Coal mines and factories are not the only reservoirs of toxic environmental heavy metals – your body also makes the list.
Heavy metals and metalloids occur naturally in the earth’s crust. They turn into environmental contaminants through activities like smelting, mining, coal burning and other industrial, agricultural and domestic production and use.
Natural phenomena, such as volcanic eruptions and weathering, also cause heavy metal pollution.
They are potentially toxic to humans, animals and the environment at large.
Out of all heavy metals, exposure to lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic is particularly harmful to human health, according to a 2003 study published in the British Medical Bulletin.
The World Health Organization also lists the above-mentioned heavy metals among the top 10 most hazardous groups of chemicals to public health.
Heavy metals enter our bodies in three ways:
- Inhalation: The air we breathe is polluted with heavy metals due to human activities and natural phenomena. Motor vehicles also emit airborne heavy metals. People working in factories, mines, industrial areas, paper-processing plants and nuclear power stations are especially susceptible to airborne heavy metals.
- Ingestion: Eating animal and plant-based food products is the primary source of human heavy metal contamination. Consumer and industrial waste can also pollute sources of water, such as lakes, rivers and streams.
- Absorption: Coming in with contaminated air or soil are major ways of absorbing heavy metals. The eyes and skin absorb several airborne heavy metals every day.
Long-term exposure to heavy metals can prove carcinogenic over time, can severely damage the central nervous system and have fatal cardiovascular repercussions.
Prolonged exposure to:
- Chromium and cadmium can cause lung cancer.
- Lead can cause anemia, palsy and kidney disorders.
- Mercury can lead to stomatitis (gum and mouth inflammation), tremor and neurotic disorders.
- Arsenic can cause hypopigmentation, diabetes and skin cancer.
Heavy metal detoxification is vital to preserving your health and living a long life.
Here’s how you can naturally remove heavy metals from your body.
Note: Please bear in mind that heavy metal detoxification is a long process. While following the points in this article will significantly help the detoxification process, exposure to heavy metals is inevitable.
You will need to consciously take steps to limit (if not avoid altogether) your exposure to these heavy metals while following the above-mentioned advice for maximum benefit.
1. Drink Enough Water
Your body is made up of 65 percent water. This alone proves a deficiency of the same is likely to have adverse consequences.
Water is indispensable to better health. No amount of detoxification methods – diets or exercise – will have any positive effect on your body if you are continually dehydrated.
Dehydration is a major cause of oxidative stress, which hinders the body’s ability to fight cell-damaging free radicals.
When heavy metals enter our bodies, oxidative stress triggers their toxicity. Drinking plenty of water reduces oxidative stress and inhibits the toxicity of heavy metals in the body.
Furthermore, water transports essential nutrients and minerals throughout the body. These nutrients and minerals strengthen the detoxification organs – the liver, kidneys, intestines, respiratory tract and skin.
2. Eat Fermented Foods
The role of gastrointestinal bacteria, or probiotics, in eliminating heavy metals from the body is not widely known.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics.
Probiotics like lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus) found in the intestine and in fermented foods possess the ability to bind to heavy metals and flush them out of the body, according to a 2012 study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Out of 255 lactic acid bacteria isolated for testing purposes, 26 displayed remarkable cadmium- and lead-removing properties in water, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.
Fermented foods that contain this good bacteria include probiotic yogurt, whey, cottage cheese, kefir drinks, fermented tofu and tempeh as well as pickled cucumbers, radishes, beets and garlic.
Make them a part of your regular diet to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria to eliminate heavy metals from your body.