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The Surprising Relationship Between Mold and Dirt

The Surprising Relationship Between Mold and Dirt

Our homes are places we look to for health, well-being, and protection from the elements.

We want them to feel safe and nourishing, allowing us to relax and make happy memories with our families. 

That’s why it’s so upsetting to find mold, dirt, or other pathogens inside our homes. When I discovered toxic black mold in my own house, I felt totally violated—the home I had turned to for comfort and security almost killed me. But this also led me on a journey to understanding how to make my home the healthy haven I want it to be, and I learned a lot. 

Over the past few decades, we’ve been taught to scrub, vacuum, bleach, spray, and wipe away any signs of invaders, but just like good and bad bacteria in the gut, we may actually need some of them to up our defenses against the real bad guys.

What we’re learning now, that we didn’t know before, is that outside dirt and mold have a surprising relationship. While many believe that the presence of dirt increases the chances of mold growth, this is far from the truth. If you want to reduce mold in your home, then more dirt is exactly what you need.

Your Home has a Microbiome

To protect and foster a healthy home microbiome, we need dirt. More specifically, we need soil-based microbes that live in dirt. Without them, dangerous and illness-causing microbes, like mold, are more likely to grow out of control.

Some soil-based microbes naturally compete with mold. So, when a home has a balanced microbiome that includes these soil-based bacteria, other dangerous microbes such as mold are kept to a minimum (1,2).

Think of your home microbiome as a tiny gladiator arena with microbes battling it out to find their rightful place. By doing so, all microbes find a peaceful balance that maintains the health of your home, which in turn, makes you healthier too.

Not only do the right soil-based microbes reduce harmful home pathogens, but they also help our internal microbiome to remain in proper balance. Research has shown that our gut microbiome matches that of our environment. If we wipe out the good microbes in our homes, it negatively affects our bodies (3).

Maintaining a Balanced Home Microbiome

What it boils down to, is that if you want a healthy home microbiome that keeps mold at bay while improving your immune system, you need more dirt and less conventional cleaning. There’s quite a bit of evidence to back this up.

For example, the “farm effect” has been well-documented in several research studies. Its basic premise is that kids who grow up on farms have less incidence of asthma because they were exposed to animals and farm-dirt teeming with diverse microbes. These microbes were found in their gut, which helped “train” their immune system to deal with various pathogens, including mold (2,4,5).

The fungal species found on farms are actually kept in balance because of the natural competition between bacterial and fungal microbes found in soil (1,2).

Now, many of us didn’t grow up on farms. In fact, our modern homes are even more cut off from the outdoors than ever before. So how can we have a home microbiome similar to those found on farms? How do we create a relationship between dirt and mold so that our homes and our health can benefit?

First, it’s time to re-learn how to clean our homes in a healthier way. Studies show that household areas that are not over-cleaned have more diverse microbe concentrations. As we know, this diversity can improve the home environment, which has a direct effect on our health and immune systems (3,6).

Consider getting rid of those harsh antibacterial cleansers altogether. Not only do they decimate microbe populations, but harsh cleansers also add to the chemical toxicity in our homes. Instead, try vinegar, essential oils, or natural castile soap.

Second, it’s time to bring in more dirt. There are many ways to do this, but now there’s a new technology that can make this easier: Homebiotic. You can think of Homebiotic as probiotic for your home. It’s an easy and effective way to introduce diverse soil-based microbes without the actual dirt. Over time, the Homebiotic spray prevents the growth of mold while providing a similar “farm effect” without living on a farm. After having my house completely mitigated for mold, I now use the Homebiotic spray all the time to make sure it stays mold-free and bacterially-balanced.

Key Take-Aways

I learned the hard way how dangerous mold toxicity can be. Creating a healthy home microbiome begins with understanding the relationship between soil-based microbes in dirt and pathogens, like mold. This knowledge helps us make better decisions about cleaning practices and bringing soil-based bacteria back into our home. 

 References

  1. https://escholarship.org/content/qt68c2j665/qt68c2j665.pdf
  2. https://letthemeatdirt.com
  3. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21060319
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22892709
  6. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

 

Mark Hyman MD is the Head of Strategy and Innovation, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.