show that homes void of diverse microbes has an overgrowth of human and fungal microbes which are not helpful to the home environment. Click To Tweet

wetlands - homebioticHow Modern Cleaning Products Affect The Environment?

Modern cleaning products actually kill bacteria and other microbes as they have toxic compounds that don’t support life. They don’t simply remove and wash away bacteria, instead they actually kill them along with all the good microbes too. This is a big difference compared to more natural cleaning products that simply wash microbes away without killing them.

Furthermore, these toxic compounds leave our homes through the drain pipes and end up in our external environment. This is why our lakes and oceans are struggling. Marine and terrestrial life can not be supported properly with so many toxic chemicals in their living space.

How Do Some Cleaning Products Affect Our Bodily Microbiome?

Our gut and skin microbiome are highly important for our health and wellbeing. Harsh cleaning products also affect these environments as well. Studies show that many human diseases and allergies began rising right after the invention of modern cleaning products. This is because, without a healthy skin and gut biome, our immune system doesn’t work the way it was intended. This leads to the development of allergies, autoimmune disease, and other immune-related conditions.

When we clean our homes with harsh cleaners, we are decimating the biome on our hands which affects other areas of our skin and gut microbiome. The more we erode our skin and gut microbiome, the less our immune system can work properly. This means we may get sick easier or develop conditions that never used to be around many years ago (i.e. autoimmune diseases). The serious rise in allergies is proof that our immune systems are becoming more eroded as our cleaning and living practices are infused with harsh and toxic chemicals.

The more we erode our skin and gut microbiome, the less our immune system can work properly. Click To Tweet

castile soap - homebiotic

Which Cleaning Products Would Work Better?

Ideally, natural cleaning products or those that use just plain soap compounds are much better. Essential oils can take care of most bad bacteria without killing off the good ones. However, we have to be careful with essential oils as well as too much of them can also harm the microbiome. Essential oils are things like concentrated lemon, eucalyptus, or tea tree oil. These oils are quite good at cleaning and refreshing the home.

Vinegar and water can also act much like essential oils do. Vinegar also neutralized odors so it makes for a good cleaning product. Again, don’t use too much as it can destroy the good microbes over time.

Soap-based cleaners are good as well. Soap molecules attach to dirt and microbes pulling them off the surface; these particles wash down the drain once the soap is rinsed off with water. This is why the rinsing process is also very important when cleaning with soap.

Woman reading book near plant - Homebiotic - ways to nourish your home biomeWhy Is It Important To Not Over-Clean Our Homes?

No matter what we choose to clean our homes with, it’s important not to over-clean. This means that we should clean lightly once a week using natural products that don’t instantly kill all microbes.

When we over-clean our homes using harsh cleaners, we are killing the beneficial microbiome in the home. As biological beings, we live in harmony with our environments so if we decimate the microbiome in our home, chances are we are also affecting the microbiome in our gut and on our skin. As we’ve discussed, this has a negative effect on our entire health and well-being. So it’s important for us to re-consider our cleaning practices in this respect.

Genty wiping surfaces once a week with natural soap or essential oils will be enough to keep our home environment clean. The only time we should use bleach or other harsh cleaners is if there is an infectious disease in the house or an area is soiled with a large number of harmful microbes like e.coli or salmonella. For example, using a small amount of bleach after cutting up raw chicken on the kitchen counter will be fine. Or if we have someone with a virus in the home, we may need to use antimicrobial cleaner around their living areas. But if all is well and there are no harmful bacteria or viruses present, then we really don’t need to use harsh cleaners to get the job done.

In Summary

The rise of modern cleaning practices is in direct correlation to many diseases and environmental problems. Harsh cleaners are not good for the overall microbiome and as biological beings, we rely on the natural environment to stay healthy. We can do our part by not using harsh cleaners like bleach, ammonia, antibacterial cleansers, etc. The only time these products are necessary is if someone is sick or there is an exposure of harmful microbes like raw chicken on a countertop. Otherwise, natural products like essential oils, vinegar, and natural soap are better choices to make for cleaning products. The more we learn about the danger of modern cleaning products, the more we can make better decisions for our home and wellbeing.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P1187

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01564-9/fulltext

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/478930

https://journals.lww.com/pidj/fulltext/2000/10001/consumer_and_market_use_of_antibacterials_at_home.6.aspx

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/mdr.2009.0120

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf?referrer_access_token=dbirv_c_z112blDos3pXLNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NvGy2dylkGSz3KfaHrHWvz91WrdbO-hC1L5cRkm8uaNT_206dn91YHLRkkEthiaLvebtJej4odp6x8_o6PN9C4sBMg3aSzRXRoO2YCabzZXpWFXr0v027tEfwr0cTKZlPatZKGOACqFfaEnoF1P92hlljaBbcfjElLCR0Tzp6xVovmC84tkYdJawRACVDgwlT2BCyitwETaNo8a3b7DX_pnzgOL61ZX3_w1lLh07CGR3vnLkR14D6RSH0WRjo9A3WMhTeh8H34VG37MCopLsbAuS5lM85zEgO8dIVUIeQlbA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com/

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6 Spring Gut-Healthy Recipes

6 Spring Gut-Health Recipes | Salad

Spring is the perfect time to refresh and liven up your go-to menu. As the sun begins to show her face more, warming everything up we are able to find locally grown delicious fruits and vegetables to nourish our guts. We’ve hand-selected 6 fantastic  Spring gut-healthy recipes that are not only  easy to make but will keep you feeling your best:

spring confetti salad - edible perspective

Spring Confetti Salad

This absolutely stunning salad from Edible Perspective has everything you need for a deliciously filling main course salad. Red cabbage, chickpeas, and asparagus pair perfectly with a light, easy salad dressing. Add feta cheese to add that punch of probiotics.

favorite chicken sandwich

Favorite Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Nothing satisfies quite like a chicken salad sandwich! This fantastic recipe from The Crafting Chicks takes your standard chicken sandwich to a whole new level by using craisins for a bit of sweetness and colby jack cheese for some serious flavor. We also love the idea of using a light, fluffy croissant instead of regular sandwich bread.

pea fritters lavender aand macaron

Pea Fritters with Greek Yogurt Sauce

Accompanied by the probiotic-rich greek yogurt sauce, these pea fritters from Lavender & Macarons are fantastic finger food. Peas are a phenomenal source of vitamin A, vitamin K and other antioxidants that actively support your immune system and overall cell health.

mediterranean buddha bowl

Mediterranean Buddha Bowl

Another nourishing, filling recipe featuring a probiotic heavyweight FETA! This dish from A Cedar Spoon contains so many amazing gut-healthy ingredients like chickpeas, kalamata olives, and hummus. A perfect bowl to fill you up and keep you cozy for those still chilly spring days.

asparagus soup 31daily

Season’s Best Asparagus Soup 

Lacking in the prebiotic department? This amazing soup recipe from 31daily features asparagus which is a fantastic source of prebiotic fiber. It is the perfect way to optimize your gut function AND stay nourished.

spring roll bowl

Shrimp Spring Roll Bowls

We love bowls as a way to pack a lot of highly nourishing ingredients into the same meal. This dish from Robust Recipes is filled with amazing prebiotic vegetables paired with a delicious tahini sauce. Hot or cold, this bowl is sure to please the whole family.

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We Want To Know: Can You Eat Moldy Foods?

We Want to Know Can You Eat Moldy Foods? | Moldy Bread on a Plate

Nothing in the food world is more polarizing than blue cheese. Some people eat it straight from the block or excitedly devour it as a dip to hot wings. To others, the smell alone could ruin a meal, let alone seeing that mold marbling its way through the cracks. Preferences aside, can you eat moldy foods? Are there any negative health impacts to eating food created with mold? The answer is a little complex!

What Kind Of Mold Grows On Food?

This question can be broken down into two categories: food created with mold AND food that has gone moldy. It’s important to distinguish the two because of the types of mold in each category.

blue cheeseFood Created With Mold

We owe a lot of delicious foods to mold! Most notably, as previously mentioned, blue cheese. This is the perfect example of how certain strains of mold can be utilized in specific, controlled ways to create delicious food making it so you can eat moldy foods.

During the cheese-making process, small channels are added to the cheese block to allow air exposure. This is where the mold Penicillium Roqueforti comes in to work its magic creating those blue channels everyone uses to easily identify the type of cheese. This strain of penicillium is completely safe to consume and has been utilized in this process for possibly hundreds of years, and was formally identified in 1906.

moldy foodFood That Has Gone Moldy

Commonly seen in households via bread and fruit, this stage of expiry is when mold spores have begun to cause rot and decay, feeding themselves and spreading.

Although there are 100,000+ types of mold species, the mold on bread and spoiled fruit are most often identified as Rhizopus Stolonifer. In addition to the possibility of consuming this mold, it can also easily be inhaled, making it extremely difficult to avoid completely.

Individuals with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to mold-related infections which, although not currently fully understood, have proven to be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The mold spores infect mucus tissues, spreading and growing rapidly making it hard to treat, often resulting in necrosis of tissues.

Individuals with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to mold-related infections which, although not currently fully understood, have proven to be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The mold spores infect mucus… Click To Tweet

When thinking on a small scale, like accidentally ingesting a moldy slice of bread, it’s important not to worry. The human stomach is a very acidic environment that can easily eliminate small amounts of harmful mold if eaten.

However, if larger amounts of mold are consumed they can trigger allergic reactions or even chemical toxicity symptoms, these reactions can be amplified if the person has a compromised digestive or immune system. The CDC recommends if you find mold on food items to err on the side of caution by throwing them away.

Is It Safe To Eat?

Moldy foods are not, but foods created with mold are…in moderation. It’s important to remember any type of mold could potentially trigger an allergic reaction, especially if ingested in large amounts. Common symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry, scaly skin

If you experience food-related mold allergies, it’s important to consider that you may find yourself triggered by other fungi related foods (yeast or mushrooms), such as:

  • Vinegar and foods containing vinegar
  • Sour cream
  • Meat or fish
  • Bread
  • Jarred jams
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickled and smoked meats

cheese plate with pickles

Like anything, when thinking if you can eat moldy foods, they should be consumed in moderation. While studies do not show any direct health benefit of consuming the types of mold utilized to make foods, it’s important to consider the other natural health benefits that food may provide. Blue cheese, for example, is an excellent source of calcium and rich in protein while being low in carbohydrates, making it a great addition to your diet.

Foods that are created vinegar and mushrooms also have their own respective health benefits. Mushrooms activate gut microbes meaning it is a prebiotic, a necessary component to proper gut function. Although vinegar itself is not a probiotic, it is used in many food fermentation techniques which produces substantial amounts of probiotics. Adding both mushrooms and vinegar into your diet is the perfect way to optimize your gut health.

Delicious Moldy Foods Recipes

Looking for some inspiration to incorporate “moldy” foods into your diet? We’ve found some fantastic recipes sure you please:

gnocchi blue cheese platings and pairings

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese and Frizzled Prosciutto from Platings & Pairings

Mushroom Risotto from Spend With Pennies

Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

References

https://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/Mold.htm

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizopus_stolonifer

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zygomycosis

http://foodsafety.merieuxnutrisciences.com/2018/02/20/3-foods-exist-because-yeast-mold/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penicillium_roqueforti

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mold-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20351519

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/mold-allergy-basics

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3 Ways To Keep Your Home & Gut Healthy

3 Ways To Keep Your Home & Gut Healthy | Blog

Keeping your home & gut healthy can involve some of the same steps! In the book “Never Home Alone,” biologist Rob Dunn says that we’ve done a fantastic job controlling the pathogens in our home environment (1). However, we’ve inadvertently gone too far and killed off all the beneficial species. Next, we built our homes in ways that favor problem species like fungi, new pathogens living in our faucets, or cockroaches living in our kitchens. He says there was always another way – that is to nurture the beneficial species in our homes (1).

Just like our gut biome, our home has a biome as well. Although the home biome is somewhat different than our guts, the same principles apply. Nurture the good species while removing whatever nurtures the bad. Experts say that we ought to focus efforts on the good microbes instead of killing off the harmful microbes. This is because whenever we kill off bad microbes, we usually kill the good guys too.

bright home filled with plants woman standing in window - Homebiotic - keep your home & gut healthy

To care for our gut biome, there are three main principles we need to follow: eat healthy, take probiotics, and take pathogen-killing medicine when absolutely required. It turns out that caring for the home biome follows very similar principles. Let’s look at each of these principles and how nurturing our home biome is similar to nurturing our gut biome.

coffee and healthy breakfast - homebiotic1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Keeping your home & gut healthy means keeping them nourished. Eating healthy for our gut biome means that we are feeding the good microbes with foods they like. Harmful microbes tend to like sugars, starches, and processed foods. In contrast, good bacteria and microbes like to eat fermented fibrous items like fruits and veggies. The idea is to enhance the growth of good bacteria and microbes, which will naturally balance out the gut microbiome (2).

The same can be said for our home biome. Good microbes consist of more soil-based bacteria and microbes, which we don’t often find in modern homes (3,4). Over the last half a century, we’ve become so averse to dirt that we have created a home environment favoring human microbes and pathogens. Research shows that when we began actively removing microbes and building airtight living spaces cut off from nature that we inadvertently favored a biome that lacks healthy microbes (1,3,4,5). At the same time, many illnesses developed, such as asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. We’ve also made our immune systems more susceptible to other illnesses as well (1,6).

Over the last half a century, we’ve become so averse to dirt that we have created a home environment favoring human microbes and pathogens. Research shows that when we began actively removing microbes and building airtight living spaces… Click To Tweet

So the first step in nurturing our home biome is to feed the good guys in our homes. We do this by allowing our environment to find its own natural balance without using harsh cleansers, cleaning too frequently, and avoiding any and all dirt. The truth is, good microbes will eat and compete with harmful microbes if we let them be. Good microbes also have a symbiotic relationship with our human and pet microbes, and we must nurture that relationship as well (1,3,4,5).

alternative medicine - homebiotic2. Take Probiotics

Keeping your home & gut healthy sometimes requires calling in reinforcements. The other way we can nourish and promote good microbes in our homes is to actually add them to our environment the same way we do in our guts. It looks a little different between the gut and the home biome, but the principle is much the same.

Probiotics for our guts involve taking probiotic pills or ingesting foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir (2). As science and human technology advances, we are discovering ways to add probiotics to our home environments (7).

A research study done in a healthcare setting shows that probiotic microorganisms may help decrease the growth of harmful pathogens. Probiotics and their biosurfactant products may keep hospital-based infections under control. Since this works in a hospital setting, it may indeed work well at home (7). This is excellent news amidst a pandemic where we need to clean our homes with harsh chemicals more often.

This is where Homebiotic Environmental spray comes in to create a population of beneficial microbes within your home. Include Homebiotic as a treatment at the end of your regular natural cleaning routine to create a barrier of probiotic protection on surfaces in your home, keeping them clean long after chores are done.

spilled bottle of pills - homebiotic3. Take Pathogen-Killing Medicine Only When Absolutely Required

Keeping your home & gut healthy can mean minimizing the intake of antibiotics. In the last few decades, we’ve discovered that antibiotics and other chemical irritants can kill off the beneficial microbes in our gut. Even things like stress, massive change, and unhealthy food choices can negatively affect our gut biome. Now that we know this, many health officials are advocating for the discretionary use of antibiotics. There’s also been an increase in education around foods, chemicals, and stress and how they negatively impact the gut biome (1).

It turns out that the same is true for the home biome. Research shows that over-cleaning, using harsh antibacterial cleansers has a devastating effect on beneficial microbe species in the home. As we discussed above, creating a sterile environment in the house has led to the development of many new illnesses (1,3-6). This is because we need beneficial bacteria in both our guts and our homes to stay healthy.

Research shows that over-cleaning, using harsh antibacterial cleansers has a devastating effect on beneficial microbe species in the home Click To Tweet

So in order to nurture our home biome, we need to decrease our use of harsh cleansers and reduce our cleaning frequency. This is not to say to leave our homes dirty and full of grime. Rather, we allow some microscopic dirt to remain and clean in ways that don’t destroy beneficial species. Instead of using antibacterial cleansers, we can choose essential oils, small amounts of vinegar and opt for surface wiping and removing excessive dust (1,4,5,6).

Conclusion

In conclusion, it seems that nurturing our home biome is quite similar to promoting health for our gut biomes. As we are biological beings that live symbiotically in a connected biosphere, it makes sense that our home and gut biomes would behave in similar ways.

There are three main points to keep your home & gut healthy:

  1. We need to feed the good microbes while starving out the bad ones.
  2. We add in good microbes when necessary to help repopulate and bring balance to the biome.
  3. Be careful with how we treat overgrowths of harmful microbes.

When we don’t need to kill any harmful pathogens, then it makes sense not to use harsh pathogen-killing chemicals if it’s unnecessary.

As we become more familiar with our gut biome, it makes sense to look at the entire biome we live in, including our home. The principles for nurturing any biome are relatively similar. The more we understand, the better we can be at fostering our overall health and wellbeing.

 

References

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19201053/

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What Are Prebiotics & Why Do We Need Them?

What Are Prebiotics & Why Do We Need Them? | Three Healthy Smoothies

It’s no secret that probiotics are great for your gut health, but where is all this enthusiasm for prebiotics? Prebiotics, the lesser talked about partner to probiotics, are equally as important to your gut health. The proper function of your gut is imperative to the optimal function of other body systems, including your nervous system. Like a luxury car, your gut deserves the best in preventative maintenance – that is where prebiotics come in.

gut health - homebiotic - prebioticsWHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?

Generally speaking, the concept and discovery of prebiotics are one of the new kids on the block. Having only been identified in 1995 by PhD Marcel Roberfroid, the idea of dietary prebiotics is fairly new in the world of nutrition. When discussing his research, Dr. Roberfroid said:

Prebiotics are a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health.

Prebiotics are the fuel for your gut bacteria. They support the health of your gut bacteria, making sure they are in tip-top condition to properly digest and absorb nutrients.

Prebiotics are the fuel for your gut bacteria. They support the health of your gut bacteria, making sure they are in tip-top condition to properly digest and absorb nutrients. Click To Tweet

They are composed of indigestible carbohydrates, which pass through your digestive system to live in your lower gut. This is where they get gradually consumed by your gut microbes, essentially fueling your whole digestive system.

blood pressure cuff - homebiotic - prebioticsWHAT ARE THE NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS?

Although we do not gain any direct nutritional value from prebiotics, our digestive system would suffer without them. A diet lacking in prebiotics can cause serious health issues and even permanent damage to gut function.

Without proper amounts of prebiotics, studies have shown that our gut microbes are forced to look elsewhere for fuel, leading them to consume part of the all-important mucous layer of the intestines. This mucous layer is integral to not only the proper absorption of nutrients but is also the first line of defense against harmful microbes.

The adequate presence of prebiotics in your gut determines the effectiveness of your probiotics. Without proper intake of prebiotics, all the probiotics you are putting into your body will lack a fuel source, creating serious health problems.

The adequate presence of prebiotics in your gut determines the effectiveness of your probiotics. Without proper intake of prebiotics, all the probiotics you are putting into your body will lack a fuel source, creating serious health… Click To Tweet

box of vegetables - homebiotic - prebioticsWHERE CAN YOU GET THEM?

You can find naturally occurring prebiotics in lots of plants and whole-grain foods. Things such as oats, onions, garlic, cocoa, apples, and bananas all contain prebiotics.

Additionally, many pre-packaged or pre-made foods can be fortified with prebiotics. This is commonly done with baby formula and yogurt.

Another source, often recommended by nutritionists and medical professionals, is a fiber supplement. This is an easy way to consume a significant amount of prebiotics with minimal effort.

GREAT PREBIOTIC RECIPES

Looking to add some delicious prebiotic-focused recipes to your cooking arsenal? Check out these amazing options, perfect for any day of the week:

Ultimate Prebiotic Salad from Sophie Uliano

Oatmeal Smoothie by Beauty Bites

Leek & Potato Soup by Food Matters

Prebiotic Pancakes by Cultivate Beauty

 

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The Dirty Side of Clean: 5 Carcinogens in Cleaning Products

The Dirty Side of Clean: 5 Carcinogens in Cleaning Products | Toxic chemical spilled

Modern cleaning practices lead us to believe a spotless, disinfected home void of any sort of bacteria is the pinnacle of health standards. But what if we told you some of the ingredients in your cleaning products had the potential to seriously harm you and your family? Common household cleaners are not as ‘clean’ as they imply, they are often laden with toxic ingredients, some of which are labeled as carcinogens. Carcinogens are agents that have the potential to cause cancer in living tissue. We are going to dive into 5 carcinogens in cleaning products, showing you the dirty side of clean:

girls holding red lipstick and looking in handheld mirror - Homebiotic - the dangers of PhthalatesPhthalates

Typically Found In: Household products with added fragrance. The family of phthalates is found in a variety of man-made products from vinyl flooring to water bottles and has the potential to leech harmful toxins.

Why They’re Bad: In addition to being found in cleaning products the phthalate family of chemicals is found in personal products such as cosmetics and hair products, and in a large amount of PVC plastic products. These chemicals have been linked to liver and kidney disorders, and reproductive health problems:

“Recent studies also show that prenatal exposure to phthalates is associated with adverse impacts on neurodevelopment, including lower IQ, and problems with attention and hyperactivity,
and poorer social communication.”

Unfortunately, a large number of medical devices required for treatments contain significant amounts of phthalates and it is assumed that many people getting serious medical treatment can be exposed to harmful amounts of the chemical via leeching from medical products.

Unfortunately, a large number of medical devices required for treatments contain significant amounts of phthalates and it is assumed that many people getting serious medical treatment can be exposed to harmful amounts of the chemical… Click To Tweet

In addition to singular exposures, according to studies the risks from phthalates are cumulative, meaning the toxicity builds up over time, making its harmful effects much more lasting. They are also considered endocrine disruptors, linking their exposure to a variety of cancers.

white laundry on a clothes line - Homebiotic - is chlorine dangerousChlorine

Typically Found In: Toilet cleaners, laundry ‘brighteners’, and soap scum/mildew removers.

Why They’re Bad: At room temperature chlorine is a gas to it is typically processed and pressurized to be used in cleaning solutions. Chlorine is harmful whether it comes into contact with skin or mucus membranes, but can cause serious damage to the lungs if inhaled:

“Long-term complications may occur after breathing in high concentrations of chlorine. Complications are more likely to be seen in people who develop severe health problems such as fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) following the initial exposure.”

Other symptoms can be faster onset than pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), alerting you to potential serious exposure, such as dry cough and blurred vision. In addition to being extremely harmful to humans, chlorine is extremely detrimental to the environment. When washed into our waterways it can contaminate fish and other living organisms, leading to potentially harmful exposure to chlorine via ingestion by entering the food chain.

In addition to being extremely harmful to humans, chlorine is extremely detrimental to the environment. When washed into our waterways it can contaminate fish and other living organisms, leading to potentially harmful exposure to… Click To Tweet

While in its liquid form there is no evidence to support that chlorine causes cancer; however, when inhaled as a gas it can seriously aggravate existing respiratory conditions and is linked to many respiratory complications – including cancer.

storefront of dry cleaner - Homebiotic - 5 carcinogens in cleaning productsPercholoethelyne

Typically Found in: Carpet cleaning solutions and stain removing/spot treatments.

Why They’re Bad: Percholoethelyne, commonly called perc, is a staple in dry cleaning and carpet cleaning practices. It is favored because of its ability to remove grease, wax, and oil from fabrics. It is also capable of binding to a variety of materials making is a popular ingredient in paint removers, water repellants, and polishes. Although much of the population comes into relatively low amounts of exposure to perc, high exposure has a variety of serious consequences:

“Exposure to these higher levels of perc can lead to irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat and/or respiratory system. Short-term exposure to high levels of perc can affect the central nervous system and may lead to unconsciousness or death…”

The USDA made a ruling as of December 21st that any dry cleaning business operating in a residential building was no longer allowed to utilize machines using perc due to the risk to the building’s occupants. Aside from dry cleaners, perc is extremely common in automotive products and spot treatments – so don’t forget to read the ingredient list! Other names for perc include tetrachloroethene or PCE.

But is it a carcinogen? Yes! The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled perc as a Group 2A carcinogen, which means that it is most likely carcinogenic to humans. Similarly, the EPA has classified perchloroethylene as likely to be carcinogenic in humans by all routes of exposure (EPA 2012a).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled perc as a Group 2A carcinogen, which means that it is most likely carcinogenic to humans. Similarly, the EPA has classified perchloroethylene as likely to be carcinogenic in… Click To Tweet

pile of forks on napkins - Homebiotic - 5 carcinogens in cleaning productsAmmonia

Typically Found In: Metal polishes for things like silverware and jewelry. Also in bathroom/kitchen fixture and stainless steel cleaners.

Why They’re Bad: Because ammonia is used across a variety of industries it is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the United States. Ammonia is also produced naturally from the decomposition of organic matter, including plants, animals, and animal wastes. While much of the ammonia produced is used for the agriculture industry for fertilizer production, it is present commonly in household cleansers and products. These products are often liquids containing about 5-10% ammonia solution which produces a highly irritating, suffocating odor. Many people are harmed simply through improper ventilation while using ammonia:

“Most people are exposed to ammonia from inhalation of the gas or vapors. Since ammonia exists naturally and is also present in cleaning products, exposure may occur from these sources. The widespread use of ammonia on farms and in industrial and commercial locations also means that exposure can occur from an accidental release…

Anhydrous ammonia gas is lighter than air and will rise, so that generally it dissipates and does not settle in low-lying areas. However, in the presence of moisture (such as high relative humidity), the liquefied anhydrous ammonia gas forms vapors that are heavier than air. These vapors may spread along the ground or into low-lying areas with poor airflow where people may become exposed.”

While much of the ammonia produced is used for the agriculture industry for fertilizer production, it is present commonly in household cleansers and products. These products are often liquids containing about 5-10% ammonia solution… Click To Tweet

While ammonia alone has not been linked to any specific types of cancer, it is important that ammonia not be mixed with other chemicals, especially bleach! Mixing ammonia and bleach produce gases that are suspected to cause respiratory cancer in addition to being toxic enough in high concentrations to kill you.

slightly open dishwasher - Homebiotic - 5 carcinogens in cleaning productsTriclosan

Typically Found In: Hand soaps labeled ‘Antibacterial’ and often in dishwashing detergent

Why They’re Bad: Studies performed on animals showed that when exposed to high levels of triclosan, even in short term, reduced the level of thyroid hormones.  According to the FDA:

“Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products intended to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is added to some antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics—products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It also can be found in clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys—products not regulated by the FDA.”

In addition to showing signs of disrupting thyroid hormones, it is also thought to contribute to the development of bacteria and microbes resistant to antibiotics. This very reason is why we do not recommend cleaning mold with bleach or ‘antibacterial’ cleansers. Instead, try using hydrogen peroxide to clean and sanitize surfaces. Although little is still known about this chemical ongoing studies are investigating the potential of developing skin cancer after long-term exposure to triclosan in animals.

In addition to showing signs of disrupting thyroid hormones, it is also thought to contribute to the development of bacteria and microbes resistant to antibiotics. This very reason is why we do not recommend cleaning mold with bleach or… Click To Tweet

CONCLUSION

Many of us do not think twice about reading cleaning ingredients because our first instinct is to grab the one that works! Consider trying to find a more natural, non-toxic alternative for some of your everyday cleaning products to limit your exposure to these harmful substances. Opting for hydrogen peroxide or vinegar in place of things like carpet spot cleaners or mold removers will do wonders for the health of your home, and prevent harm to the environment as well!


RESOURCES

  1. https://experiencelife.com/article/8-hidden-toxins-whats-lurking-in-your-cleaning-products/
  2. https://www.ecocenter.org/healthy-stuff/reports/phthalates-products-disclosure-data-2016
  3. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-triclosan
  4. https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_tech.htm
  5. https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/perchloroethylene/#:~:text=Perchloroethylene%2C%20also%20known%20as%20perc,cleaning%20fabrics%20and%20degreasing%20metals.
  6. https://noharm-uscanada.org/issues/us-canada/phthalates-and-dehp#:~:text=Phthalates%2C%20a%20family%20of%20industrial,%2C%20lungs%2C%20and%20reproductive%20system.
  7. https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/chlorine/basics/facts.asp