Gastrointestinal Issues and Mold and Mycotoxin Illness
By Cesar Collado
Almost every person suffering from mold-related illness or mycotoxicosis experiences gastrointestinal problems in one form or another. People experience gastric distress, leaky gut, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and gastroesophogeal reflux disease (“GERD”.) While I often focus on the inflammation, cognitive, sinus issues, and hormonal dysfunction, I have not focused on the impact of mold illness on the gut and the body’s excretion functions. These can be the primary symptoms for many and can be misdiagnosed or overlooked when viewed beside other more noticeable and attributable symptoms with mold illness. Today, I will focus on the mold and mycotoxin impact on the gut and potential solutions.
The Role of Bile in the Body
The liver is our body’s main detoxification organ. It is our primary “filtration system”. The liver secretes bile which is stored in the gallbladder. Bile is a greenish yellow, thick, sticky fluid. It consists of bile salts, electrolytes, bile pigments, cholesterol, and other fats. The gallbladder is the storage sac that holds bile. Bile has three important functions in the digestive system:
- Bile contains bile acids, which are critical for digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine;
- Many waste products, including bilirubin, are eliminated from the body by secretion into bile and elimination in feces;
- Bile acts as a lubricant to pass waste through our bowels.
Bile plays a leading role in detoxification. Bile binds up toxins in the gut. The bile gets released into the gastrointestinal system, moves through, and then leaves our body via our stool. Without proper bile secretion, toxins cannot be pushed to the liver, caught, and bound for elimination. That is one of the primary ways that we release mold and chemical toxins and heavy metals.
When the body reaches its toxic load, bile is not released efficiently anymore, and inflammation and infections occur in the gut. This creates obstacles for the bile to perform efficiently. Detoxification pretty much grinds to a halt.
There is a huge component to our liver and bile production that plays a role in constipation. Toxins, molds, and heavy metals can bind to each other and create difficulty in bile being released into your gut. The slow or erratic release decreases its lubrication function. This inhibits the body’s ability to move things through the gastrointestinal system, and thus, causes constipation. When a person is constipated, you have to consider that bile production might have slowed.
How Can Bile Be Stimulated?
Bile production is largely based on the foods we eat. Certain foods can increase bile production. These foods include celery, radish, and artichokes. Polyunsaturated fat-rich diets also increase bile acids and decrease cholesterol levels in the liver and blood. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These are essential fatty acids that the body needs for brain function and cell repair and growth. Our bodies do not make essential fatty acids, so you can only get them from food.
Omega 3-rich foods include fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and anchovies. Other sources include flaxseed, chia seeds, avocados, and walnuts. Optimal sources for Omega 6 fatty acids include poultry, eggs, evening primrose oil, borage oil, and pumpkin seed oil. Industrial oils are now known to be the main sources of the inflammatory response to Omega 6’s.
It is important to have the right balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. An excess of Omega 6 fatty acid foods can have a pro-inflammatory response. The excess of omega 6 fatty acids in our foods are a result of the post-industrialized western diets. High levels of vegetable oils, sunflower oils, and soybean oils in processed foods have created a disproportional balance of omega 6 fatty acids and have led to an increase in inflammatory disorders, heart disease, and autoimmune disease.
There are other foods that improve liver function and bile production. These include cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green and red cabbage. Bitter, dark leafy greens, like collard greens, mustard greens, kale, bok choy, swiss chard, and watercress also stimulate bile production.
Bile Acid Diarrhea
Bile acid malabsorption (BAM) is a condition that occurs when your intestines can’t absorb bile acids properly. This results in extra bile acids in your intestines, which can cause watery diarrhea. There’s no clear explanation for why the colon doesn’t fully reabsorb bile acids. Inflammatory diseases in the gut caused by mold exposure include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, silent celiac disease or “leaky gut”. This also decreases the ability to absorb nutrients, which impacts wellness. In these cases, low fat and anti-inflammatory diet are often prescribed to prevent inflammation. In some cases of severe diarrhea, a physician may cautiously use chemical binders such as cholestyramine (Questran), activated charcoal, bentonite clay, and colesevelam (Welchol) to bind to and remove bile acids from the gut. Diarrhea in mold sufferers requires careful considerations because of the importance of nutritional absorption during detoxification or removing toxins.
Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (“GERD”)
One significant cause of GERD in mold patients is candida overgrowth. It is often discovered by ENT physicians while performing an endoscopic examination of the sinuses where candida is visually identified. Patients are recommended to follow a Candida Diet to starve the candida by avoiding sugars and simple carbohydrates which fuel overgrowth. Read more about candida overgrowth from Catherine at Moldfreeliving.com HERE.
In people with mold illness due to water-damaged buildings and mycotoxins, they usually have a reduced melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH). This appears to promote edema in the tight junctions of the gut producing “leaky gut”. There is an increase in bile salt production acutely. As excessive bile salts move down in gut they can add to the loosening of tight junctions in jejunum and ileum. However, over time bile flow is slowed in the chronic inflammatory response, and there is a sludging of bile and reflux of bile into the stomach and the person can get belching, abdominal pain, and bloating.
Bile Reflux, also called duodenogastric reflux, is a condition where the bile flows upward i.e. refluxes from the small intestine towards the stomach and esophagus. It can also be misdiagnosed as Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD) or accompany can accompany GERD caused by mold.
What differentiates Bile Reflux from GERD are some of the difficult symptoms
- Intense and lasting abdominal pain
- Abdominal pain after consumption of food
- Frequent heartburn which is not corrected by treatment for gastric reflux
- Unintended weight loss
Your Gut Health is Critical to Your Overall Wellbeing. Mold and mycotoxins have a direct impact on inflammation in the gut. The gut houses 70% of your immune system. Inflammation in the gut can cause a variety of symptoms making normal livelihood near impossible. In addition to discomfort and “leaky gut”, autoimmune diseases can be caused by systemic, chronic inflammation. Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease can be the result. Proper nutrition and an anti-inflammatory diet are important to stave off
inflammation in the gut. In addition, maintaining your gut microbiome to avoid candida or fungal overgrowth is essential. Monitoring antibiotic use and using an antifungal or candida supplement to manage fungal overgrowth can be helpful in this process. Adding Citridrops Dietary Supplement to water and drinking daily will aid in the fungal overgrowth management in the gut. Probiotics also play an important role in managing the gut. Probiotic supplements and foods such as yogurt can play an essential role in maintaining gut health.
Freedom from gut discomfort is important to feeling well and living a normal life. Unfortunately, there are numerous factors that impact gut health and, when the gut is not functioning well, the rest of the body suffers too. Understanding the importance of gut health and the different modes of dysfunction can help you and/or your physician to properly diagnose and treat the whole body. Misdiagnosis is an issue with gut health. Knowing what proper function is and the role of nutrition and medicine can go a long way toward achieving wellness.
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