Heavy Metal Toxicity: Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations to improve symptoms

The quality of your health depends upon many pieces that not only include the health of your bodily systems, but also include a healthy diet, exercise, and spirituality.

  Treatment of heavy metal toxicity may center on developing general healthy diet guidelines, in addition to making some key adjustments in your relationship with food.

Dietary recommendations for heavy metal toxicity include:

  • Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants like selenium, vitamin C, E, and beta carotene, since these antioxidants defend against heavy metals:
    • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines)
    • Vitamin E: Sprouted nuts and seeds, fish oil
    • Beta carotene: Carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches, apricots2
  • Eat foods rich in such as red meat, beans, and dairy products (if you’re not allergic to dairy).
  • Eat foods rich in magnesium such as broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Eat foods that can increase your level of glutathione (GSH) such as asparagus, broccoli, and spinach. Glutathione is an important antioxidant in the body and a master detoxifier that helps rid the body of heavy metals.
  • Eat lots of fiber. A high-fiber diet can prevent heavy metals from being absorbed. Add ground flax meal to your diet to promote digestive regularity.
  • Add saturated fats to your diet that have antimicrobial properties such as extra virgin organic coconut oil.
  • Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids such as ground flax meal, wild-caught salmon, minimal-mercury albacore tuna, avocados, fish oil, and sprouted walnuts.
  • Eat organic unpasteurized plain yogurt with no added sugar twice a day (unless you are allergic to dairy). Yogurt is highly beneficial because it contains probiotics (“friendly” bacteria). Check the label for “live, active cultures.”
  • Eat at least one crushed garlic clove per day, or take a quality supplement that contains stabilized allicin. The act of crushing garlic releases allicin, a substance that has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
  • Add cilantro to your diet. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cilantro may help mobilize mercury and other neurotoxic metals, pulling them out of the brain to more superficial structures where they can be more easily grabbed and excreted by chelating agents.1,12,13
  • Drink purified water throughout the day.
  • All simple or refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, etc.)
  • All foods containing refined sugar or synthetic sugar-substitutes such as aspartame, Splenda®, etc. Instead, choose a healthy sweetener like Xylosweet.
  • Alcoholic beverages in excess since they hinder the functioning of the immune and detoxification systems
  • Fermented foods such as cheese and wine
  • Excessive caffeine intake – While moderate amounts of caffeine may be beneficial, excessive consumption can disrupt the body’s systems, causing insomnia and digestive irregularity (constipation or diarrhea).
  • Carbonated soft drinks, which alter the pH level in your blood, making it more acidic
  • Sweetened fruit juices that spike blood sugar levels too rapidly
  • Fungi such as mushrooms
  • Pickled foods
  • Bottom crawlers such as oysters, clams, and lobster that may contain toxic levels of mercury
  • Deep-sea fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish that may contain toxic levels of mercury. Choose minimal-mercury albacore tuna instead.
  • Farm-raised fish that contain PCBs and not enough omega-3 essential fatty acids, due to their land-based diets. Choose wild-caught salmon instead.
  • Yeast and wheat products (breads, crackers, pasta, etc.) that contain gluten
  • Sodium nitrite found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in many foods as a flavor enhancer
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) found in many processed foods, deep-fried foods, fast food, and junk food – Read more about good fats and bad fats.
  • Tap water – To reduce your exposure to many heavy metals found in tap water, drink filtered/purified water instead.

Other tips for heavy metal toxicity:

  • Aluminum precautions:
    • Cook with aluminum-free pots and pans.  Choose stainless steel instead.
    • Avoid using aluminum foil and drinking from aluminum soda cans.
    • Avoid foods, products, and over-the-counter drugs that contain aluminum, such as baking powder, antacids, and deodorants/antiperspirants.  Check product labels before purchasing.
    • Minimize your exposure to several metals at one time. Studies that have shown that the presence of mercury and aluminum have a “synergistic” toxicity, meaning that they become even more toxic to the body when they are present together.8
    • Try melatonin.  A study in Spain revealed that melatonin has a protective effect against aluminum toxicity.3
  • Arsenic precautions:
    • Maintain a high-fiber diet.  Fiber binds with arsenic to eliminate it from the body.
    • Eat foods high in sulfur such as eggs, onions, beans, legumes, and garlic. Sulfur helps rid the body of arsenic.4
  • Cadmium precautions:
    • Keep nickel-cadmium batteries properly stored and out of reach of young children.
    • Stop smoking.  Smoking, and breathing second-hand smoke, are primary sources of cadmium exposure.
    • Keep a healthy diet.  A diet low in calcium, protein, or iron, OR high in fat, increases cadmium absorption.5
  • Lead precautions:
    • Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning, particularly from homes built before 1978 that have lead-based paints.  Test your older home for lead. If your home tests positive, look for reputable companies that will safely remove lead from your home.
    • Stay away from Latin American folk remedies called arzacon and greta, which are used for upset stomach or indigestion; and pay-loo-ah, which is used for rash or fever.  These are dangerous lead-based remedies.6
    • Use extreme caution in certain hobbies that require contact with lead, such as stain-glass window work.
    • Do not drink or eat from ceramic ware that contains lead-based paints and glazes.  If you’re unsure about your dishes and cups, choose glassware instead.
  • Mercury precautions:
    • Avoid amalgam (silver) fillings altogether and request safer alternatives from your dentist.  Find a biologic or holistic dentist that practices mercury-free dentistry.
    • If you have “silver” fillings, get an evaluation from a mercury-free dentist who specializes in the safe removal of mercury amalgams.  Improper removal can be more dangerous than leaving your fillings in place.  Find a mercury-free dentist in your area now.
    • Consult with your healthcare professional about the use of vaccines.  Some vaccines contain thimerosal, a mercury preservative that is potentially associated with Autism, behavioral, and learning disorders in children.  Read more in “A User Friendly Vaccine Schedule”.
    • Choose thermometers that do not contain mercury, to avoid toxic spills as a result of breakage.
    • Avoid consuming bottom crawlers (seafood, such as oysters, clams, and lobster that may contain toxic levels of mercury).
    • Avoid deep-sea fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish that contain the highest levels of mercury of all fish.  Choose safer alternatives such as wild-caught salmon or minimal-mercury tuna.

Exercise.  Exercise that really makes you sweat helps your body release toxins.  If you’re sedentary, a good start would be a brisk walk in sunlight to boost your immune system and jumpstart your exercise program.

Additional Information about Heavy Metal Toxicity

  1. Heavy Metal Toxicity Overview
  2. Common symptoms of heavy metal toxicity
  3. Common causes of heavy metal toxicity
  4. Help me choose a natural and alternative treatment for heavy metal toxicity
  5. Conventional or prescription medications used in the treatment of heavy metal toxicity
  6. Additional reading for heavy metal toxicity

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