Heavy Metal Toxicity

Alisha Eskew

Heavy metal toxicity is more prevalent and destructive than one would think. Accumulation is a real danger to everyone today, especially with the continual usage of heavy metals in medical, agricultural, technological, and manufacturing applications. Even at low levels, heavy metals in the body can lead to problems with the nervous, hematopoietic, renal, and cardiovascular systems. Heavy metal toxicity is directly related with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says arsenic, lead, and mercury are the most threatening right now.

Arsenic and lead are used in manufacturing and pesticides, and they are also found in a lot of water sources. It’s even found in chicken, which can be supplemented with arsenic to hasten growth. Mercury is in amalgam cavity fillings for teeth.

Chronic low-level exposure of heavy metals leads to gradual onset of symptoms which make them hard to recognize and are often misdiagnosed as other illnesses such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autism. Symptoms of low level accumulation include headaches, malaise, low-grade pain, brain fog (confusion and forgetfulness), digestive problems, mood swings or disorders, and nervous system impairments such as tingling.

Although it can be overwhelming (and even impossible) to rid our lives of everything toxic all at once, whatever can be done to lessen the toxicity in your life is valuable.

A real, whole foods based diet containing organic and unprocessed foods rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants is a powerful combatant to detoxify and protect the body from replacing deficient metals with toxic heavy metals. Some fish contain high levels of mercury, and soy contains high levels of cadmium; be cognizant of the amount you are eating.

Ensuring adequate amounts of specific micronutrients is essential for healthy functioning of the body and efficient detoxification; these include glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and natural chelators (such as milk thistle and alpha-lipoic acid). Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants important for detoxifying and clearing the body of heavy metals. Foods in the broccoli family are high in glutathione. Another one of the body’s natural mechanisms to detox is through sweating. Plus, exercise increases effectiveness of other bodily functions.

After refining your diet, another step you can take is to clear your home of toxic kitchenware (plastics, non-stick cookware, and stainless steel), cleaning supplies, and cosmetics; these contain heavy metals and other chemicals that are harmful for human health. Replace kitchenware with iron, enamel, or glass, and start eating and drinking from only glass containers. To see if your cosmetics are toxic, check the EWG Skin Deep website which rates different products and their level of toxicity. Lastly, filter your water.

If you would like to definitively know the levels of heavy metals in your own body, there is testing available (i.e., hair analysis) through your doctor.


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