But there are certain poisons that we are in contact with every single day (many are INSIDE of us) that we have no idea are toxic at all!
And they’re nothing to take lightly. These poisonous substances can affect your brain, nervous system, bones, teeth, internal organs, joints and immune system, among other things.
I’m talking about heavy metals.
Here’s what you probably don’t know, but must know, about heavy metals, what they can do to you, and what you can do to minimize their harmful effects.
The heavy metals
The main “offenders” than we are exposed to that can cause health problems are aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic.
They are much more prevalent in our atmosphere today than they were even a few decades ago because we unearth them with mining operations that we conduct to supply the metals that we use for building construction.
Let’s take a look at where you are exposed to each of them, and what they can potentially do to you:
Found in: Cookware, food, beer and soda cans, aluminum foil, antacids, baking powder, anti-perspirants, margarine, buffered aspirin and bleached white flour.
- Aluminum is harmful to your nervous system with symptoms that can include disturbed sleep, nervousness, emotional instability, memory loss, headaches, and impaired thinking and memory.
- It can impair your body’s ability to use calcium and phosphorus. This prevents bone growth and reduces bone density.
- Aluminum can also cause conditions which actually force calcium out of your bones.
- Toxicity can also result in aching muscles, speech problems, anemia, digestive problems, lowered liver function, colic and impaired kidney function.
- Aluminum binds with brain cells and is associated with the plaques found in Alzheimer’s
Found in: Dental amalgam fillings, fungicides and pesticides, cosmetics, tattoo dyes, flu shots, laxatives, paper products, home thermometers and fish (especially shark, swordfish, tuna, mackerel and sea bass).
- Mercury causes damage to your cells and their functions. This damage can be drastic and eventually lead to failure of organ systems such as the lungs, kidneys and especially your brain and nervous system.
- Excess mercury exposure can cause mental dysfunction, fatigue, poor memory, decreased senses of touch, hearing and vision, depression, neurological and muscular disorders, kidney and gastrointestinal problems, infertility and heart disease.
- Effects can include coma and death in some cases.
- Mercury acts as an immunosuppressant in the body, weakening your immune system and encouraging the development of autoimmune conditions.
Found in: Pipes, paints, gasoline, glassware, roadways, cosmetics, hair dyes, newspaper print and in the glazes used in ceramics.
- Lead competes with and inactivates many important minerals, particularly zinc and iron, and displaces calcium from your bones, making you susceptible to mineral deficiency conditions.
- In children, too much lead in the body can cause lasting problems with growth and development. These can affect behavior, hearing and learning and can slow the child’s growth.
- In adults, lead poisoning can damage the brain and nervous system, the stomach, kidneys, thyroid and liver. It can also cause high blood pressure and other health problems.
Found in: The biggest source of cadmium is cigarette smoke. Whether you actually smoke or not is irrelevant–we all breathe air contaminated with cigarette smoke, but obviously smokers are getting far more cadmium than non-smokers.
Cadmium is also released when coal is burned and is found in many plastics, batteries, certain fertilizers and paints. It has also been found in soda and processed foods.
- Cadmium and cadmium compounds were upgraded in the year 2000 by the US government to the status of “known human carcinogens,” with an increased risk of lung cancers in workers exposed to cadmium.
- Cadmium accumulates in your kidneys and compromises your liver’s ability to produce detoxifying enzymes.
- Cadmium also encourages the development of free radicals which can lead to inflammation and disease, as well as premature aging.
Found in: Pressure treated wood that is commonly used in children’s swing sets and home decks. Arsenic is also in pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, some shellfish, and in certain calcium supplements made from sea shells.
- Arsenic has been associated with skin cancer, as well as lung, bladder, liver, colon, and kidney cancers.
- Very high exposure to arsenic can cause significant effects to skin and nails, including skin changes that resemble warts, called “hyperkeratosis.”
- Arsenic is harmful to the nervous system and can cause tremors, headaches and numbness.
- Other health effects may include blood vessel damage, high blood pressure, anemia, stomach upsets and liver damage.
What you can do
Clearly, heavy metals are all around us and it’s next to impossible to avoid them 100 percent.
But there are some very important measures you can take to help reduce your exposure to them as well as help counteract their harmful effects on you:
1) Do the avoid-dance
Try to limit your exposure to known sources of heavy metals as much as possible. Here are some ideas:
First and foremost, if you smoke, please quit,
Avoid using aluminum cookware and bakeware—stick to stainless steel or cast iron instead.
Request that your dentist use composite materials in any fillings instead of silver amalgam. And if you have a lot of amalgam fillings in your mouth now, consider having them removed and replaced with composites.
2) Have your levels tested
Ask your doctor to do a urine heavy metals test. It simply involves collecting your urine for a period of time (usually 6 hours), then submitting a sample and having it analyzed.
3) Consider chelation therapy
Chelation therapy helps clear heavy metals from your body. It can be done by an IV or with oral chelators.
4) Have a healthy diet of real foods and efficient digestion
The vitamins and minerals found in real foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs and healthy fats are essential for your body to be able to rid itself of heavy metals.
When your nutrient levels are low, heavy metals have much greater access to your cells and can even “lock out” your nutrients as they start on their path of damage and disease.
Plus adequate fiber is crucial. Fiber binds to heavy metals and helps sweep them out of your body with your bowel movements.
5) Consider probiotic supplementation
Probiotics help the digestive process, support your gut wall and encourage regular bowel movements–which are all vital to eliminating heavy metals.
Plus probiotics can help counteract any effects that heavy metals may have already had on your immune system.
Heavy metals are all around us, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely defenseless against them and their harmful effects.
Now you know how to avoid them and give your body the help it needs to counteract and eliminate these deadly poisons.
About the author
Sherry Brescia, MSHN holds a Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition, she is the author of two books (Great Taste No Pain and Great Taste No Gluten) and lectures at health conferences around the country regarding the effectiveness of the dietary science of food combining. She is also a former IBS sufferer who completely eliminated her condition through her diet.Her company Holistic Blends, Inc. (www.holisticblends.com) offers nutritional guidance and supplements to help people attain their health goals.