“Brain fog, headaches, constipation, sluggishness, fatigue – a handful of commonplace ailments that we’ve come to expect in these modern times. We may think the cause is simply a bad night’s sleep, but did you consider that actually it could be more to do with what’s lurking in the foods we consume, the beauty products we use, and even the clothes we wear on our backs? The reason may well be – what functional medicine practitioners have coined – heavy-metal toxicity.
Heavy-metal toxicity is a common topic today among functional medicine practitioners, but not amongst conventional doctors – who may be failing to address and educate us on environmental toxins that could possibly be contributing to an epidemic of health issues. I believe heavy metals have a negative effect on our body in many ways and there have been possible links between increasing inflammation, lowering immunity, disrupting the hormones (especially the thyroid function), and could put us at risk of autoimmune disease. We are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of toxic chemicals on a daily basis that could accumulate in our bodies and significantly impact our health. We are bombarded with toxins found in our cosmetics, food, water, air, furniture and household items, as well as pharmaceuticals. It’s suggested that the thyroid is the most sensitive to environmental and heavy-metal toxicity and if your detoxification channels are poor or sluggish then heavy metals may be stored inside your tissues for years.
It’s also been suggested that these types of toxins could affect our organs, compromise immunity, decrease fertility and create cognitive-health issues including depression and anxiety attacks. And that heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium may disrupt hormonal function by throwing our hormones out of whack. It’s said that heavy metals can mimic essential nutrient structure like iodine and selenium, and if they are circulating in your bloodstream, your thyroid may attract that instead in order to produce thyroid hormones. This anatomical ‘mistake’ can lead to autoimmunity known as Hashimoto’s disease.
The good news is that you can support your body with heavy-metal detoxification. Regular structured detoxes with additional liver and chelating supplements like chlorella, citrus pectin and spirulina, known for their ability to ‘grab’ on to minerals and metals, help to remove them from the body. I believe fasting along with a lot of fibre-boosting immunity will help pull out the toxins. It’s also good to eliminate certain key deficiencies like iodine and selenium, because this will keep you protected in the first place. Iodine actually naturally protects us from heavy-metal toxicity, the problem is 90 per cent of us are deficient.”
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It’s no secret that heavy metal poisoning is common these days, especially with mercury. These toxins disrupt our digestive system and especially hormones. Thyroid is extremely sensitive to this toxin, it makes this gland go ‘crazy’. __________ The highest contamination of heavy metals is usually in large predatory fish. My tuna lovers, bad news. Tuna is often very high in mercury because of its size. And so is baby shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel The bigger the fish, the more accumulated mercury it will carry. Go for smaller, younger fish if you are a pescatarian to minimize the exposure ____________ What’s your favorite fish?
How to minimise your heavy-metal exposure…
- Invest in a high-quality water filter for drinking and bathing water. Reverse-osmosis filters have been found to effectively remove perchlorate, pesticides, PCBs, plastics and a wide variety of heavy metals
- Eat organic food where possible to avoid excessive pesticide and herbicide exposure – or at least wash fruit and vegetables in a pesticide wash
- Avoid synthetic antibacterial products and limit your use of plastics at home. If you do use plastic products, look for BPA-free options, keeping in mind that these may still contain other bisphenol derivatives with potential thyroid-disrupting effects
- Avoid eating from microwavable containers
- Do not drink from a plastic bottle if it has been exposed to heat
- Avoid using non-stick and aluminum cookware as man-made chemicals can leak into food. Stainless steel or enamelled, cast-iron cookware is recommended
- Buy high-quality seafood
- Avoid antiperspirants that contain aluminum
Note: The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and open up conversation. They are the views of the writer and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia March 2020 Issue