Some metals are necessary as these are minerals our body needs. Most heavy metals are toxic and cause cancer, thyroid problems, learning disabilities, neurological problems, hormone imbalances, and many other health problems. Heavy metals are found in the foods we eat, the air we breathe, in buildings, clothes, machinery, tap water, dental fillings and cooking utensils, just to name a few.
Over half the US population have too much heavy metals in their bodies. These metals include aluminum, mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium. High levels of aluminum affect the nervous system, liver and kidneys. Studies suggest that an accumulation of aluminum may cause hyperactivity in children, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia in older people. Food and water may be contaminated when cooked in aluminum utensils. Aluminum can also be found in deodorants, antacids and coffee whiteners. Mercury toxicity stems from dental amalgams, fish and shellfish from polluted waters, paper-making factories, and tap water. Mercury can damage the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands. High levels of lead stored in body tissues can be fatal. Lead is found in old painted, lead pipes, lead-glazed earthenware that's cracked or damaged, bone meal, tobacco, traffic fumes, unlined saucepans, and fruits and vegetables exposed to toxic fumes from moving vehicles. Symptoms of lead poisoning include behavior problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, anemia, and damage to the heart and brain. lead also displaces calcium in the body. Arsenic is found in shellfish, ceramics, insecticides, and wallpaper. Large doses are fatal. Cadmium is found on or near industrial areas, cigarette smoke, old plaster, and in rubber products. Too much cadmium replaces the mineral zinc in the body tissues, affecting the kidneys and causing high blood pressure.
Since heavy metals are not metabolized by the body but accumulated in the tissues, essential nutrients cannot be absorbed. The heavy metals then provoke chronic inflammation and a breakdown in the immune system which can lead to chronic diseases such as arthritis and cancer. Common symptoms of heavy metal toxicity include depression, headaches, digestive problems, high blood pressure, fatigue, muscle pain, brain fog, constipation and hormonal imbalances.
Some health care professional recommend chelation therapy to remove heavy metals from the body. This type of therapy uses a synthetic amino acid EDTA, that may be injected into the bloodstream, or an oral chelate may be used instead. The American Heart Association and other scientific organizations have spoken out against this type of treatment. When considering a heavy metal detox program, it's important to check out all options first. All dental amalgam fillings should be removed by a qualified dentist who specializes in doing it properly. Drink plenty of purified water, use only natural deodorants and cosmetics, avoid antacids and cigarette smoking, and replace aluminum cookware with stainless steel. Detox often if exposed to roofing materials, or if you work or live next to a gas station, or any place that emits or handles dangerous toxic chemicals.
Safe and effective methods of eliminating heavy metals can be found at any health food store:
Cilantro - binds so the body can remove metals through the urine.
Apple pectin - binds and eliminates heavy metals.
Chlorella and algae - binds and removes toxins as well as replaces minerals and nutrients.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine - stimulates detoxification in the liver.
Milk Thistle - supports the liver and helps cleanse and detoxify.
Alpha Lipoic Acid - antioxidant.
Juicing with fresh fruits and vegetables is another way of ridding the body of unwanted toxins and heavy metals. Beneficial juices include carrots, beets, kale, spinach, garlic, wheat grass, barley grass, parsley, and cilantro. Other choices are fruits such as grapes, cherries, grapefruit, blueberries, and lemons. Juicing not only supplies the body with massive amounts of nutrition, but it flushes and cleanses all the organs, balances metabolism, and aids in effective enzyme activity. It is very important to use only organic fruits and vegetables which are free of insecticides, pesticides and chemicals. Additional fiber should be added such as psyllium and steel cut oats. Make sure you drink plenty of distilled water to flush out all the toxic substances.
Patricia is a nutrition consultant at a major health food store. She also writes articles on alternative health, nutrition and herbal remedies for several newsletters.