Today’s Mold Talks guest is Brendan Vermeire, a mental and metabolic health scientist, researcher, educator, author, and speaker. He is also a board-certified holistic health practitioner, master nutrition coach, master personal trainer, USAW Sports performance coach, and Crossfit trainer. Brendan’s journey with mold began years ago after moving into a water-damaged house and later being introduced to the concept of mold illness.
For years, Brendan dealt with the back and forth in the medical world while trying to find a healing solution for his fiance at the time. While he’s still unsure as to whether or not mold caused her debilitating chronic illness, the experience was his first brush with functional medicine, environmental factors, and finding the root cause of illness. Since that initial realization, he dove into functional medicine, particularly focusing on how impactful environmental factors like mold can be on mental health.
His passion in the field led to a career helping chronically ill individuals, the creation of a wide range of informative materials, a nonprofit dedicated to research and education, and a plethora of case studies aimed at pushing the envelope forward for healthier living for all, among other inspirational feats.
"My whole journey with mold is kind of crazy because a lot of people do consider me to be one of the leading experts on mold and mold illness using a functional medicine approach, which I'm still trying to figure out like, how did that ever happen? How did a guy with a fitness and nutrition background get to the point where mold has become a huge, huge part of my career path and business models?"
Brendan’s brush with mold, he believes, began after moving into a water-damaged home with his fiancé at the time and her three children. At the time, he knew nothing about mold illness and was at a loss when her health began to take a turn for the worse. Over time, her debilitating symptoms started to interfere with everyday life, spurring them to attempt to seek medical help to figure out what was wrong.
As it normally goes with mold illness, no medical professional was able to figure it out. While she mentioned mold exposure as a possible option, no one took the time to dig into whether or not this could be the culprit. Looking back, Brendan said that her condition was the picture-perfect definition of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. They tried meeting with a naturopathic specialist, but unfortunately, like many others, they couldn’t afford the expensive out-of-pocket cost for the visit. Eventually, as time went on, they decided to part ways and live separate lives. Sadly, his ex-fiancé would lose her battle with life sometime later.
"We really went through hell. And I want to be very honest and transparent. I still to this day do not know if it was mold. Trying to save her is what got me into functional medicine, but it wasn't even until two years later that I got exposed to the concept of mold illness. When I did, I latched on to it because I was like, that has to be it. But I never got the opportunity to confirm because she and I went our separate ways, and unfortunately, she chose to take her life in August of 2020. So she's not even here anymore. But you know, that whole thing runs deep with me. There was never any real closure, but I do believe that mold was a contributing factor based on the water damage to the home."
From a young age, Brendan was a huge fitness enthusiast and incredibly passionate about health. The entire experience, though, is what pushed him to become a leader in the functional medicine realm, particularly when it comes to mold. As his passion for the subject grew, he continued to dive in and research the topic and realized the massive hole in awareness, treatment, and research for chronic illness triggered by environmental factors like mold.
Using his background in fitness as a guide, he started to craft a treatment process that focuses both on the environmental and lifestyle aspects of healing. Taking a look at the whole picture, he believes that by taking control of both of those aspects, one can focus on healing and live a healthy life. It’s up to them, though, to jump in with two feet and make the changes that will allow their bodies to heal.
Over the past few years, he’s used his dedication to continue researching the complexities of mold illness and figuring out exactly what’s going on within someone’s body so that he can assist them in getting back into balance. At the end of the day, his ultimate goal is to help create a more streamlined process so that those suffering from chronic illness don’t continue to bleed money as they go through doctor after doctor and protocol after protocol. Continuing to create case studies and delving into the complexities of the body thus far has resulted in a range of successful strategies that have helped countless clients thus far. Now he’s working on sharing his information with others so that they too can help those suffering from chronic illness.
"With my practitioner students, when I'm training them and mentoring them on how to be good practitioners, I make a big point that we have to be able to distinguish between clinical theory and what's clinically applicable. Because there's no room for theory when you're trying to help a desperate person improve their health. We have to stay grounded in what actually works and what we can do. Are we moving the needle? And we have to be objective about it. So, I think if people are pulling you down these theoretical rabbit holes, rather than empowering you with like, ‘Hey, we're not entirely sure about this, but here's all the stuff that we do know that's tried and it's true. Here's what we can focus on to help you right here, right now.’"
For anyone suffering from chronic illness, Brendan recommends ensuring first and foremost that their mindset is in the right place.
"Get the mindset in a place where you're accepting responsibility for the position you're in. At the end of the day, we have this choice. You can choose to be a victim or you can choose to be a victor. It's one or the other. There's no in the middle there. You either victimize yourself and adopt a victim mentality, which keeps you stuck forever, or you rise above."