Is mold causing your leaky gut/SIBO?

By Dr. Kyle Warren 

Edited by Meghan Feir Walker

Do you suffer from leaky gut, SIBO, or other digestive ailments? Have you already tried several gut protocols to no avail? The culprit behind your continual leaky gut could be mold. 

Read on to learn how mold can affect your gut, cause leaky gut and SIBO, and keep you in a permanent state of discomfort if not addressed properly.

Wasted effort is a frequent frustration we see.

Wasted effort: A frequent frustration

Over the years, many patients have come to us with digestive problems like leaky gut, SIBO, and gut dysbiosis that are causing major digestive distress. 

Intestinal permeability is also known as leaky gut syndrome. It describes the state of a compromised gut lining where small holes in the lining grow large enough to allow things like undigested food, bad bacteria and gluten to enter your bloodstream. 

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is another common digestive problem that describes the state of your small intestine when bacteria increase or when unwelcome bacteria show up in the digestive tract. 

Gut dysbiosis merely describes the state of the gut when bad bacteria outweigh the good and there is an imbalance of bad bacteria wreaking havoc in your gut. 

We’ve had many people come into our clinic who had already dramatically changed their diet, were doing things to improve their good gut bacteria, were taking supplements and certain probiotics, and were working hard to get rid of SIBO (but it always came right back). They had been on good gut protocols, yet their symptoms persisted. They had worked so hard and had seemingly tried everything, were exasperated, and came to our clinic for help and insight. 

After working on their cases, we discovered that a common cause for unsolved digestive problems was actually coming from their home or work environment.

Mold can cause ongoing problems with leaky gut and SIBO. You may be getting exposed from your home or work environment.

Mold can cause leaky gut and SIBO 

Diet and gut supplements can’t fix these alone

We know it can be extremely frustrating putting in so much effort and care to follow strict protocols, only to feel like your efforts haven’t produced results. You can eat right, exercise, and take the right supplements and probiotics, but sometimes the issue is that things outside of the gut are feeding the problem. 

If you have tried eating healthier, exercising and taking certain supplements and yet are still struggling with bloating, indigestion and other gut problems, it’s important to see if mold is affecting you because mold can greatly affect gut bacteria and cause leaky gut and SIBO. Patients with digestive, neurological and inflammatory problems should consider mold as a possibility because it’s an incredibly common problem. 

We find mold issues in both old and new houses, almost equally. We’ve actually had just as many problems with patients living in newer homes as we have with patients living in older homes. 

A good question to ask yourself is whether your symptoms started or changed during or around a move, particularly within a year of moving to a new home or work environment. While this isn’t the only determining factor, it can give you some possible insight. 

Mold exposure can affect the gut.

How does mold exposure affect the gut?

One way mold exposure can affect the gut is because of bacterial toxins called lipopolysaccharides (LPS). 

LPS is the inflammatory part of bacteria that drives gut inflammation in SIBO. Bacteria and actinomyces (other microbial animals) live in water-damaged buildings and create LPS. When you’re breathing in air from water-damaged, moldy environments, you can also breathe in LPS which can cause SIBO in your gut and body inflammation. 

This is huge for many people. It means you can be working on your gut and get nowhere because you’re still breathing in mold and LPS.

Not only does LPS affect the gut, but the gut problems it promotes can also cause mental health issues and other neurological problems. 

According to sibocenter.com, “When LPS is absorbed into the bloodstream at higher than normal levels, as is the case in SIBO, it has emotional and cognitive effects. These include depression, anxiety and memory deficits.”

Besides the hurtful, uncomfortable symptoms gut problems produce, it’s important to resolve gut issues for your body’s sake. Around 70 percent of your immune system is located in your gut. The state of your gut can affect your mental health and neurological functions so greatly it’s often known as your “second brain.” Your digestive system is so important that when its health is impaired, it can greatly affect the rest of your body’s functions.

Tests we do in the office to evaluate gut health

In our clinic, we regularly conduct testing on patients when they report uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Along with a stool panel, intracellular nutrient panel, and food panel, we now also regularly check patients’ mold levels with a urine mycotox test.

Some of the tests we do:

Stool panel/intracellular nutrient panel

Food testing panel

Urine mycotox test

Other less common possibilities:

Testing for herbicide/pesticide/chemical levels

We want to know if you’re digesting your food well enough, if you’re absorbing the proper nutrients from your food, how well your gut is functioning, if there are types of unwelcome yeast, bacteria and parasites present, how your pancreas is functioning, and other crucial information. We can discover all of these details through good, accurate, thorough testing.

Stool panel

Stool panels are helpful because they can show us yeast, bacteria and parasites that are present. This can help us determine if you need to take certain probiotics, remove certain foods for a time, or incorporate particular supplements or herbs.

Micronutrient panel

Testing your micronutrient levels is always beneficial because it can show us if you’re deficient in any vitamins or minerals your body needs to function well.

Food panel

Food panels are important because we can discover if you’re reacting to a food that you’re still eating. It’s a fairly straightforward fix to make, and removing the offending food can greatly improve symptoms.

Urine mycotox test

In addition to those three panels, we’ve added mold testing through a urine mycotox test on almost all our evaluations because it’s such a widespread problem. 

Mycotoxin urine tests are our favorite way to test mold and mycotoxin levels. They allow you to see if your body is trying to eliminate mold or mycotoxins. It’s not normal for a person to have these toxins present in their system, so it’s a good indicator that you are dealing with mold problems if they are present.

One of the biggest fallacies I hear from time to time is that urine tests aren’t accurate because they will showcase mold found in food. If you ingest food that contains a bit of mold in it, this will become more of an acute problem, not a chronic issue that would show up in a urine test. Furthermore, many of the molds that show up on this urine test aren’t even molds found in food. 

Other problems not listed can cause gut problems as well, including tickborne illnesses, but mold is a common cause that should not be overlooked. 

Summary

What happens in your gut doesn’t only affect your gut. It impacts functions throughout your entire body. This is why it’s imperative to discover what is driving your digestive problems, and mold could be a contributing factor.

  • If you have changed your diet and been on a good gut protocol and your symptoms continue, it’s time to start looking into other factors that are causing your gut problems. 
  • Mold could be secretly driving your digestive issues.
  • Mold can mimic and cause leaky gut/SIBO.
  • LPS causes inflammation, SIBO, neurological problems and other damage to the body.
  • You can get LPS exposure from water-damaged buildings by breathing in the air.
  • Running the correct tests is imperative to knowing how to address your issues.

To learn how you can check for mold in your home or work environment, read this article on mold toxicity.

Stay tuned for more information on the action steps you should take if mold is an issue in your home or work environment. Remember, there is always a cause behind your conditions, and there is always hope for improved health.

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