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Can Mold Exposure Increase Your Coronavirus Risk?

Can Mold Exposure Increase Your Coronavirus Risk? | Mold growing on a window sill

The coronavirus pandemic has many of us gripped with stress and worry over the health of our families. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and people are naturally concerned about how to protect themselves and their home environments. And now that many of us are confined to our homes, we’re wondering how to make them as safe and healthy as possible. So we have to ask: can mold exposure increase your coronavirus risk?

One thing to consider is mold growth and how it may affect us in our homes. With more people spending time at home, mold may become a problem as we are eating, cooking, showering, and cleaning more. And for those who are already prone to asthma and allergies, mold can be a more serious issue. Particularly when it comes to infections like coronavirus and its complications.

One thing to consider is mold growth and how it may affect us in our homes. With more people spending time at home, mold may become a problem as we are eating, cooking, showering, and cleaning more. And for those who are already prone… Click To Tweet

The Effects Of Mold On The Immune System

Most people know that anyone with a compromised immune system can become very ill when exposed to mold. This is because they don’t have the right amount of immune cells in their blood to fight off a systemic fungal infection 1,2,3.

However, people with otherwise healthy immune systems can also be affected by the toxins that mold secretes. To be clear, mold on its own does not cause illness. Instead, it’s the mycotoxins that mold emits that can impair the immune system and cause illness. In other words, people who are sensitive to mold may also be slightly immunocompromised 3.

Research has shown that these mycotoxins can confuse and impair the white blood cells in our immune system, making them less able to protect the individual. Furthermore, confused white blood cells have a tendency to overreact, which accounts for many allergic reactions 1,2.

Mold & Its Role In Asthma & Allergies

Unfortunately, asthma and allergies have increased exponentially over the past many decades 4. Also, mold growth has increased, particularly within modern homes 5.

Experts have shown clear connections between household mold and increased allergic illness and asthma attacks 3,4,5. The mycotoxins in mold have been shown to both cause and exacerbate allergies and asthma.

The concerning part is that conditions like asthma and allergies reveal an already impaired immune system. This means that people with allergies and asthma are also more susceptible to secondary infections from bacteria and viruses 6.

germsDoes Mold Make Us More Susceptible To Viruses?

It’s possible that mold exposure can make us more susceptible to pathogens like the coronavirus. This is especially problematic for people who have asthma and allergies related to mold sensitivity.

Since many of us will be home more, household exposure to mold can become a problem. And if a family member has increased asthma or allergies related to mold, they are likely to have their immune system compromised 1,2,3,4. And of course, this makes them prone to develop other infections like the coronavirus.

Since many of us will be home more, household exposure to mold can become a problem. And if a family member has increased asthma or allergies related to mold, they are likely to have their immune system compromised Click To Tweet

Also, people with asthma and allergies tend to touch their faces more through sneezing and wiping their nose or eyes. They’re also likely to cough more, which means they can also be exposing other family members to illness as well 6.

This means that while we’re at home in isolation, we need to be more thoughtful about household mold and what it may be doing to the health of our family members.

Mold growth

What Can We Do To Control Mold Growth?

What can we do to prevent mold at home to keep us better protected against illnesses like coronavirus?

The following are some practical steps you can take now:

Decrease moisture build-up in your home.

Mold growth depends on moisture, so be sure to turn on fans, open windows, and fix any water leaks in your home. Decreasing moisture build-up through air ventilation and reducing water issues will go a long way to keeping your home mold-free 3,7.

Be careful with your cleaning practices.

Cleaning requires water, but be sure not to dump large amounts of water while you clean the kitchen, bathroom, and other household surfaces. When you’re finished cleaning, make sure all surfaces have been wiped dry 3,7,8.

Also, be careful not to use large amounts of bleach or other bactericidal cleaning agents. While we may need to disinfect certain areas during the current coronavirus pandemic, we need to be careful not to overdo it. This is especially important if no one in the home is currently sick. Too much of these harsh chemicals can clear out helpful bacteria while providing free real estate for mold to grow 3,7,8.

Take preventative measures.

Besides moisture, mold loves to eat cellulose-containing products such as paper, drywall, and wood fiber. Make sure you clean up any clutter that may contain these products around water faucets or potentially damp areas of your home 3.

When in doubt, do a mold test to find out if your home contains mold. If you know for sure if your home has a mold problem, then you can take appropriate actions to remove it.

Soil-based microbes are known to balance out the flora in a home environment and help keep fungi from growing unchecked. These microbes usually come in through dirt on our shoes and from being outside. So don’t be afraid to get outdoors and allow some dirt to come into your home 7.

Lastly, you can add good microbes to your home to balance out the biome of your home. Homebiotic’s home probiotic spray adds beneficial soil-based microbes to your home. These microbes naturally eliminate the cause of musty odors.

Conclusion

There are simple and clear actions we can take to prevent mold growth while isolated at home during this coronavirus pandemic. People should understand how mold can impact our immune system, especially those with asthma and allergies. And unfortunately, mold illness can increase susceptibility to other pathogens like the coronavirus.

Mold decreases and confuses the immune response of specific white blood cells, which causes illnesses like asthma and allergies. And for immunocompromised people, mold can be more hazardous.

As we spend more time at home and in the company of our immediate family, you may want to consider some practices to help decrease mold. This includes minimizing moisture build-up, monitoring cleaning practices, and implementing mold prevention strategies. In this way, we can protect our vulnerable family members and keep our immune systems healthy.


REFERENCES:

1. https://www.cell.com/cell-chemical-biology/fulltext/S2451-9456(19)30001-7?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2451945619300017%3Fshowall%3Dtrue
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4444319/
3. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28608416
5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935115000304
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4122981/
7. https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137
8. https://letthemeatdirt.com

 

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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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Got Dirty Kids? Great!

Got Dirty Kids? Great! | Kids making mud pies

Modern society tends to favor clean, perfectly kept children, but do dirty kids make healthier kids? There’s been some talk recently about the benefits of kids playing in dirt and that it may actually benefit their health. The discussion was sparked by research that showed how kids brought up on farms had healthier immune systems than those that had no exposure. It seems that exposure to farm animals, and the dust and dirt that comes with them, actually helps protect and build kids immune systems1.

It seems that exposure to farm animals, and the dust and dirt that comes with them, actually helps protect and build kids immune systems Click To Tweet

It makes sense that parents might then ask, “So, does this mean I should let my kids get covered in dirt or even eat dirt?” The question is valid and perhaps meant with some playful sarcasm; the answer, though, may surprise you. While it may be absurd to have your kids make a lunch out of dirt, having some healthy exposure to it may be a good thing.

WHAT IS HEALTHY DIRT?

When we speak of dirt, we’re really talking about outside soil. Many parents may get concerned about their kid’s health when playing in dirt. What they don’t know is that it contains some specific ingredients that can be healthy for us – microbes.

Outside soil contains microbes that are necessary for the health and wellbeing of all living things that depend on the soil for survival. The main essential microbes to consider are bacteria and fungi, and healthy soil requires balanced and diverse species of these microbes. Human beings, and the environments we live in depend on healthy soil to live well2,3.

WHY DOES A SOIL-BASED MICROBIOME MATTER?

The interaction of all the microbes in the outside soil is called a microbiome. It consists of microbes that co-exist as well as microbes that help or harm each other. Bacteria and fungi compete, help, and eat each other in a quest to find balance4,5.

Balance is essential because a microbiome that lacks balance will have microbes that have either decreased in numbers or and have over-grown. An unbalanced microbiome is called dysbiosis and can cause a range of health or environmental issues5,6.

We also have a similar internal microbiome in our digestive tract, skin, and reproductive organs. We know that the more diverse the microbiome is, the more balanced it is, and the healthier we are as a result5.

All living things are connected and need to live in balance. Although that may sound like a new age cliche, it happens to be a scientific fact. Studies show that external soil also affects the microbiome in our homes and within our bodies6,7. In a sense, microbes are always searching for a way to balance things out and survive.

Microbes within the home reflect the individuals living there as well as plants and food choices. Also, soil-based microbes outside of the house can be found inside depending on the movement of inhabitants and cleaning practices7,8,9.

What experts now understand is that the presence of diverse soil-based microbes inside the home can have a balancing effect against the causes of musty odors 7,8,9. Again, this is the essence of a healthy balance, which also parallels what we know about our internal microbiome. The more diverse our microbes are in our guts, the better our immune system and overall health will be.

HOW CAN MY FAMILY HAVE A HEALTHY EXPOSURE TO A SOIL-BASED MICROBIOME?

None of us want a pile of dirt in our homes nor do we want our kids to eat dirt, but we can begin to shift our ideas and take actions to help include soil-based microbes in our home. By making some changes, we can actually improve the overall health and balance in our home microbiome.

Here are some tips on how to promote a healthy exposure to soil microbes in your home:

Dogs are a big help with bringing in soil-based microbes.

This doesn’t mean you should get a dog if you don’t want one or can’t care for it properly. But if you have one, then you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Research has shown that homes with dogs have more diverse microbes, and many of them are soil-based7,9.

Encourage your kids to play outside more often.

A good exposure to the outdoors is helpful in so many ways. It promotes exercise, knowledge of nature, vitamin D exposure, and relaxation to name a few. Also, having your kids play outside can help introduce soil-based microbes into the home. Of course, you wouldn’t want to encourage them to bring in piles of it, but natural outdoor play may bring in small amounts that can be a help.

Adults can play outside too.

While we’re talking about kids, let’s not forget that adults need time in the outdoors for their health and stress relief as well. The more we can enjoy nature, the more we want to protect it and learn about it. And of course, we can also improve the soil-based microbiome in our homes by spending time outside.

Be careful with overuse of harsh cleaning products.

Research has shown that household areas cleaned with harsh detergents can obliterate the soil-based microbes. This may cause mold and bacteria to grow in more significant numbers than what you would want7,10. In fact, even environmentally friendly products can also cause trouble if used in excess.

Research has shown that household areas cleaned with harsh detergents can obliterate the soil-based microbes. This may cause mold and bacteria to grow in more significant numbers than what you would want Click To Tweet

Use Homebiotic spray to put natural soil-based microbes into your home.

This product is natural, easy to apply, and is the most effective solution since you get all the benefits of soil microbes without bringing the outside in.

 

CONCLUSION

So, should your kids eat dirt? Well, not exactly, but there’s a definite benefit for encouraging exposure to dirt for sure. By allowing a relationship to happen between soil-based microbes and your home, you can help improve the microbiome in the place you live, eat, sleep, and interact with your family.

There are several ways you can promote and encourage exposure to soil-based microbes. Having a dog and playing outside with your kids is a fun and easy way to bring in the soil without a lot of dirt. Also, being mindful of cleaning products and the frequency of cleaning can help ensure a balance. Lastly, using homebiotic spray can quickly bring the benefits of soil-based microbes into your home, without the dirt.


REFERENCES

1.https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137
2.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316303419#bib5
3.https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
4.https://escholarship.org/content/qt68c2j665/qt68c2j665.pdf
5.https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/01/29/579747917/the-cheese-does-not-stand-alone-how-fungi-and-bacteria-team-up-for-a-tastier-rin
7.https://draxe.com/health/gut-health/microbiome/
8.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
9.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0966842X1630021X
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25707017
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/

 

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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