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The “Farm Effect” & How It Can Create A Healthy Home

The “Farm Effect” & How It Can Create A Healthy Home | Woman feeding her chickens

Some people will read the title of this article and wonder, “what do farms have to do with the health of my home?” Don’t worry, no one is saying we need to live on farms. Unless, of course, we’re interested in being a farmer. However, a little education about the “farm effect” can have huge benefits to the health of our homes and the people who live in them.

WHAT IS “FARM EFFECT”?

The “farm effect” was founded by researcher Dr. Erika Von Mutius after doing several studies on children raised on farms. The results showed that these children have less incidence of asthma, allergies, and other illnesses. It appears that infants and children are protected from certain allergic and autoimmune diseases when they live close to animals, farm dust, and soil1,2,3.

The “farm effect” was founded by researcher Dr. Erika Von Mutius after doing several studies on children raised on farms. The results showed that these children have less incidence of asthma, allergies, and other illnesses. Click To Tweet

So the “farm effect” refers to the positive health outcomes of living on a farm. The results of these studies are undeniable, and many scholars and regular people are wondering how we can use this information to enhance our modern lives.

No doubt, most of us live in closed-off urban homes that barely resemble a farm environment. So how can we replicate these positive health outcomes so that modern humans can have these health benefits without living on a farm? First, let’s look at how the “farm effect” actually works.

HOW DOES THE “FARM EFFECT” WORK?

The most important thing to know is that it’s not the farm itself that creates the “farm effect,” it’s the microbes. It appears that living amongst many diverse bacteria, such as those found on a farm, has an enhancing effect on the immune systems of growing children. What that means is that microbes help train their budding immune systems to respond to allergens and bacteria in a healthy way2,3.

The repeated exposures to soil, animals, and other farm microbes help to develop specific white blood cells and other immune factors involved in inflammation and allergic reactions. In essence, the more the immune system is trained, the less it reacts to allergens.

It also means that the more developed the immune system is, the less inflammation will be present in the body. And as we are learning more and more, inflammation may be at the root of many common illnesses and conditions2,3,4.

The repeated exposures to soil, animals, and other farm microbes help to develop specific white blood cells and other immune factors involved in inflammation and allergic reactions. Click To Tweet

Knowing all of this, we can make different choices about how to take care of ourselves and our environment, including the place we spend the most time in – our homes. In short, we want to replicate the “farm effect” in our homes.

WHY DO I WANT TO REPLICATE THE “FARM EFFECT” IN MY HOME?

As much as possible, we want to improve the diversity of microbes in our homes so they resemble the microbes you would find on farms. These are called soil-based microbes, or bacteria, and they benefit us on many levels. Not only do they help improve our health and immune systems, but they balance out mold and bacteria that may grow unchecked in our homes2,4,5,6.

It may be confusing to read that you need more bacteria when trying to reduce unwanted bacteria, but this is an actual fact. Soil-based bacteria naturally compete with other pathogens creating a healthy balance7.

Replicating the “farm effect” in our homes means bringing in more soil-based microbes. It may sound complicated, but it’s easier than you would think. It involves a few changes and making decisions about which products we buy to clean and protect our homes.

Soil-based microbes in our home can help us achieve a kind of “farm effect.” And this will help improve our immune systems while providing a balance against pathogens like mold and harmful bacteria.

HOW CAN I BRING THE BENEFITS OF THE “FARM EFFECT” INTO MY HOME?

First, we need to have an environment that’s welcoming to soil-based microbes.

If our homes have an unwelcoming environment, then the healthy bacteria will be killed off before they have a chance to do their work. This means that we need to make decisions about cleaning products.

Research has shown that over-cleaning and using toxic chemicals can decimate both good and bad microbes8,9. So maybe we can relax a bit on how clean we need our homes to be. That’s not to say that we let dirt and grime build-up, instead, we just go a little lighter on our cleaning efforts. This has a positive side-effect of decreasing stress too.

Also, go easy on the harsh and toxic cleaners that contain antimicrobial agents.

Instead, opt for more enviro-friendly cleaners, such as Homebiotic Surface Cleaner, which won’t strip away your home’s vital bacterial defense. Harsh cleaning products have been shown to cause respiratory, skin, and eye problems as well as increasing bacterial resistance to these chemicals.

Next, we need to bring in more soil-based microbes, and there are a few ways that are not only fun but easy.

We can simply start by going outside more and having a hands-on experience with nature. We can let ourselves, our children and our pets play in the mud; roll in leaves, sit down on the grass, or whatever helps us get more intimate with nature2,4.

We may not live on farms, but we can access a similar environment by just spending more time outside and being less afraid of the outside coming in. Having said that, we can open our windows more and maybe adopt some plants that can add more green to our environment. Plants can bring in soil-based microbes, but they also have other properties that help develop our immune systems and decrease dangerous pathogens as well2,4.

Lastly, products like Homebiotic are made specifically to help replicate the “farm effect” in our homes.

The spray contains diverse soil-based microbes that act as a probiotic for your home. Once you clean with a natural, non-toxic cleaner, you can spray Homebiotic Probiotic Spray in all corners of your home.

Homebiotic Probiotic Spray can help create a balanced ecosystem in your home that resembles the “farm effect.” It may be easier than we think to replicate the “farm effect” in our homes; all we have to do is get educated, then take action.

 


REFERENCES

1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21060319
2.https://letthemeatdirt.com
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31401285
4.https://www.harpercollins.ca/9780062433640/eat-dirt/
5.https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137
6.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022
7.https://escholarship.org/content/qt68c2j665/qt68c2j665.pdf
8.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
9.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/478930

 

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4 Tips To Prevent Mold At Home

4 Tips To Prevent Mold At Home | Mold Growing on wall

Mold is often an issue for many home-owners and home-buyers. No one likes that musty smell, which is a tell-tale sign of mold growth in your home. And once mold has taken up residence, it’s hard to get rid of it. In this article, we’ll look at what causes mold, which homes are more affected, and what types of mold are dangerous to our health. Then, we’ll look at some simple tips to prevent mold in your house.

The trickiness of mold makes prevention a critical issue when considering the health and safety of your home. Prevention is much easier than having to clean and eradicate mold that has already spread to several areas of the house.

The trickiness of mold makes prevention a critical issue when considering the health and safety of your home. Prevention is much easier than having to clean and eradicate mold that has already spread to several areas of the house Click To Tweet

CAUSE OF MOLD GROWTH IN HOMES

Mold needs three important things to grow: consistent moisture, limited airflow, and food. Any areas that remain moist without airflow have the potential for mold growth. Mold likes to feast on materials such as drywall, carpet padding, dust, mites, and some plant and bacterial cellulose1,2.

WHICH HOMES ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE MOLD ISSUES?

A common myth is that older homes are more likely to be full of mold, but this may not be true. In fact, older homes tend to have more airflow, and the positioning of water faucets and bathrooms help prevent widespread water issues. Also, older homes tend to have a more diverse and rich microbiome that helps naturally balance out mold2,3.

Newer homes, on the other hand, are more tightly built, which reduces air circulation. They also contain more building materials that mold likes to eat2,3. Lastly, newer homes have a less diverse microbiome because they are cut off from outside soil-based microbes that would otherwise balance out mold3,4.

Mold is also likely to be an issue in homes situated in humid climates or where there has been a catastrophic flood. Also, over-crowded homes tend to have more problems with dampness and poor ventilation. Lastly, low-income rental units have higher mold issues due to less money spent on renovating and cleaning moldy areas in-between renters3.

However, the reality is that any home can be prone to mold if the conditions are right for their growth.

WHICH SPECIES OF MOLD IS DANGEROUS TO OUR HEALTH?

Common household mold includes species such as Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. The commonly feared toxic mold, otherwise known as black mold, is called Stachybotrys Chartarum5.

Common mold can cause allergic and asthmatic illness. In some cases, the illness can be severe if the person has immune issues or severe asthma and allergies. However, toxic black mold can be life-threatening, especially in people who have weakened immune systems. Thankfully, toxic mold is less abundant than common molds5.

Common mold can cause allergic and asthmatic illness. In some cases, the illness can be severe if the person has immune issues or severe asthma and allergies. However, toxic black mold can be life-threatening, especially in people who… Click To Tweet

No matter which mold you have in your home, they can all cause health issues depending on your medical history and immune system. Mold spores themselves can cause immune system issues, but more likely, illness occurs from the exposure to the mycotoxins produced by certain mold species2,6,7.

There’s no doubt that mold can be a real nuisance, and the best way to deal with it is to prevent it from growing in the first place.

4 TIPS TO PREVENT MOLD IN YOUR HOME

There are several ways to prevent mold from growing in your home. Some suggestions are more straightforward than others, but it’s worth looking into all of them to ensure that your family is safe and healthy.

1. Keep moisture as low as possible

Moisture collects in several ways: leaky faucets, condensation, accidental spills, flooding, a build-up of humidity in kitchens and bathrooms, and leaks around the shower and bathtub, to name a few.

Here are some tips to help keep moisture levels low2,8,9:

  • Make sure that all leaks or water accidents cleaned and thoroughly dried. Be extra vigilant to look for places that water may have escaped, such as under carpets or floor tiles.
  • Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are prone to mold because of their high-incidence of water leaks and condensation. Be sure to check hidden areas for moisture build-up. Check faucets and water tubes for leaks or condensation. Make sure the exhaust pipe from dryers is intact.
  • It might be worth it to buy indoor humidity monitors to put in a few locations around your home. They are relatively inexpensive and can help you understand moisture changes throughout the seasons.
  • For high-moisture areas, consider dehumidifiers or renovations that keep moisture in check.

Next, we’ll talk about ventilation because you can’t keep moisture low without proper airflow.

2. Proper Ventilation

Good ventilation is vital in helping to keep moisture levels down, and it requires both air flow and circulation. Proper overall ventilation will help prevent moisture build-up in areas that are hidden from view such as tight corners, under carpets, or behind furnaces.

Here are some tips to improve ventilation in your home2,8,9:

  • If the outside air is dry and warm (not humid), open the windows to let air come through.
  • In cold weather, when there’s more condensation, keep the windows shut but use fans to circulate the air. Check for condensation around windows and doors in the colder months.
  • Be sure that your air ducts and filters are obstruction-free and operating correctly. Also, be sure to check for mold in these ducts, furnaces, and air-conditioning units as they can continue to spread mold throughout the house.
  • In areas like the bathroom or kitchen, make sure the ceiling and stove fan is working well.
  • In areas prone to moisture that are also low-traffic (such as basements, laundry room, and crawl spaces), consider a dehumidifier that also has a fan to circulate air.

3. Make Small Structural or Cosmetic Changes

Making a few changes around your home will help prevent conditions with which mold will take up residence and grow.

Here are some ideas for structural or cosmetic changes that can help prevent mold in your home2,8,9:

  • If possible, remove carpets in favor of hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring. Be sure that the floor underneath is dry and mold-free before putting down new hardwood, tile, or laminate.
  • Don’t store items on the floor or in paper boxes. Mold loves to eat paper and dust that accumulates in these items. Mold growth in stored items is especially problematic if they’re kept in damp areas like basements. Consider purchasing shelves or storage bins to keep things off the floor and protected from moisture.
  • Consider upgrading or repairing your heating, air-conditioning, or ventilation system in your home if required. Many issues of mold, due to problems with these systems, can be prevented by ensuring they’re operating well and up to code.
  • Ensure that outside water drainage moves water away from the foundation, rather than towards it.
  • Make sure that materials used in renovation and construction (i.e., drywall and wood) are adequately sealed if they’re near a water source. Mold loves to feast on these materials, so don’t give them any moisture to help them grow.

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic Quarantine4. Choose Your Cleaning Products Wisely

Many of us think that applying bleach and corrosive cleaning products will eradicate mold, but this is not the case. These products can often disturb the environmental microbiome as well as adding vapors that contribute to chemical sensitivity in humans. We are learning that a healthy microbiome in the home provides a balance against these microbes naturally10,11.

Here are some tips around choosing cleaning products to help prevent mold growth:

  • Consider using Homebiotic Surface Cleaner to clean surfaces naturally without harsh chemicals that damage your home biome. The Homebiotic Surface Cleaner and Nano Sponge are extremely effective at cleaning without disrupting the microbiome.
  • Consider getting a probiotic solution, such as Homebiotic spray, to prevent the causes of musty odors in your home naturally. The Homebiotic Spray is made with healthy soil bacteria and is 100% safe for your home, family, and pets.

CONCLUSION

Hopefully, you know more about how mold grows, which homes are more affected, and how mold can be dangerous for our health. The prevention tips discussed above may help you in making decisions about reducing moisture, ensuring proper ventilation, making structural or cosmetic changes, and choosing cleaning products.

Mold will likely always be a part of our lives, but we can learn to live with it in better harmony while improving our mold prevention strategies.


REFERENCES

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indoor_mold
2.http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
3.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304
4.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022
5.https://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm#Q3
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492391/
7.https://www.who.int/bulletin/archives/77(9)754.pdf
8.https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-management/3.8-emergency-salvage-of-moldy-books-and-paper
9.https://iseai.org/your-definitive-mold-clean-up-guide/
10.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
11.https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137

 

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3 Healthy Home Hacks

3 Healthy Home Hacks | Grandparents jumping on a bed enjoying retirement in their mold free home

We’re lucky enough to be living in a time of great technological and biological advancement. We get to sleep in soft beds, enjoy indoor plumbing, and our houses are cool in the summer and warm them in the winter. In fact, as you’re reading this article you’re probably inside your home or office. We spend an average of 90% of our time indoors. This means that healthy home hacks are a very efficient way to improve your own health and well being. So, how do you keep your house clean?

What does “clean” mean?

If it looks clean and smells clean, is it clean? The answer to that is a resounding… “maybe”.

You’ll see lots of tips that share ways to keep your house dust-free or your carpets smelling fresh. Just because you can’t see it or smell it doesn’t mean it’s not there. For example, dust mites are there whether you can see them or not, and dust mite allergies are becoming common. It’s hard to know exactly what is in “dust”. For example, skin flakes make up about 80% of the material you see in a sunbeam. You’ll never look at sunshine streaming through your windows the same way again. So, let’s agree that there will always be microbes, bacteria, dirt and more in our homes, no matter how much you vacuum or how enthusiastically you scrub.

skin flakes make up about 80% of the material you see in a sunbeam. You’ll never look at sunshine streaming through your windows the same way again Click To Tweet

The next reaction may be to simply bleach everything so at least it’s all dead!

But, there are a few problems with this idea:

  • Not everything can be bleached, such as that beautiful wool rug in the living room.
  • Bleach doesn’t discriminate against what it kills, so it’s killing the good bacteria and fungi along with the bad, leaving you with an invisible wasteland. As the bleach evaporates, it contaminates the air and it leaves behind water.
  • The water left behind by the bleach is the perfect environment for mold, mildew and bad bacteria to grow in the post-bleach wasteland. Now you have opened the door to toxic mildew and mold that not only smells bad, but also lowers the quality of your air and triggers allergies in sensitive people.
  • Finally, if you kill off “most” of the good and the bad microorganisms, you’re killing off the weak and allowing the strong, pathogenic (bad!) ones to survive.

Think about it like landscaping your yard. If you just let whatever is already there grow without seeding it with “good” seeds, it will always have opportunistic weeds that get bigger and stronger, but no grass. You can mow the weeds down over and over, but that won’t create grass.

Using traditional chemical cleaners in your home are doing just that. At a microscopic level, you’re just mowing the weeds when you clean, but not making progress on the health of your home or the air you’re breathing. With a lawn, you need to put grass seed down and feed it properly. With your home, you need to provide the right microorganisms and nurture them so they keep the unhealthy ones in check for you.

So “clean”, from an overall human health perspective, should be redefined as a “healthy clean” that is good for both the naked eye and at a biological level. This results in a natural home (or office or car) that has the right balance of beneficial bacteria, and that is free of nasty mold and mildew.

To do this, you need the ability to know what the right balance is AND how to create it. So here are 3 healthy home hacks that are easy but impactful:

1. Use a good HEPA air filter. And keep it on while you clean!

This will help you with dust, tobacco smoke, and pollen, but isn’t going to have a measurable impact on Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold and other types of gaseous pollutants. There are bunch of options out there, so do your research. If a new filter isn’t in the cards, try turning your thermostat to “fan on”, which will turn the blower on and filter the air. It won’t heat or cool, it will just filter the air while you clean. It also means you’ll need to change your filter more often.

2. Stop using harsh chemicals, bleach and antibacterial cleaners.

They ruin the air and biodiversity of your home. You physically share a bunch of bacteria with your home, roommate, spouse, kids, and dog. We’re all connected with our environment. If you need another reason, stop using them for the good of the world. Triclosan, an antiseptic chemical still found in many antibacterial products, kills the easily killed bacteria and leaves behind the resilient ones — encouraging antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Plus, they often don’t work any better than traditional cleaning ingredients. Try something safer and more cost effective, such as vinegar (but not on natural stone) or baking soda.

Triclosan, an antiseptic chemical still found in many antibacterial products, kills the easily killed bacteria and leaves behind the resilient ones -- encouraging antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Plus, they often don’t work any better… Click To Tweet

3. Cultivate and support your home’s microbes.

This is where Homebiotic makes an impact on the quality of the air you breathe and your own personal microbe footprint. Your environment works with your body. There are billions of bacteria in your gut that you care for by ingesting probiotics through a pill, yogurt, or fermented foods. You also have tons of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and mites on your skin. Your environmental bacteria end up on you, impacting the biodiversity on your own skin. With so many microbes in, on and around you, be sure they are the good ones! In your home, you can balance out the bad microbes with good microbes (and spend a lot less time scrubbing).

homebiotic spray

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Cleaning Mold: Bleach vs Hydrogen Peroxide

Cleaning Mold: Bleach vs Hydrogen Peroxide | cleaning mold with hydrogen peroxide or cleaning mold with bleach

Although minor mold spots are easy enough to wipe away while cleaning, the mold often returns quickly. While you might think to reach for the disinfectant spray or prepare a bucket of bleach to douse the area to kill it once and for all, these are not the best solutions for fixing a mold issue. These disinfectants are named for their ability to dis-infect, or kill, microbes and while that may sound good, in many cases this can actually make a mold problem worse!

BLEACH 101

If you look underneath the sink of an average home, you’re most likely going to find a variety of disinfectants, including bleach. Bleach is often a go-to remedy for stubborn stains and is used for making areas of the kitchen and bathroom sanitized and clean, but have you ever wondered why?

The most common kind of bleach is chlorine bleach, a water-based solution containing sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Bleach removes stains from fabrics and non-porous surfaces by oxidizing and breaking down networks of double bonds between the carbon atoms making up the discoloration, removing the stain’s ability to absorb light. So the bleach doesn’t really neutralize and break down the matter creating the stain completely, just the bonds that make it visible to the human eye!

DOWNSIDES OF USING BLEACH

When you apply bleach to mold or mildew on tile grout, for example, it’s killing what’s on the surface and lightening the stain that the mold growth has caused, which makes it look as though it’s gone. But, that’s not the whole picture.

Bleach only works well on non-porous surfaces, and isn’t effective on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall or tile grout. While it may be effective at killing mold on the surface, the chlorine is unable to penetrate into the surface, so is either left on the surface or evaporates into the air of your home. Meanwhile, some of the water does seep into the surface and provides moisture to help the surviving mold grow back. And it does, more quickly each time it seems! If that wasn’t bad enough, you’ve now added harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home as well.

Bleach only works well on non-porous surfaces, and isn't effective on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall or tile grout. While it may be effective at killing mold on the surface, the chlorine is unable to penetrate into the surface,… Click To Tweet

Another reason to not use bleach to clean mold is even if the actively growing mold is killed, many of the health effects of mold are actually due to their byproducts, called mycotoxins, which bleach doesn’t affect. Bleach is also highly irritating to use, and should only be used with personal protective gear such as eye protection, a mask, and gloves, as well as good ventilation. For these reasons, we definitely recommend against using bleach to clean mold.

IS HYDROGEN PEROXIDE BETTER?

Hydrogen peroxide is often referred to as an oxygen bleach, because it acts as an oxidizer, chemically attacking the cell wall of bacteria, often rupturing it entirely. Regular 3% hydrogen peroxide is effective at killing surface mold, and only needs to be sprayed on and left for 10 minutes or until it stops fizzing. Repeat as necessary until the visible mold is gone, taking care to not over-wet the surface.

The Homebiotic Surface Cleaner is also an effective way to clean mold as it contains citric acid. Unlike conventional chemical cleaning products, that strip beneficial microbes from home surfaces, Homebiotic allows you to clean surfaces naturally without harsh chemicals that damage your home biome. Following up your cleaning with the Homebiotic Probiotic Spray will help you maintain a natural, safe balance of microbes on surfaces, which will protect your home and family against exposure to toxins that could negatively impact your health.

I’VE CLEANED THE MOLD, NOW WHAT?

Regardless of what product is used to clean a surface, if the surface is left bare it will quickly be repopulated. If nothing is done, either sub-surface mold will grow back, or perhaps a harmful bacteria lurking in your kitchen or bathroom will move in.

The solution is to reintroduce friendly bacteria from healthy soil

These friendly bacteria naturally balance out these unwanted guests. When cleaning your home, and especially when cleaning mold growth, applying the Homebiotic Probiotic Spray  immediately afterwards will help keep these surfaces stay clean at a microscopic level. Homebiotic Probiotic Spray is colorless and scent-free, so you won’t even notice it’s there. It just forms a probiotic barrier for your home… naturally.

bathroom