How a mouldy home can impact your gut health

A mouldy home can directly impact our gut health. (Getty Images)
A mouldy home can directly impact our gut health. (Getty Images)

While it is well known that the food we consume, and even the exercise we do, can impact our gut health – did you know that a mouldy home can affect it too?

One study from 2021 found that exposure to mould spores could exacerbate gut conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

According to the English Housing Survey, approximately 904,000 homes in England have damp problems, and the latest survey says this affects as many as 11% of private rental properties compared to 2% of owner-occupied homes.

Another report from the House of Commons found that damp homes are more likely to affect households with an older person residing in it, single parent households, homes with children, low income households, and households with people from a minority ethnic background.

"Research suggests that living and working in buildings that are affected by moisture damage and dampness has been associated with adverse health outcomes, specifically respiratory symptoms and infections, as well as the worsening and onset of asthma," Kim Plaza, Technical Advisor at Bio-Kult, says. "These health conditions may be linked to the changes in fungal and bacterial exposures, as a result of the moisture within the home."

So, how exactly does mould exposure link to gut health? Read on to find out.

The link between mouldy homes and gut health

"Unfortunately, symptoms of mould exposure may have some influence upon the gut microbiome and therefore our gut health," Plaza explains.

She adds that this is due to a connection between the gut and the lung, aptly called the gut-lung axis.

Mould on wall
Inhaling mould spores can exacerbate lung diseases. (Getty Images)

"Although not completely understood at the moment, there is a possibility that microbial fragments and compounds from the lung can exert their effect in the gut, this is because of the communication between these organs, using immune markers," Plaza continues. "So our gut microbiome not only affects other body systems, but it can also be influenced by them too – a sort of cross-talk."

Signs that a mouldy home is impacting your gut health

Some signs or symptoms that have been associated with damp homes include:

  • Upper and lower respiratory issues

  • The onset or exacerbation of asthma

  • Respiratory infections

  • Allergic rhinitis

  • Eczema

  • Bronchitis

"In fact, a large review noted that building dampness and mould are associated with an approximate increase of 30% to 50% in asthma and respiratory health outcomes," Plaza says.

"Other potential symptoms of mould may include fatigue, ‘brain fog’ and changes in mood, although there is more research to be done in this area."

While these diseases don’t sound like they are related to the digestive system – i.e. our gut health — Plaza says that due to the gut-lung axis, conditions in the lungs can lead to impacts on the gut microbiome.

How to improve gut health in a mouldy home

The good news is that recent evidence has suggested that our gut microbiota is capable of eliminating toxins, such as ingested mould spores, from the body – so long as our gut microbes are balanced.

Close up of woman eating Korean appetitizer Kimchi with Bibimbap in a restaurant
Kimchi can help to support gut health. (Yahoo Life UK)

"Consider supporting gut health with a variety of traditionally fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir," Plaza recommends. "Additionally, choosing a live bacteria supplement such as Bio-Kult Boosted, containing 14 strains of live bacteria along with vitamin B12, can help to support the normal function of the immune system.

"Adding in fermentable fibres, such as leeks, onion, garlic, slightly green bananas and Jerusalem artichoke could also support the diversity of the resident microbiota too."

Gut health: Read more