If you have environmental sensitivities, you know that the modern world wasn’t designed with you in mind.
That goes for all sensitive individuals.
Those on the spectrum, empaths, folks with auto-immunity, biotoxin illness, etc…
This post is also for those with unexplained health concerns… any unexplained health concerns… I’m talking to you, bebes with chronic sinus infections, post-nasal drip, random rashes, allergies, anxiety, depression, chronic diarrhea… yes, every one of you guys. This post is for everyone, whether you realize it or not.
Some of us are fortunate enough to know that we are sensitive to our environment. For those who don’t know, yet, maybe you have some kind of intuition about it and that’s why you’re reading this article.
The truth is, if you have any kind of chronic or intermittent health concern, from diabetes to cancer, your environment is probably playing a role in making/keeping you sick.
Why is your environment making you sick?
When I use the term environment, I typically use it to mean anything you come in contact with outside of your body.
In the epigenetic sense, though, it could even include your thoughts.
In the broadest meaning, your environment is what controls gene regulation; AKA nurture versus nature. Like in identical twin studies where one has cancer and the other does not.
The genes are identical, but the environment has modulated which genes are expressed and, therefore, making one sick and not the other.
In this article, I’m going to use the term environment in a much more conservative sense to embody only things like your home, car, workplace, and things of that nature.
If you’re still unsure how something like the air you breathe in your apartment or at work could contribute to the development of diabetes, allow me to give you the quick and dirty.
How Your Environment Can Trigger All Kinds of Disease
Most modern disease is epigenetic in nature.
That means that your genes predispose you to a particular disease state, but your environment (food, drink, thoughts, air you breathe, anything you put on your skin, light, sound, electricity, etc…) determine whether or not you will actually develop disease.
Everyone has two copies of each gene.
You get one from each parent. Heterogeneity of a particular gene means you have may have one wild-type (normal) copy and one pathogenic (associated with disease) copy.
Only one copy of each gene is expressed at any given time.
Your environment will either methylate or acetylate your DNA, which is just a fancy way of saying your environment sends the signal to your body that determines which gene variant to use.
Methylation and acetylation are akin to “turning on” or “turning off” your genes.
Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, the leading clinician and clinical researcher on biotoxin illness (a type of environmental illness often caused by mold exposure), says that “your genes load the gun, but your environment pulls the trigger”.
Exposure to biotoxins, especially mold, can trigger a cascade of inflammatory events that can cause inflammation at the leptin receptor site.
That leads to leptin resistance.
Leptin is the hormone that is mostly known for signaling to your body that you are full and do not need to eat.
If you have leptin resistance, you may be producing an excess of leptin, but it’s not sending the signal that you’re full.
Well, the same exact thing happens with insulin (the primary hormone involved in blood sugar regulation), as well as other hormones, when genetically predisposed people are exposed to toxic mold.
If you have diabetes, cancer, anxiety/depression, irritable bowel syndrome, skin problems, etc… peep these tips below to determine if your environment may be part of the trigger.
How to Find and Maintain a Healthy Environment
- How to avoid water-damaged buildings:
Satellite view the roof – check for a flat roof, cracks in the roof, dark spots with standing water, and consider whether the area is prone to heavy rains, extreme heat, hurricanes, or if there are big trees that could damage the roof during a heavy rain.
A flat roof in, for instance, Florida will be prone to cracks from the heat and standing water from heavy rains that will infiltrate the building through the cracks in the roof.
An ideal roof would be metal and angled.
Check the ceiling – check for brown spots in the ceiling, inside the building. If there is water damage, there is mold.
Check the temperature and humidity – a well-maintained indoor environment should not exceed 76 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature or 46% humidity. If either one of those conditions persists for 3 days or more, mold will grow. You may not be able to see the mold because most mold is hidden behind walls, but it is there.
ERMI testing – one of the easiest ways to check for mold and other bacteria is to test the dust that has accumulated in the building.
ERMI stands for Environmental Relative Moldiness Index and is a test developed by former EPA scientists to determine how moldy a building is in relation to other buildings tested.
HERTSMI is a similar test that evaluates only the 5 most pathogenic mold toxins, but also tests for bacteria that can cause harm after water-damage.
Indoor air testing performed by a run-of-the-mill mold testing company tests for mold spores in the air, not mold toxins. Air sample tests are highly inaccurate and out dated.
The smell test – scientific studies published by the EPA show that the musty smell of mold is actually the best indication of whether or not mold is present.
They performed ERMI testing in different buildings and on different floors in the same building and found that the reports of the smell of mold was positively correlated with how high the area tested for mold toxins.
Gauge your symptoms – most people will exhibit some signs of mold exposure symptoms within 15 minutes of exposure, but for some it may take weeks to become evident.
Symptoms include: numbness/tingling of lips, face, or hands, a feeling of internal vibration, ear ache, sinus headache and/or sinus drainage, diarrhea, nausea, migraine, dry cough/back of throat itch, fuzzy thinking, blurred vision, anxiety, rage, crying for no reason, and other symptoms.
If you feel these immediate symptoms, you have about 15 minutes to leave the building before you develop lasting damage.
Some symptoms won’t manifest immediately, and you’ll develop chronic inflammatory responses over the course of a few weeks.
To test for mold exposure, you can have blood drawn to monitor TGF beta 1 (anything over 2,000 is indicative of mold exposure), MMP-9 (anything over 300 is not indicative of mold exposure), and MSH (anything below 50). You can also have your urine analyzed by Real Time Labs to determine the presence of mycotoxins. By determining which mycotoxins are present in your urine, you can determine what species of mold you were exposed to.
Inquire about past leaks – One of the best ways to find out if a building will have mold is to simply ask the grounds keeper or owner about past leaks or water-damage.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to get specific here. Ask if the pipes have ever leaked, if the sinks have ever leaked, if the bathtub or toilet have ever overflowed. Ask if there has ever been storm damage, skylights/windows leaking, and ask if they’ve ever had a professional take a look at the coils of the A/C unit.
When I move into an apartment that has been previously lived in I will ask the property manager to check the maintenance logs for such repairs or work orders. If there are multiple units available, they will usually direct you to one that has the lowest risk for you even if they won’t divulge the actual maintenance history of the apartment, itself. The truth is, property managers don’t want to have to deal with a tenant that is sick due to their apartment. They will help you avoid that possibility for their own liability.
How to avoid mold growth – once you’ve settled in to a place there are things you need to keep in mind to avoid mold growth. Keep the temperature and humidity down, as mentioned above. You can buy a gauge that will tell you what your current temperature and humidity level is. If you need to, you can purchase a dehumidifier.
Leave windows open when you can, if it’s not too humid and hot outside. Tightly sealed buildings make it easier for mold to grow.
Diffuse Thieves oil in your home. Thieves oil is a blend of eucalyptus, clove, rosemary, lemon, and cinnamon. It’s actually been shown in studies to neutralize mold in the air, as well as in the wash with your laundry.
Invest in a good air purifier. Mycotoxins are nanoparticles and even the best HEPA filter cannot filter something that small. Instead, look for air purifiers that use UV light or ozone technology to neutralize mold toxins. I use the Molekule. This link will get you $75 off! I’ve also used the IQ Air, as well as the Air Oasis. The Molekule is my favorite out of all of them. These three, however, are my top three picks for mold.
Act quickly – if you do experience water damage, act quickly. Mold will grow within 72 hours of water damage; therefore, you need to clean up, dry, and remove damaged building materials within 3 days of water damage to reasonably avoid mold growth.
Always use a reputable environmental specialist to remediate mold. There are many procedures that are crucial to the health and safety of your home and yourself that landlords and maintenance crews simply will not have the expertise or tools to carry out. Most states, if not all, have laws in place to protect you from cheap (even well-meaning) landlords who want to DIY the mold remediation. Don’t let them.
Avoid Electromagnetic Fields (EMF’s)
- How to minimize your exposure to EMF’s:
Check the outside of the building – check the outside of the building for meters the power company uses to read the electricity usage. These things are highly electromagnetic.
Also check the powerlines to see if several converge right beside your apartment or house.
Cell towers – check for nearby cell towers. Depending on your level of sensitivity, having one or more cell towers near your home could be to your detriment.
Turn off your Wi-Fi – you can hardwire your laptop, desktop, and maybe even your smart TV so that you do not need to utilize Wi-Fi all of the time.
At the very least, turn your phone to Airplane Mode at night, when you go to bed.
EMF filters and blockers – you can purchase some that plug into wall outlets and neutralize some of the dirty electricity for fairly cheap. I used Bulletproof brand, and I believe I paid $50 a piece for them back 3 years ago.
You can also buy pads to go under your mattress to protect you from your downstairs neighbor’s Wi-Fi, as well as a canopy to go over your bed that’s made of an EMF-blocking material. These are highly effective, but very expensive. Well worth it, though, if you’re very sensitive or if you have a child on the spectrum. It can really make a difference.
Salt lamps – salt lamps have a negative charge and can help to balance the positive charge of EMF’s in your home. I have them all over my apartment. They also produce a nice orange light that is beneficial to your mitochondria and can even help you get more restful sleep at night.
Choose an apartment over a garage – some apartment complexes are set up so that some second-floor apartments are over garages instead of another apartment. This arrangement is ideal for decreasing EMF exposure because you have one less direction for Wi-Fi to be coming from.
At one point I lived over a garage, in an apartment on the end of the building, and no upstairs tenant. That was the apartment where I was able to heal the most and feel the healthiest. It was also about 4 years old so most of the off-gassing had already occurred.
Minimize Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
- How to avoid as much “off-gassing” of building materials as possible
Pay attention to the age of the building – a building built within 3 – 7 years ago is ideal for avoiding the off-gassing that occurs with new building materials. You may want to avoid any homes that much older than that due to the risk of mold, though.
The same rule would apply to remodeling or other home improvements. You can also purchase items that are designated as low VOC if you plan on doing your own home improvements. This is probably going to be a more expensive route, but worth it if you’re very sensitive.
Furniture covers – if your furniture is off-gassing, you can use covers made of special material to block the VOC’s from affecting your health. This is especially helpful for some folks who are on the spectrum.
Use natural cleaners – you can have all of the above-mentioned boxes checked, but if you have a cleaning service come in the shampoo the carpet or bleach the kitchen and bathroom you’re still exposing yourself to harmful VOC’s.
If you use a cleaning service, either go for one that advertises the use of natural cleaning products, or purchase and provide your own for the cleaning company to use. I did this with a cleaning company a couple of years ago and as long as I reminded them, they would use the correct cleaning products. Whenever I didn’t remind them, however, they would gladly use their own toxic ones because they were stronger and required less effort. I completely understand, but I would have to leave the house and open windows until the chemicals dissipated or else I’d get a headache.
Get a pet
- Why you should get a pet
Your nasal microbiome – this point might sound silly at first, but exposure to pet dander has actually been shown in the scientific literature to be positively associated with lower inflammation and a healthier nasal microbiome.
If you don’t know anything about your nasal microbiome, it’s just as important as your gut microbiome, if not more so. You can read more about that here and here.
Obviously, don’t get a pet you’re allergic to, and never ever kiss your pet on the mouth. Dogs, especially, can carry a pathogenic form of staphylococcus Aureus that is detrimental to your overall health and very hard to treat. Your dog can pass this bacteria to you if you kiss it on the mouth.
What do Most of These Things Have in Common?
With the exception to EMF’s all of the above deal with chemicals and the air you breathe indoors.
That’s because the health of your nasal microbiome is paramount when it comes to living indoors and getting or staying healthy.
The outdoor air (assuming it’s not too polluted or subject to some biotoxin like ones produced by red tide or blue green algae) is the best thing you can breathe for your nasal microbiome, and your overall health.
It’s also the best electrical frequency for your body, in terms of bioenergetics.
The idea of creating a healthy indoor environment is to make it as close to the outdoor environment as possible.
If you can’t tolerate house plants or it’s too hot and humid to just open the windows, then the best you can do is make your indoor environment as least harmful as possible.
The Importance of Making the Change
It takes most people a while to really get comfortable with all of the things you have to pay attention to in order to stay healthy living indoors, but once you get it… you just get it.
Once all of these things became second nature to me I was able to avoid mold exposure and minimize VOC’s and EMF’s in my home. It’s never easy, though.
It takes effort to live in a world that was not built with your health in-mind.
Having said that, I have faith that you can do it, and I encourage you to try. The free market exists on the premise that whatever there is a demand for will determine what there is a supply for.
Therefore, if the world (or even just your neighborhood or region) sees a higher demand for safer living conditions, builders and landlords will be forced into providing them, little by little.
We’re currently seeing this take place in the food industry.
When butter coffee first stepped on to the mainstream scene, a grass-fed butter shortage took place. Restaurants are offering more organic, healthy, and farm-to-table options, and grocery stores are stocking more gluten-free and Paleo items.
So, fellow beautiful humans, you can make an impact on your own health while making an impact on the health of everyone else if you pay more attention to the health of your indoor environments.
Follow me on Instagram @Experimental_Betty to see how I find and keep my environment healthy!
PS. If you want to take a FREE eCourse about how to successfully heal yourself and become a #SelfHealerForLife, go to this link –> courses.selfhealerforlife.com
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