Toxic heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, copper, cadmium, lead, arsenic, nickel, chrome, alloy and steel are known to wreak havoc on the body. Symptoms and even chronic diseases related to heavy metal toxicity is now considered a problem that millions of people deal with (1).
As a result, increasing the consumption of heavy metal detox foods must follow suit. If not, disease and illness could easily creep up on any unsuspecting individuals.
Common Sources of Heavy Metals
As a result of heavy industrialization and a need to mass-produce food for the growing population, we’ve been increasingly exposed to many different heavy metals. We are exposed to heavy metals inside our homes, outside of our homes, in the food we eat and the air we breathe.
Heavy metals can be found in (2):
– Preservatives in treated wood (arsenic and copper)
– Household disinfectants (mercury, copper and silver)
– Cooking utensils, like pots, pans, knives, spoons and forks (aluminum, copper and lead)
– Paint (lead, mercury, cadmium, antimony)
– Insecticides, herbicides and fungicides (arsenic, antimony and cadmium)
– Rat poison (salt of thallium)
– Fish (mercury)
– Rice (arsenic)
– Cosmetics (mercury, lead)
– Hair dyes (mercury, lead)
– Tattoos (mercury)
– Floor waxes/polishes (mercury)
– Fabric softeners (mercury)
– Mercury amalgam fillings
– Chocolate (lead, cadmium)
– Gasoline (lead, cadmium)
– Tobacco smoke (lead, cadmium)
– Canned items (aluminum, lead)
– Baking powder (aluminum)
– Flour (aluminum)
– Deodorant (aluminum)
– Tap water (aluminum, cadmium)
– Stomach antacids (aluminum)
– Toothpaste (aluminum)
– Aluminum foil
– Lead-containing plumbing
– Laxatives (aluminum)
– Vaccinations (aluminum, mercury)
– Air pollution (diesel exhaust, coal-burning plants, steel and metal foundries, fertilizer companies)
As you can see, heavy metals are in just about everything. They are increasingly harder to avoid, given their wide-spread use.
Health Effects of Heavy Metal Exposure
Heavy metals take a toll everywhere in the body. They target the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, lungs, kidneys, liver, endocrine glands and bones.
Certain people are more at risk of heavy metal exposure depending on where they live, their occupation, and their lifestyle. Others can be genetically predisposed to heavy metal accumulation due to poor detoxification systems in their body (3). As a result, people in the same household may have different rates of heavy metal accumulation in their bodies.
Researchers have found that significant exposure to at least 23 different environmental metals (aka. “heavy metals”) can contribute to acute or chronic toxicity. They’re described as “heavy,” because they stick around in the body and burrow in adipose tissue (fat cells). They’re difficult to get rid of, and for this reason, detoxing heavy metals can be a long and tedious process.
Some of the most common warning signs that you may be suffering from heavy metals include (4):
– Chronic fatigue
– Autoimmune diseases (like Lyme’s disease)
– Poor exercise recovery and general weakness
– Skin irritation
– Neurological disorders
– Brain-fog and trouble concentrating
– Depression, manic depression and/or anxiety
– Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
– Digestive issues (like irritable bowel syndrome)
– Chronic inflammation associated with aches and pains in the body (fibromyalgia)
– Impaired motor control, hearing, speech, vision and gait
High levels of metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic have been linked to a decreased number and activity of white blood cells – limiting resistance to viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites (5).
Heavy Metal Detoxification
If you believe you’ve had major exposure to heavy metals, I would definitely suggest seeking out medical testing for metal poisoning. Naturopaths and integrative practitioners do this sort of testing. Heavy metal testing, in the form of hair analysis, urine analysis or a blood test can now be used for confirming suspected toxicity.
If you are a human being living on planet Earth, and you don’t think you have heavy metals in your body – think again. We all have heavy metals, and detoxing them is a constant process we must partake to keep them at levels that are not harmful.
The primary goal of heavy metal detox is to remove accumulated heavy metals from your brain and nervous system, cardiovascular system, kidneys, liver, lymphatic system and respiratory system.
Heavy metals are removed from the body in a process called chelation. While chelation therapy is a medical procedure that involves administration of chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body, it can also be done at home by more natural means. Chelating agents bind to heavy metals, and allow them to be dissolved and excreted in the urine.
There are many heavy metal detox foods that act similar to chelating agents by breaking the metals down into smaller molecules so they can be excreted via our urine, faeces, sweat and breath.
8 Heavy Metal Detox Foods To Start Eating Today
Whether you’re experiencing any heavy metal-related symptoms or simply want to prevent them in the first place, incorporating these heavy metal detox foods into your diet would be wise. There are 8 critical foods that you can consume daily to pull the heavy metals out. These are outlined below.
Chlorella is a type of green algae that acts as a natural chelator to remove heavy metals, especially lead and mercury. It is an excellent source of chlorophyll, which absorbs heavy metals very readily. Chlorella also contains various proteins and peptides, which are designed to bind to heavy metals and carry them out of the body.
Spirulina is another type of blue-green algae that draws out heavy metals from your brain, central nervous system and liver. It has the ability to naturally chelate (break down) and remove radioactive isotopes and heavy metals from our body. Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2011, found that phycocyanins in spirulina protect unborn babies from being damaged by cadmium exposure (6). Another study found that spirulina reduced urine radioactivity levels by 50% in only 20 days (7).
Cilantro is known for its heavy metal detoxification benefits. It goes deep into hard to reach places and extracts metals that have been lingering around in your body since birth! Cilantro has an affinity for mercury and lead, so if you have any mercury fillings, make sure you eat this herb on the daily.
4. Wild Blueberries
Wild blueberries possess unique phytonutrients with special heavy metal detoxifying capabilities. These berries help draw out heavy metals from your brain tissue, and help heal and repair any gaps created by oxidation when the metals are removed. In the case of Alzheimer’s and dementia, wild blueberries are one of the best foods for reversing these states. Always opt for wild blueberries if given the choice. Cultivated varieties do not have as many beneficial effects.
5. Bentonite Clay
Clay acts like a sponge (or magnet), making it incredibly useful in ridding the body of toxic heavy metals. Bentonite clay, by nature, is poly-cationic, meaning it absorbs toxins that are negatively charged. While clay is meant for topical use only, there are some high-quality, organic clays that can be used internally. You need to be very careful when going about doing this, and it is always advised to contact the manufacturer and ask if it is safe to consume the clay you are thinking about utilizing.
6. Atlantic Dulse
This edible seaweed is a wonderful chelating agent for lead, aluminum, mercury, copper, cadmium and nickel. It scavenges the digestive tract, looking for heavy metals and binds to them, never releasing them until they leave the body. Make sure your dulse is from the Atlantic ocean, as the Pacific ocean is tainted by radioactive compounds that will only make heavy metal poisoning worse.
7. Activated Charcoal
This substance is a treatment that can be used to eliminate metals and toxins via adsorption (the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface). Activated charcoal is very porous, and has a negative electric charge that causes positively charged toxins and gas to bond with it. It is so powerful, that it even used as an emergency treatment for removing poisons from the body very fast (8). Make sure you get activated charcoal that is made from coconut shells, or identified wood species that have ultra-fine grains.
8. Barley Grass Juice Extract Powder (BGJP)
Barley grass juice powder is another great supplement for ridding the body of mercury. BGJP actually prepares mercury for complete absorption by spirulina, so taking these two at the same time is an incredibly powerful combination.
With heavy metal detoxing, you may notice some symptoms getting worse, before they get better.
Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie
If you want to quickly consume a mixture of these foods in one shot, make the recipe below! Just a warning, however. This smoothie is highly detoxing, and some people may experience intense symptoms. Go slow with the smoothie, and if it is too much, cut the recipe in half, or drink a portion in the morning, and a portion at night.
Ingredients: (serves 1)
– 2 bananas
– 3 medjool dates
– 1 cup cilantro
– 2 cups wild blueberries
– 1 tbsp. dulse
– 1 tbsp. barley grass juice powder
– 1 tsp. spirulina
– 1 tsp. chlorella
– 1 cup coconut water or regular filtered water
– optional: 1 cup mango, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. ginger
Put all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!