Exposure to chronic mould or mycotoxins can cause an inflammatory immune response in sensitive people. Mould-contaminated indoor spaces can negatively impact human health. An increase in upper and lower respiratory conditions can be linked to chronic mould exposure.
Mould spores can trigger the production of cytokines and chemokines, which mediate inflammatory and immune reactions. Mould exposure can cause asthma, but it can also contribute to atopic skin symptoms as well.
Fungal sinusitis, T and B cell abnormalities, central and peripheral neuropathy, sarcoidosis, chronic fatigue, respiratory infections, and asthma have all been linked to exposure to mould which occurs in water-damaged homes or workplaces. Moulds, along with bacteria, generate biofilms, which are contributors to conditions such as chronic rhinosinusitis.
Biofilms are mucous bubbles that protect the fungi and the bacteria making them resistant to immune defense and antibiotic or antifungal treatments. In the nose and sinuses, the biofilm can enable the fungus to persist, making treatment more challenging.
Exposure to indoor moulds, spores, and mycotoxins can cause neurological and respiratory symptoms including diminished mental capacity, dizziness, airway irritation and bleeding, and asthma. Mould toxicity can also cause diminished reaction times, balance problems, blink-reflex latency, visual field disturbances, and weakened grip strength.
High concentrations of mould toxins can also cause serious conditions like cardiomyopathy, hypertension, cancer, brain damage, and kidney disease. Just small traces can cause lethargy and disorientation.
Antibiotics that are made to destroy bacteria originate from mould. A large percentage of human tissue is made up of bacteria and nearly every cell in the body is supported by thousands of bacterial mitochondria. Fungi and moulds, can damage our mitochondria, eradicate the good bacteria in the gut and disrupt brain function significantly.
Polyphenol-rich foods, including coffee, beer, chocolate, wine, and grains, tend to contain elevated levels of a toxic mould called ochratoxin A (OTA). OTA damages the mitochondria and causes oxidative stress, which disrupts cellular processes, and impairs antioxidant activity. OTA destroys healthy cells, accelerates ageing, reduces mitochondrial function, and suppresses immunity which can make us more susceptible to autoimmune diseases and cancer.
It is important to check our homes and workplaces for moulds. Even old water-damaged areas can harbour persistent moulds that can negatively affect our health.
Apart from those listed above, there are many other foods that contain high levels of mould and these include:
- Dried fruits
- Soya sauce and other commercial sauces
Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 2 November 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am.