Lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic—these are the four most concerning heavy metals when we’re talking about human health.
This, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and several studies. In 2003, researchers noted that even though we now know that exposure to these metals can be dangerous, “exposure to heavy metals continues, and is even increasing in some parts of the world.”
We can protect our health by first, reducing our exposure, and second, by taking steps to flush out any heavy metals that make their way inside us.
It’s an antioxidant that helps protect against heavy metal toxicity. A 2004 study showed that it glutathione (GSH) protected the liver when exposed to things like mercury and chromium. Good sources of this nutrient include fresh (not cooked) fruits and vegetables, particularly asparagus, broccoli, avocados, squash, and spinach. You can also try supplements of N-Acetyl Cystein (NAC) and alpha lipoic acid.
Eat more sauerkraut and probiotics
These health-promoting bacteria help trap and metabolize heavy metals in a way that prevents them from doing harm to the body. A 2014 study, for example, found that yogurt containing probiotics protected children and pregnant women against heavy metal exposure—specifically, mercury and arsenic.
Get healthy fats
These help the body process and excrete toxic heavy metals. Without enough fat, the metals can hang around, accumulating in the tissues. Read more on which healthy fats to consume here. Consider a quality fish oil supplement, as well, as it can deliver healthy omega-3 fatty acids without the mercury content of some fish.
We need this mineral anyway, and studies have shown that it can help lower the effects of toxic heavy metals. A 2008 study, for example, found that selenium supplementation significantly eliminated the toxicity of toxic metal exposure.
Drink plenty of water
Your kidneys need it to move waste through your system.
Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants can help protect your cells from the damage heavy metals can cause.Vitamin C and E are especially powerful antioxidants for protecting against the oxidative damage from heavy metals.
Fiber helps move food through your system, reducing the risk that you’ll absorb the heavy metals.
It is the main hub of waste removal in your body. Eat more foods that support its function, like garlic and onions, beetroot, and artichokes. More on liver-healthy foods here.
Minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, and selenium all help block absorption of toxic metals like lead and cadmium. Make sure you’re getting enough of these healthy minerals in your daily diet. Good sources include eggs, mushrooms, organ meats, seafood, whole grains, and dairy products.
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