We are exposed to heavy metals on a daily basis. These are the top 10 foods that can help our body detoxify itself naturally from exposure to metals.
Heavy metals are found in everything from the water we drink to the personal care products we put on our skin, and even in some of the foods we eat.
The types of metals found in our body include mercury, lead, cadmium, copper, iron, zinc, and arsenic. When exposed to them in large amounts, these heavy metals can wreak havoc on our overall health.
How We Get Heavy Metals in Our System
Because we are exposed to it through different routes, heavy metals can build up in our bodies. These are the most common heavy metals we are exposed to and how they enter our systems.
Lead: Lead is released into the air through vehicle exhaust fumes and settles in our soil, which then spreads in the water we drink. This heavy metal is also found in lead glass containers and older paints.
Arsenic: We are exposed to arsenic through the air we breathe and through certain foods, such as rice and even baby cereal products.
Mercury: Crustaceans such as swordfish, sharks, tuna, and mackerel contain mercury, as do some thermometers and amalgams.
Cadmium: Humans can be exposed to cadmium from rechargeable batteries, tobacco smoke, industrial work environments, and even some fruits and vegetables by transfer from the soil to the plant. The scary thing about cadmium is that once it’s in your system, it continues to build up for a lifetime.
Aluminum: Aluminum occurs naturally in water, soil, and air; mining can raise standards.
The Health Risks of Heavy Metal Exposure
Heavy metals can be toxic and cause a wide variety of health complications. These are the top health concerns when it comes to heavy metal exposure.
Neurological Disorders: Arsenic can increase your risk of developing brain problems such as neurological problems, neurobehavioral disorders, and developmental disorders. Aluminum has also been linked to neuronal atrophy.
Cancer: Exposure to heavy metals can increase the risk of cancer, and arsenic is directly linked to an increased risk of several cancers, including those of the skin, lungs, liver, bladder, kidneys, and colon.
Pregnancy Issues: Mercury is a major concern for reproductive health. Even in small amounts, mercury exposure can affect the brain of the fetus and lead to cognitive problems later in life.
Kidney Issues: All heavy metals from the environment such as lead, mercury, and cadmium have been linked to kidney problems. Cadmium exposure is a particular concern because of an increased risk of chronic kidney disease in people with high blood pressure or diabetes.
Developmental Issues in Kids: Exposure to lead can directly affect the brain and cause central nervous system problems and seizures. Keep in mind that lead exposure is not considered safe.
10 Foods That Help Detox
Here are ten foods you can add to your diet to aid the heavy metal detox process.
Cilantro is a powerful all-natural detoxifier and helps remove neurotoxins, such as mercury, from the body.
Top salads with freshly chopped cilantro, add it to your favorite homemade dressing recipe or add it to your juice extractor with lemon, parsley, apple, and cucumber for a super detoxifying drink.
2. Wild Blueberries
Blueberries are high in antioxidants and the wild variety contains even more. The powerful antioxidants in wild blueberries help remove heavy metals from the body while fighting oxidative damage from these heavy metals.
Add wild blueberries to your diet by blending them into a smoothie or topping them with coconut yogurt with almonds for breakfast. When fresh wild blueberries are out of season, you can find them frozen at most grocery stores.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice can give your body the detox boost it needs to get rid of heavy metals. Much of it has to do with hydration. Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to a glass of water can keep your body hydrated, which in turn can help flush out toxins. Lemons are also rich in Vitamin C, which helps protect cells from damage.
Research shows that lemon juice is particularly helpful in detoxifying lead from the body. One study found that a daily dose of vitamin C reduced the total amount of lead in the blood after just one month of supplementation.
Try drinking a cup of lukewarm water with a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice in the morning. It also helps maintain optimal digestion and elimination, another important part of natural detoxification.
Spirulina, also known as blue-green algae, is a plant superfood with anti-inflammatory properties that help the body detoxify heavy metals. Spirulina can also reduce oxidative damage in the brain, according to animal studies.
Add a teaspoon of bright green spirulina powder to smoothies, freshly squeezed juice, or homemade guacamole.
Chlorella is an incredibly nutrient-rich alga that grows in fresh or saltwater. Like cilantro, chlorella helps the body detoxify itself from neurotoxins such as mercury. A study of the effects of chlorella extract in mice found protective benefits when used after lead exposure. Another study found that consuming chlorella may help prevent heavy metal poisoning in rats exposed to cadmium by reducing the body’s absorption of cadmium.
You can find chlorella supplements online or at your health food store, in powder or tablets.
Garlic can stimulate the production of glutathione, the body’s strongest antioxidant and an essential antioxidant for detoxification.
Include plenty of fresh garlic in your diet by sautéing it with vegetables such as cauliflower rice or spaghetti squash, or by adding it to homemade bone broth, soups, sauces, and stews.
Beets are great for supporting liver health, which is essential for proper detoxification of the body. One study found that rats fed beet juice showed an increase in detoxifying enzymes, such as glutathione, which are important for the body’s antioxidant defenses.
Roast the beets in large batches to add to salads, or enjoy, drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Like beets, artichokes are also great for helping the liver. Animal studies have shown that artichoke extracts from the leaves and roots of the plant have liver-protecting benefits in addition to helping liver cells repair. This is important when it comes to helping the body detoxify heavy metals, as one of the liver’s main functions is to flush out toxins.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, helps protect the body after mercury exposure when used regularly. According to an animal study, curcumin reduced markers of kidney and liver damage caused by mercury, while also having a positive effect on glutathione levels.
Try adding turmeric to your diet every day by using it in stir-fries, mixing it through smoothies and drinks. Tip: Always add a pinch of ground black pepper to increase the bioavailability of turmeric.
Ginger is another great anti-inflammatory spice that can help fight free radical damage in the body caused by heavy metal exposure.
You can add fresh ginger to your diet by making homemade apple, lemon, and ginger juices. Don’t have a juicer? Add a pinch of ground or freshly grated ginger to desserts, soups, stews, or bone broth.