Brain Fog, Out of Shape, and Weight Gain for No Apparent Reason

by Dr. Martin Hart DC, NASM-CES, TFT/EFT

Often, when our health is starting to move downhill or we are becoming chronically unwell, we may try the age-old advice of diet and exercise. Of course, it’s always a good idea to eat well and move more but what happens when that’s not enough? When mold illness is in the picture, this scenario is all too common. Many of our patients are eating right and exercising but are still fatigued, brain fogged, losing muscle, easily winded, and gaining weight! There are solutions, though. We just need to approach things a bit differently and look deeper to consider the impact that mold illness has on fitness and fat loss.

Mold’s Impacts Can Vary

Not every person with mold illness is severe. Oftentimes it looks like mild to moderate fatigue, brain fog, feeling out of shape, and weight gain for no apparent reason. People will come into our clinic looking for help with hormones or weight loss and the issue turns out to be mold! This may be a surprise for them, but it’s no longer surprising to us. Here’s how mold can cause you to struggle with fitness and fat loss.

  1. Leptin Resistance
  2. Mitochondrial Dysfunction
  3. Hypoperfusion (decreased blood flow)
  4. Hormone Imbalances

Leptin Resistance

Leptin was a buzz word in the fitness community for a few years, but no one really knew if it needed to be low or high or whatever! Turns out, that just like most of our other hormones, it needs to be in the right balance. The hormone leptin plays a role in regulating energy in our body or basically how many calories we either burn as fuel or store for later in our fat cells. While doing this job, leptin also regulates our hunger, growth factors, insulin, immune system, and metabolism.

With mold illness, mycotoxins and the inflammation they create from our immune system block leptin receptors in the brain. This prevents us from balancing our hunger cues and energy from fat cells. Since the receptors for leptin are blocked, the body produces more leptin (similar to the issue with insulin and type 2 diabetes). As leptin increases to try and overcome this issue, we become leptin resistant from both the mold toxins and the excess leptin. With too much leptin, our fat cells think we have plenty of energy, so they store excess calories as fat instead of letting it out of the cell.

Instead of feeding your cells and making energy, the excess leptin forces the food calories into your fat cells. What’s worse is later, when your body should pull energy out of the fat cell, high leptin won’t let it! It’s like you’re starving while looking at a feast!

For folks who are leptin resistant, dieting and exercise will make the problem worse until you deal with the root cause, mold toxicity.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondria are where we create energy inside of our cells. We take carbohydrates (sugar or starch) and fats, then turn it into energy. We call this energy ATP (adenosine triphosphate). This process works best with oxygen (which we will talk about in a moment) but can be done in short bursts without oxygen as well (think sprinting or lifting heavy weights).

When our mitochondria don’t work well, then we will be fatigued, brain fogged, have poor recovery, and store fat/sugars instead of burning them for fuel. In short, you end up fat, sick, and tired!

Mycotoxins, the toxins from mold in your home or food, injure our mitochondria and keep them from doing their job. It impairs them from making the energy we need so, instead, the food we eat just gets stored as fat.

Hypoperfusion (lack of blood flow)

In researching chronic fatigue, clinicians found that one of the major factors was lack of blood flow on the tiniest levels. Basically, our cells were not getting the nutrients and oxygen they needed to function properly, even if our larger blood vessels worked great. The mail trucks were trying to make their delivery but couldn’t get the package into the mailbox!

Oxygen is very important for how our cells function and make energy. If we don’t have enough oxygen to turn sugar or fat into energy, we start to burn “dirty fuel.” Without oxygen we are only 5% effective at using sugar to make energy, instead 95% of that sugar molecule is wasted and we create excess lactic acid. We will continue to use the cell’s sugar storage (glycogen) to make energy and continue making more and more lactic acid.

This energy-debt system can take multiple days to recover from after a bout of exercise (post-exertional malaise) because the body has to try to replace the lost sugars/glycogen in the cell. It has to repay the debt. It could have used its savings account (fat cells) but leptin resistance means you can’t access that stored energy. So now you have to keep burning sugar, make more lactic acid (hello muscle burning sensation), and sometimes evening burning protein (IE: losing muscle), to keep up. This looks like getting fatter while becoming weaker.

Mold toxins create many layers of inflammation in the cells and tissues. This inflammation from our immune system blocks blood flow to our capillary beds (tiny blood vessels), reduces VIP (vasoactive intestinal polypeptide), and keeps the oxygen and nutrients from getting into our cells. Our cells starve, and we end up feeling fat, tired, and lazy.

Hormone Imbalances

Many people blame weight gain on hormones, and they aren’t wrong! Certain hormones are prone to make us gain weight such as elevated levels of insulin and estrogen. Other hormones can get too low and cause weight gain, fatigue, or muscle loss including low testosterone and hypothyroidism. These hormones are released from various glands like the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, and testes. If we are too low or too high in certain hormones, we need to look at glandular health and figure out what’s going on. In mold toxicity, mycotoxins, and the inflammation they cause, disrupt our hypothalamus and pituitary, causing major imbalances in testosterone, estrogen, thyroid, and adrenal hormones. You can try hormone replacement therapy all you want, but it won’t fix the issue if mold toxicity is the culprit.

Addressing The Issue

Each of these steps builds on the one before it to create a solid foundation for healing, fitness, and fat loss.

  • Test your home and body for mold. Use EC3 mold plates to test your environment, the more plates tested the better.
  • Create a clean environment that promotes healing from mold exposure.
    1. Use appropriate remediation if necessary.
    2. Fog on a regular basis.
    3. Clean regularly with anti-fungal products.
    4. Change HVAC filters every 1-3 months.
    5. Use air purifiers.
  • Turn down inflammation.
    1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet (avoid grains, dairy, sugar, and processed foods).
    2. Use specific supplements that support reducing inflammation (fish oil, skullcap, turmeric, vitamin C).
  • Improve Leptin Resistance
    1. Finish your dinner 4 hours before bedtime.
    2. Eat a high protein breakfast early in the morning.
    3. Eat three meals per day, NO SNACKING.
    4. Eat protein at every meal.
    5. Limit your carbohydrates to 100 grams per day or less.
    6. Limit blue light exposure and screen time after dinner.
  • Boost your mitochondria.
    1. Get plenty of sunlight.
    2. Feed your cells with healthy foods such as coconut oil and cacao.
    3. Utilize specific nutrients such as CoQ10, PQQ, B-Vitamins, Phosphatidylcholine, magnesium, thiamine, among many others!
    4. Exercise regularly but don’t exceed your tolerance. Start slow and low and work up!
  • Improve blood flow.
    1. Nutrients such as glycine help to increase VIP in the brain and improve blood flow to cells.
    2. Nourishing foods such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, beets, and garlic can all improve blood flow (but make sure you tolerate them).
    3. Aerobic exercise helps to boost blood flow and circulation.
    4. Deep breathing exercises can move blood and support your cardiovascular system.
  • Balance Hormones
    1. Have your hormone levels checked.
    2. Use targeted homeopathy to heal the pituitary gland and balance hormones such as CellTropin.
    3. Minimize foods and toxins that disrupt hormones such as soy, plastics, or BPA.
    4. Directly support the affected endocrine glands, especially your adrenals.

If you are struggling with your fitness or weight, it’s time to look beyond just diet and exercise. Find the root cause, such as mold toxicity, and deal with those above issues. Let us know if we can help in any way.

We hope you found this article helpful. Comment below with questions or feedback. You may also reach out directly to Dr. Hart and his team at Keystone Total Health.