We watch what we eat and we exercise regularly, but a commonly overlooked aspect of our health is our living environment. What’s even more troubling is the toxins that may already exist in our homes.
Dave Asprey, who is now an expert in high-performance mind and body training and founder of The Bulletproof Executive, learned firsthand about how your home can impact your health from when he was growing up. He suffered from toxic mold exposure because the basement he lived in had suffered water damage from a flood. And Asprey was breathing in the toxic mold every day.
At the time, he was overweight, had asthma and suffered from frequent nosebleeds, sometimes 10 times a day. He would bruise for no reason and had rashes all over his body.
The doctors he went to didn’t have answers for him even after performing an allergy test.
“They said, ‘You’re allergic to cockroaches and kapok,’ which is a kind of filler for life vests in the ‘70s,” Asprey says. “I’m like, ‘Really? That’s all you have for me?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, we don’t know what it is.’ When I look at it now, they actually didn’t know. It’s not their fault. They weren’t trained in this.”
Asprey says nowadays when he talks to professional mold testers, they will find that 30 to 50 percent of homes test positive. The problem is modern homes are built airtight without much room for airflow and create a breeding ground for toxic mold.
“What happens is that you’re tired all the time. You get symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, multiple chemical [sensitivities] but worse of all your brain kind of turns off,” Asprey says. “You just don’t feel very good.”
Asprey eventually received a brain scan, which showed evidence of damage from toxic exposure in his early years. The effect was that certain parts of his brain showed no metabolic response. At the time of the scan, he was working on his master’s degree and full time at a soon-to-be successful startup. He was functioning, but not as well as he should.
“I was performing,” Asprey says. “It’s not like I was disabled, but I was so tired. I was angry all the time. I could barely hold it together.”
But by this time, this feeling was normal to Asprey.
“I couldn’t have even told you I was feeling cranky because it was a constant state for me. How do you drive without your middle finger, I mean seriously? That was how I was. When I look back on it now, it’s kind of embarrassing to be perfectly honest,” he says.
His prefrontal cortex, the most recently evolved part of the human brain, wasn’t producing any metabolic activity. When stress would occur in Asprey’s life, his brain would go straight to a flight-or-fight response.
Asprey was fascinated by toxic mold and began working on a documentary showing the effects of mold exposure on humans. He found out the mold we are dealing with isn’t the same as what our ancestors faced.
“The reason that these molds have direct cognitive effects is because we did it to them. Thirty or so years ago, we started spraying highly mutagenic anti-fungals on our crops,” Asprey says. “Most of the fungal things there would just die, but the ones that remained mutated very quickly.”
Asprey says while it might not kill you, cumulative exposure poisons our bodies. Mold growing inside of walls is generally out of sight and odorless. The only way to know if you’re breathing in toxic fungus is to get an air test done by professionals – generally they occur after a water leak. If you believe you have toxins in your home, it might be a good idea to research contractors to help you try and pinpoint where the mold is growing and fix the problem.
As far as eating mold-free food, try to buy local and organic as much as possible to reduce the amount of time mold has a chance to grow on food. It’s impossible to avoid all potential toxins in food, but making smart choices will affect your health positively.
“You don’t have to solve the problem perfectly,” Asprey says. “You just want to make slightly better decisions to help you move your health in the right direction.”