Small amounts of metal like iron and zinc are helpful for your body. However, in excess amounts, heavy metals can be harmful to the human body. Heavy metals like lead, aluminum, and mercury accumulate in our bodies over time due to the prevalence of industrial, sewage, and agricultural waste, which in turn pollute the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. These metals can have serious implications on our health, including headaches and organ damage. Other conditions linked to heavy metals in our bodies include cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Luckily, you can remove these toxins from your body through detoxification.
Warning Signs That Your Body Needs Cleansing from Heavy Metals
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms below, your body may be up for a detox:
• Bad breath
• Stomach indigestion, gas, and bloating
• Insomnia, sleep disorders
• Hot flashes
• Heart palpitations, heart-pounding
• Poor memory
• Mood swings
• Outbursts of anger
• Dry, itchy skin
• Difficulty concentrating, low libido
• Excessive mucus secretion
• Excessive sweating
How Heavy Metals Get into Your Body
Human activity is directly responsible for releasing heavy metals into the environment. Things like fertilizers, pesticides, landfills, mining, and wastewater find their way into food, air, and water. Heavy metals can also be released into the environment naturally through volcanic activity and large fires. You can also ingest heavy metals when you eat canned foods, use Teflon pans, or get vaccinated. The most toxic heavy metals include:
- Mercury (Hg)
- Lead (Pb)
- Cadmium (Cd)
- Nickel (Ni)
- Copper (Cu)
- Cobalt (Co)
- Arsenic (As)
What Is a Heavy Metal Detox?
Heavy metal detox is the use of certain substances to facilitate the removal of excess heavy metals from the body. There are different processes used to achieve this. One of these processes, chelation, involves using specific chelators, a substance that binds to heavy metals, and then transports them out of the body. Certain foods are also known to help remove heavy metals from the body.
Is Heavy Metal Detox Safe?
Generally, the implications of a heavy metal detox will vary from one individual to another. In chelation, doctors use drugs like penicillamine or dimercaprol, that bind to metals and then carry them out of the body. This process can help prevent life-threatening complications. According to studies, heavy metal detox can also help prevent a variety of chronic conditions, including kidney, neurological, and cardiovascular conditions. However, there are certain risks associated with heavy metal detoxes. Experts suggest that using chelation as a heavy metal detox should only be carried out in extreme cases of heavy metal poisoning. Otherwise, this practice can be dangerous and even fatal. Some of the side effects of chelation include:
- A drop in blood pressure
- Permanent kidney damage
- A drop in calcium levels, which can be life-threatening
You can opt to gradually reduce the levels of heavy metals in your body by making certain lifestyle and dietary changes. According to health experts, the following foods can be effective in the removal of heavy metals from the body:
- Anti-inflammatory foods help to down-regulate inflammatory pathways activated by heavy metals. Some of the foods to consider here include fatty fish and seafood due to the high supply of omega-3.
- Antioxidants. Heavy metals cause oxidative stress and inflammation and using anti-oxidants can help reverse these effects. A diet rich in antioxidant foods will neutralize free radicals in the body and prevent oxidative stress. Such foods include green tea, berries, dark chocolate, and espresso.
- Cysteine-rich foods. Cysteine is a sulfur-based amino acid that acts as a precursor for metallothionein, a protein that binds to heavy metals in the detoxification process. Such foods can help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Examples of foods rich in cysteine are oats, whole egg fried, spirulina, and ground beef (97 percent lean).
- Natural chelators. Foods containing high amounts of flavonoids can help detoxify heavy metals since they act as natural chelators. The flavonoids bind to heavy metals, forming benign chelate complexes that prevent free radicals from forming. Some foods with high flavonoid content include wild blueberries, green tea, oregano, and Fuji apple.
It’s important to note that more evidence is required to conclude these foods can actually help in the detoxification of heavy metals. While chelation can be an effective program in treating heavy metal poisoning, it can cause more harm than good in certain circumstances. Using alternatives like food is safer than chelation therapy since you benefit from the intake of such foods. Certain supplements have also been found to work in heavy metal detoxification. However, be sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
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