Heavy metals pose a serious risk to our health. While we require some heavy metals, such as zinc and copper, in trace amounts, others, such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury are absolutely of no use to us. Presence of heavy metals in high amounts in the body can lead to severe health conditions, including heavy metal poisoning, breathing problems, and cancer.
Heavy metals enter our body through water, food, skin, and air. In today’s toxic environment, it is almost impossible to avoid exposure to them. However, we can easily purge toxic heavy metals from our body by eating foods that promote heavy metal detoxification.
Before we look at foods that promote metal detoxification, let us discuss why heavy metals are dangerous and specific health risks associated with certain heavy metals.
Why heavy metals are dangerous to human health?
Our body is not able to expel toxic heavy metals quickly. As they accumulate at a rate faster than they are removed, over a period, their level in our body crosses the critical limit. This, in turn, can cause various health conditions to manifest.
Health risks associated with some heavy metals
- Arsenic – High exposure to arsenic can cause vomiting, anorexia, muscle cramps, burning of throat and mouth, and diarrhea. High level of arsenic in the body is also linked to cancers of the liver, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, and the skin.
- Mercury – One of the most toxic heavy metal, mercury is linked to autism in children and Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS for short), psychosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS for short) in adults.
- Lead – Lead, when present in high amounts, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, severe kidney impairment, memory problems, and fatigue. In addition, lead toxicity can cause constipation, weight loss, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal disturbances, liver impairment, and cramps.
- Cadmium – Long-term exposure to cadmium is associated with obstructive lung disease and renal dysfunction.
- Copper – An essential substance, copper, when present in amounts greater than recommended, can cause damage to the liver and the kidneys.
- Selenium – Selenium toxicity can cause severe damage to circulatory tissue and the nervous system.
Foods that aids removal of heavy metals
There are many foods that help detoxify and eliminate heavy metals. Let us take a look at 7 best foods:
- Pectin-rich fruits and vegetables – A soluble fiber present in various fruits and vegetables, pectin is an extremely effecting chelating agent. In a clinical trial, results of which were published in the Alternate Therapies in Health and Medicine journal in 2008, children with high levels of lead in their body were given pectin supplements. The researchers noted that pectin increased the amount of lead expelled through the urine by as much as 132 percent. Foods that are rich in pectin include pears, green apples, citrus fruits, cabbage, grapes, beets, and carrots.
- Garlic – According to a study, garlic is an excellent detoxifying agent. In the study, animals with extremely high amounts cadmium and mercury in their body were administered garlic. The efficacy of garlic in removing heaving metals was found to be comparable to standard prescription drugs.
- Cilantro – Cilantro, also known as Coriander or Chinese parsley, is excellent at removing heavy metals like lead, aluminum, and mercury from the body. According to a report published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Science, this food may aid in removal of mercury from the central nervous system. Fresh cilantro is believed to be more effective in purging heavy metals from the body than dried cilantro.
- Foods rich in amino acids – Amino acids are natural chelating agents and, as such, are beneficial to anyone who has high levels of heavy metals in the body. Vegetarian sources of amino acids include, among others, the following: corn, whole grains, oatmeal, spinach, carrots, turnips, papayas, plums, grapes, and pomegranates.
- Sulfur-rich foods – For removal of lead and other heavy metals, health experts recommend sulfur-rich foods such as onions, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Garlic, a very effective chelating agent as shown above, is also a sulfur-rich food.
- Foods containing alpha lipoic acid – Produced naturally in our body, alpha lipoic acid is found in small amounts in foods like peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, and rice bran. Alpha lipoic acid, experts believe, can cross the blood brain barrier and remove heavy metals present in the brain.
- Burdock root – Known mainly for its anti-fungal, anti-tumor, and antibacterial properties, burdock aids heavy metal detoxification by removing mercury and other heavy metals from the body.
You should consider adding all of these foods in your diet. On the other hand, certain foods, such as processed foods and artificial sweeteners, increase the risk of metal toxicity and so you should avoid them.
To sum it up, metal toxicity is linked to many health conditions, most of them quite severe. The good news, however, is that choosing the right foods obviates this risk. So, eat right and stay healthy.