Heavy metal toxicity—from metals such as mercury, aluminum, copper, cadmium, nickel, arsenic, and lead—represents one of the greatest threats to our health and well-being.” ~ Anthony William, author of Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal
Heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury, can be very toxic. Regardless of this risk, they are commonly used in industrial, agricultural, medical and technology applications. As a result, they have become one of the many substances polluting our environment and threatening human health.
How Heavy Metals Affect the Human Body
Most people are exposed to heavy metals throughout their lives. For many, this exposure happens on a daily basis. Subsequently, these heavy metals bioaccumulate deep inside the body’s tissues and pose a significant threat to your health long-term. They put immense stress on the human body, slowly poisoning the body, damaging organs, and weakening the immune system.
Many scientific studies have shown that toxic heavy metals such as arsenic increase our risks of both carcinogenic and systemic health effects. A study titled Heavy Metals Toxicity and the Environment, conducted at Jackson State University, Mississippi, states:
A comprehensive analysis of published data indicates that heavy metals such as arsenic cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury, occur naturally. However, anthropogenic activities contribute significantly to environmental contamination. These metals are systemic toxicants known to induce adverse health effects in humans, including cardiovascular diseases, developmental abnormalities, neurologic and neurobehavioral disorders, diabetes, hearing loss, hematologic and immunologic disorders, and various types of cancer.
Heavy Metals are Present in Water and Food
It would seem that with this information publicly available, our exposure to these dangerous metals would be limited. Such is not the case. These metals are present in our environment, including drinking water and foods. For example, the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization environmental watchdog, recently released a studythat showed that almost 50,000 public water systems in the U.S. are contaminated with dozens of harmful chemicals. These included heavy metals arsenic, chromium, barium, and uranium.
Toxic elements such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead, sometimes called heavy metals, can diminish mental and central nervous system function; elicit damage to blood composition as well as the kidneys, lungs, and liver; and reduce energy levels. Food is considered one of the main routes of their entry into the human body.
Helping the Body Eliminate Heavy Metals
Let’s face it: we’re all exposed to heavy metals. Even if you’re feeling healthy, you probably have heavy metals burrowed deep inside your tissues. Therefore, it is important to undergo a process of cleansing the body of these dangerous substances. This can be done quite easily and inexpensively with certain supplements and foods.
Foods that help the body eliminate heavy metals are a safe and effective way to proactively protect the body from the effects of long-term exposure. Through the process of chelation, certain foods attract and bond with metals, allowing the body to expel them as waste.
A typical process of removing heavy metals from the body will take about 2-3 months. During this term, it is best to eat as many chelating foods as possible. You can also choose to take a daily supplement, such as activated charcoal or chlorella, both discussed below.
In addition, remember to drink plenty of water, about 6-8 glasses per day, to help the body’s elimination process. Finally, consider eating extra clean during this time. This means choosing organics when possible, limiting ingestion of contaminated foods such as fish, and reducing processed foods and sugars.
Foods to Eat During Heavy Metal Detox
The following foods are capable of reducing heavy metals toxicity in the body.
Ginger is one of the healthiest plants on Earth. In addition to improving digestion and reducing inflammation in the body, ginger root supports kidney function. The kidneys play an important role in the body’s elimination process and are often one of the first targets of heavy metals toxicity, so they need ginger’s extra power boost.
Organic Ginger Root Supplement by Solaray
Ginger Root Powder Organic by Starwest Botanicals
2. Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruits, especially lemons and limes, are high in citric acid. Studies have shown that foods high in citric acid have the ability to seize metal atoms, such as mercury, cadmium and lead, from contaminated foods. Thus, it is beneficial to eat these citrus fruits during a heavy metal detox, especially in combination with foods that are typically contaminated, such as fish.
In addition, researchers have found the citrus pectin can help the body eliminate heavy metals. Citrus pectin is a complex carbohydrate that is abundantly present in the inner peel of citrus fruits. In a study on Chinese children, the study demonstrated that modified citrus pectin increases the urinary excretion of toxic lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium.
Modified Citrus Pectin Capsules by EcoNugenics
Food Grade Citric Acid Powder by Wholesale Health Connection
Citric Acid Supplement Capsules by Dr. Clark Store
3. Probiotic Foods
Probiotic foods are high in lactic acid, which make these foods ideal for helping the body detox from heavy metals. Similarly to citric acid, lactic acid bonds with metal atoms and helps with heavy metal detox. According to researchers, the friendly gut bacteria Lactobacillus—which are found in our mouth and gut – have the ability to detoxify heavy metals.
Here are a few recipe if you want to make fermented vegetables at home. Taking a probiotic supplement is also an option.
Ther-Biotic Complete Vegetarian Capsules by Klaire Labs
Ther-Biotic Factor 1 (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) by Klaire Labs
4. Chlorella and Cilantro
Chlorella is a solid green-colored form of algae. Although it is a little harder to digest than spirulina, chlorella is known to be effective in removing heavy metals for just this reason. Chlorella’s cell walls are very tough and often cannot be fully digested, and it is these cell walls that bind to toxins in your body in order to eliminate them.
In addition to being a great chelator, chlorella also supplies many vital nutrients that the body needs to establish a healthier environment.
Holistic healthcare practitioners believe that a person undergoing a detoxification treatment using chlorella should also consume cilantro. Here’s an explanation of why this works from Dr. Mark McClure from National Integrated Health Associates:
To effectively remove the neurotoxin, they need to be effectively bound in the upper part of the small intestine, when the bile is secreted during digestion. Chlorella eaten with food or dosing chlorella 1 hour prior to a cilantro dose will bind the neurotoxin in the bile with the chlorella and carry it out in the feces. Cilantro causes the liver to release the bile. Cilantro is also an important source of organic selenium, a very important mineral in heavy metal detox.
The action of cilantro is quick (about 20 min). Cilantro mobilizes mercury and other neurotoxins from the cell membranes but does not chelate (or pull them out well). Therefore, an important detox strategy is to have chlorella on board at the time of mobilization (taking cilantro) to more effectively chelate the metals out.
Natural Chlorella Supplement by Nature Bound
Organic Chlorella Powder (Cracked Cell Walls) by Starwest Botanicals
Spirulina is an edible blue-green algae. It is known for its distinctive green color and strong odor. Spirulina can be effective in removing heavy metals from the nervous system and the liver, because it delivers a strong dose of folic acid. It also offers all eight of the essential amino acids, iron, B vitamins, selenium and manganese, resulting in strong therapeutic benefits.
Organic Spirulina Powder GMO-free by NuSci
Organic Spirulina 500mg Tablets by NOW Foods
6. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is a form of carbon, processed into a fine, black powder. It has no odor or taste, so you can drink it mixed with water or take a supplement.
It is safe to consume up to 20-30 grams of activated charcoal per day, probably split between two to three drinks throughout the day. The substance binds to pesticides and other toxins. It then ushers these toxins through the intestines, where the body can purge them. One downside of using activated charcoal is that it may leech other important minerals from the body. It is recommended that you consume molasses when using activated charcoal.
Activated Charcoal Capsules by Natures True Medicine
100% Pure Molasses Unsulfured, Organic by Plantation
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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