Is your home making you ill?

Do you suffer from unexplained fatigue, allergies, headaches or reproductive issues? Do you have trouble sleeping, struggle with depression or anxiety, have breathing or digestive problems that are unresolved by medication?

Your home or workplace could be the problem. And there are simple ways to fix it.

Mould and chronic illness

Considering how prone Portuguese houses are to damp and mould, it is surprising how few people are aware of the dangers of living in a mouldy environment.

In fact, as many as one in three people have a genetic predisposition to mould toxicity. This means that mould affects the immune system, causing widespread inflammation and leading to chronic illnesses that do not respond to standard medical treatment.

For example, mould is one of the most common causes of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), an autoimmune disease that causes brain fog, memory loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling and pain.

Radio frequencies and electromagnetic fields

Wireless routers, mobile phones and electricity cables all affect our melatonin levels – the most important sleep hormone and natural anti-inflammatory we have in our bodies.

Even more frightening is that using technology actually increases the permeability of the “blood-brain barrier”, giving chemicals circulating in the blood a free ticket to the brain.

Chemicals in the home

There are 113 million chemicals registered for use, and every 20 seconds another one is added to the global database. Most of these chemicals have never been tested in humans.

Chemicals like bisphenol-A (in plastics), perchlorate (in tap water) and phthalates (in perfumes) disturb hormone production and are known to contribute to diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancer, as well as thyroid and reproductive problems.

What to do about it?  

We can’t avoid these toxicants completely, but we can reduce our exposure by taking the following precautions.

  1. Don’t reach for the Dettol! Keep the windows open, use the sun to air bedding, and clean areas of mould with vinegar and a microfibre cloth (if mould damage is extensive, consider getting a building biologist to test your home and advise you further).
  2. Make sure your Wi-Fi and gadgets are turned off before bed, and limit screen time for children.
  3. Store food and drinks in jars or stainless steel instead of plastic. Plastic degrades at room temperature as well as with heating or freezing.
  4. Always read the label – if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it, drink it, wear it or spray it in your home!

Increasing your resilience

As well as limiting exposure, there are natural ways to increase your resilience to environmental toxins. Herbs like milk thistle, rosemary, turmeric and dandelion root can be taken to improve liver detoxification and digestive function, while immune-supporting herbs like Echinacea also help boost resilience.

Eating a good diet with plenty of organic fruit & vegetables also minimises exposure to pesticides whilst providing lots of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytochemicals. Another reason to eat your greens, reds, blues, and yellows – and lots of them!

Check out the latest edition of the Algarve Resident for the print version of this article.

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