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Heavy metals are all around us. Food, medicine, skincare, cooking tools, etc. Even vaccines and dental fillings contain these sneaky substances. So, are heavy metals as dangerous as they sound? Should we be concerned about heavy metal toxicity? And, if so, what can we do about it? Here’s how to detox your body from heavy metals…
Here’s the deal: heavy metals can, in fact, be toxic to the body- especially in high amounts. They are of even more of a concern when autoimmunity is at play. That being said, it’s important to recognize the causes and symptoms of heavy metal accumulation in the body, so that you can naturally purge your body of these toxins. Truthfully, as long as they’re in your body, it will be fighting against them.
So, if heavy metals pose such a threat to optimal health, what can we do about it?
The four major metals that accumulate in the body and cause health problems are mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium. The FDA does monitor these in drinking water and food products, however frankly, coming in contact with them is inevitable. Even the most health-focused person will have some sort of accumulation, even if minor.
First, it’s necessary to recognize and identify the common sources of heavy metals. As mentioned, heavy metal exposure can happen almost anywhere, but these sources are the main culprits:
Naturally, some foods contain higher amounts of heavy metals than others. For example: predatory fish, like swordfish, shark, and bigeye tuna, contain high levels of mercury. Other foods with relatively high amounts of heavy metals include: protein powder, brown rice, and unfiltered water.
These foods often contain increased levels of mercury and lead, which are neurotoxins. It’s really important that if you do drink coffee and tea or eat healthy foods like dark chocolate and protein powder that you choose the right brands that are tested for metals.
On the other hand, some cooking tools and utensils can contribute to heavy metal toxicity. As much as possible, avoid teflon pans and spatulas that are covered with a nonstick coating. Instead, opt for ceramic, cast iron, or stainless steel.
Commonly used cosmetic products, including makeup, skincare, deodorant, and hair care, contain striking amounts of toxic metals, like lead, arsenic, and mercury. For this reason, I highly recommend all women (and men) switch to non-toxic beauty products.
Over the past several years, the negative consequences of amalgam fillings have become widely known. In the 80’s and 90’s amalgam fillings were the most common kind of dental treatment. As a result, most adults have one or more amalgam filling in their mouth. Luckily, today, you can find dental professionals all over the states who are willing to remove amalgam fillings and replace them with composite- a much safer option.
Sometimes, heavy metal toxicity can occur due to metal implants. If you fall into this category, it’s likely you need these structural metal parts. If so, I recommend working with a responsible practitioner who can help limit your exposure and detox your body from heavy metals.
While this list covers the most common sources of heavy metals, it’s important to also consider sources like: unfiltered drinking water, vaccines, toothpaste, OTC medicine, and more.
Common symptoms of heavy metal toxicity, include:
As you can see, heavy metals affect our health from head-to-toe. In the case of autoimmunity, exposure to heavy metals can trigger a flare-up. This is why treatment for autoimmune disease often includes the diagnosis and detoxification of heavy metals from the body.
Heavy metals and other toxins can actually damage mitochondrial membranes, making them unable to produce enough ATP and keep you energized. This is why fatigue is such a tell-tale sign of heavy metal toxicity.
In addition, heavy metals take a severe toll on gut health. According to a study on the ecotoxicology of the gut, “non-absorbed heavy metals have a direct impact on the gut microbiota. In turn, this may impact the alimentary tract and overall gut homeostasis.” Heavy metals literally change the structure of our gut microbiome. Yes, they’re that powerful. And, as we know, health starts in the gut. It’s no wonder heavy metals hit our health so hard.
The ability to change the structure of the gut microbiome is a pretty powerful thing. You may wonder, how do heavy metals have such an impact?
Heavy metals can actually alter certain bacteria strains in the gut microbiome— empowering some and destroying others. One study showed several types of bacteria respond in obvious ways to heavy metal exposure. For example, Lachnospiraceae and Erysipelotrichaceae, which are linked to intestinal inflammation, all increased. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory bacteria Roseburia, which affects colon motility and immunity maintenance, were presented in lower amounts. This means that heavy metals impact the ratio of beneficial to inflammatory bacteria, causing trouble with gut health and exacerbating GI symptoms.
Heavy metals can also irritate the gut lining. A large portion of the heavy metals we consume is through food and water. The only way for these toxic metals to make it out of our body is through the digestive tract, otherwise known as the gut. This irritates the gut lining and causes chronic inflammation, which leads to leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the gut is compromised leading to more food sensitivities, gut infections (since they can easily pass through the gut barrier), nutrient deficiencies, dysfunctions in the blood brain barrier, and inflammation.
Before treating heavy metal toxicity, I highly recommend getting tested by a functional practitioner. The Hair Mineral Analysis Test is my personal favorite for diagnosing heavy metal toxicity and imbalances in the body. Once diagnosis is confirmed, they are several safe and gentle methods of treatment:
Some whole foods naturally contain chelation and detoxification properties. Foods with chelation properties bind to and grab heavy metals and remove them from the body. Increasing your intake of these foods can help your body effectively excrete heavy metals. These powerful and potent foods include:
Smaller fish like anchovies and sardines contain less mercury and other toxins than larger fish. If you regularly eat fish, purchase those that have undergone third-party testing to ensure they are free of heavy metals. I do encourage my clients to eat wild caught salmon at least once a week because it is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Most of us have increased levels of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, which can result in a ratio that increases overall inflammation in the body. Salmon contains essential fatty acids necessary to reduce inflammation.
Fish is healthy and healing, but QUALITY matters! I recommend choosing a high quality brand that is sustainably harvested and wild caught. My favorite online delivery service for high quality seafood is Sizzlefish.
In addition to utilizing the power of whole foods, incorporating supplements can be effective, too. However, I recommend consulting with your practitioner before trying any new supplements, like the following:
Another supplement worth noting is the Toxin Removal System (TRS). The TRS spray is made of zeolite and is an extremely safe and effective method to remove heavy metals from the body. It can improve mental clarity, focus, anxiety, depression, and brain inflammation.
Chemicals and heavy metals found in common household cleaning products and beauty products can unfortunately create imbalances in the gut, affect allergies, and your immune system. This is why I promote non-toxic products wherever possible!
I’ve been switching over to green household cleaners over the past 10 years and I’ll never look back! I recommend making small changes over time. Transition your home cleaning and laundry care products little by little, and pretty soon you’ll be on your way to a chemical-free home! Read more about the chemicals I suggest avoiding and my FAVORITE non-toxic household cleaning products on the blog, here.
Although our tap water in the U.S. isn’t so terrible that it will make you instantly sick, it’s still traveled through metal pipelines, picking up contaminants along the way.
Quality is EVERYTHING when it comes to water! This is why I recommend filtered water (such as using a Berkey water filter) which is a top-of-the-line water filter that removes toxic substances and chemicals, like chlorine, mercury, and fluoride from our drinking water (a must if you are trying to reverse and heal leaky gut).
There’s also a super helpful resource where you can look up the quality of water in your area based on your zip code. You can use the free Tap Water Database courtesy of the Environmental Working Group. You can see the levels of heavy metals and contaminants in your water supply and read about actionable steps to take recommended by the EWG.
Toxins do accumulate over time and when we don’t properly reset and detoxify the liver and gut, the digestive system can become sluggish and inflamed. A reset meal plan is designed to reset your microbiome and reboot your body by following a specific gut healthy and autoimmune friendly meal plan in combination with supporting phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification for optimal health. Check out my 7 day Reset and Reboot program here.
Heavy metals are hidden in our everyday foods, environments, and products. To best limit our exposure, we need to become aware of what we buy, apply to our skin, and put in our mouths. After all, our health depends on it. My resource page lists a ton of options that you can swap out to reduce and limit your exposure to these harmful metals that can accumulate in your body.
And if you suspect you have heavy metal toxicity or are showing symptoms that point in that direction, it’s best for you to test not guess! Let’s get you set up with one of my signature programs so we can get you tested and strategize a plan for healing. Check out my programs here!
"When it comes to balancing our body, healing the gut, reversing autoimmunity, and achieving optimal health—we are a lot like a car that won’t run right. In order to fix the problem once and for all instead of relying on jumper cables, we must get underneath the hood, run the diagnostics, and replace the battery so that it runs good as new."
-Nikki Yelton, RD
If you are ready to stop wasting precious time, get off the never-ending hamster wheel, and finally surrender trying to figure things out on your own—this is your moment.
You don’t have to settle for just getting by and hoping tomorrow is a better day. We both know you are a woman who deserves better and are made for so. much. more.