An excessive amount of heavy metals can have negative effects on the human body. Certain foods and medications can help remove heavy metals from the body. The use of these substances for this purpose is known as heavy metal detoxification. Consuming small amounts of certain heavy metals, such as iron and zinc, is essential for a healthy body. However, large amounts of heavy metals can be toxic to the body and the environment.
According to a 2019 study, heavy metal poisoning is a common health problem due to the prevalence of industrial, agricultural and sewage waste. Certain substances, such as those found in certain foods and medicines, bind to heavy metals and transport them out of the body. This process is called chelation.
This article examines the possible benefits of heavy metal detox diets. The evidence behind them, some vital safety considerations, and possible side effects.
- 1 What is a heavy metal detox?
- 2 Here are some examples of heavy metals:
- 3 Here are some sources of heavy metals:
- 4 Are heavy metal detoxifications effective?
- 5 Are heavy metal detoxifications safe?
- 6 Alternatives
- 7 What to remember for a heavy metal detox
- 8 Source
What is a heavy metal detox?
Substances in certain foods can help transport heavy metals out of the body. A heavy metal detox aims to remove excess heavy metals from the body. A substance that binds to heavy metals is called a chelator. The process that transports them out of the body is called chelation. A heavy metal detox can also be called chelation therapy. Doctors use specific chelating drugs to treat heavy metal poisoning. Certain foods can also help remove heavy metals from the body.
Heavy metal toxicity can affect the functioning of organs such as the brain, liver and lungs. A high concentration of heavy metals in the body can also reduce energy levels and affect blood composition. Long-term exposure to heavy metals can cause the symptoms seen in degenerative diseases. Such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
In some cases, long-term exposure to certain metals can even cause cancer.
Here are some examples of heavy metals:
Heavy metals can enter our body through food and environmental factors.
Here are some sources of heavy metals:
fossil fuel emissions
pesticides on crops
Are heavy metal detoxifications effective?
For people with heavy metal poisoning, heavy metal detox can be essential to prevent life-threatening complications. Doctors can use certain drugs that bind to metals and flush them out of the body. For people with low but regular exposure to heavy metals, which can build up in the body, a heavy metal detox can help prevent a range of chronic diseases. According to some research, heavy metal detox can help prevent kidney, cardiovascular, and neurological conditions.
Some healthcare professionals offer chelation as a treatment for cardiovascular disease. A large study in 1,708 people found a modest reduction in cardiovascular events after chelation therapy compared to placebo. However, this was only the case for people with diabetes. It may be better to follow a heart-healthy diet and make the necessary lifestyle changes to treat heart problems, than to risk the potentially dangerous side effects of chelation therapy, which may have no benefit.
Some researchers believe there is a link between high levels of heavy metals and Alzheimer’s disease. Numerous in vitro and in vivo preclinical research has shown the relationship between metals such as copper, zinc and iron and the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Metals play a critical role in cellular processes that keep neurons and the brain healthy.
Specifically, one article suggests that a therapeutic strategy aimed at targeting brain metals is theoretically well-founded and justified. However, scientists need more evidence to support this claim. Research has not shown that a definitive metal-targeted pathway, such as strict chelation, is effective or optimal in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some practitioners suggest chelation therapy as a treatment option for autism. This is linked to suggestions that thimerosal used in childhood vaccinations caused autism due to mercury toxicity. Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative found in some childhood vaccinations.
Are heavy metal detoxifications safe?
Everyone has some amount of heavy metals in their body. For people who have a normal amount, chelation may cause more harm than good.
Chelation therapy can treat heavy metal poisoning under the careful supervision of a healthcare professional. The use of chelation in other than extreme cases of heavy metal poisoning can be very dangerous, even fatal. Chelation therapy can cause low calcium in his blood, causing cardiac arrest and tissue death, and then brain death.
In some cases, heavy metal detoxifications can cause heavy metals to recirculate through the body.
Chelation therapy can cause many side effects, including:
a reduction in calcium levels, which can be fatal
a drop in blood pressure
permanent kidney damage
One may be able to reduce heavy metal levels in their body more gradually by changing their diet. Certain foods, such as spirulina and cilantro, can help flush excess heavy metals out of the body.
According to a 2013 study, the following foods may be effective for heavy metal detoxification:
Various fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and bran cereals, can help eliminate heavy metals. Researchers have found that fiber reduces mercury levels in the brain and blood.
Studies have shown that chlorella increases mercury detoxification in mice.
Foods containing sulfur
Foods high in sulfur, such as garlic and broccoli, can be good chelators. Research has suggested that garlic may have prevented cadmium-induced kidney damage and reduced lead-induced oxidative damage in rats.
Cilantro may be helpful, but there is currently little evidence to support it. In an animal study, cilantro decreased the absorption of lead into the bones. In a trial of children exposed to lead, cilantro was found to be as effective as a placebo. The same study also lists some supplements that may work to chelate heavy metals from the body:
Some forms of glutathione, taken other than orally, can protect cells from oxidative damage that heavy metals can cause.
Modified Citrus Pectin
Modified citrus pectin and substances from brown algae reduced heavy metal toxicity by approximately 74% in human participants in five case studies.
Sulfur-containing amino acids
examples are taurine and methionine.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that can replenish other antioxidants in the body and chelate body metals.
Selenium can help remove mercury from the body. In one trial, organic selenium supplementation was beneficial for people exposed to mercury.
What to remember for a heavy metal detox
The presence of high amounts of heavy metals in the body can lead to health problems or chronic diseases. However, there is little evidence that heavy metal detoxification using drugs or chelation therapy can cure any condition. Chelation therapy can be vital in treating heavy metal poisoning. However, in some cases it can be very dangerous and can cause more harm than good. Sometimes it can even be fatal.
People wishing to detox from heavy metals should try to find safer and more gradual alternatives. Certain foods also act as chelators to bind heavy metals and transport them out of the body. Some dietary supplements can also act to detoxify the body of heavy metals. However, it is recommended to consult your doctor before taking any new supplements and to always follow the advice of your health professional when seeking to detox naturally from heavy metals.
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Callegaro, MG, et al. (2011). Effect of wheat bran and flaxseed on cadmium effects and retention in rats [Abstract].
Chelation for coronary heart disease. (2019).
Eliaz, I., et al. (2007). Integrative medicine and the role of modified citrus pectin/alginates in heavy metal chelation and detoxification – Five case reports [Abstract].
Gould Soloway, RA (nd). Chelation: Therapy or “therapy”?
Gould Soloway, RA (nd). Vaccines do not cause autism.
Heavy metal poisoning. (2006).
Hegde, ML, et al. (2009). Challenges associated with metal chelation therapy in Alzheimer’s disease.
Jaishankar, M., et al. (2014). Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals.
Kim, J.-J., et al. (2019). Heavy metal toxicity: An update of chelating therapeutic strategies [Abstract].
Li, YF, et al. (2012). Organic selenium supplementation increases mercury excretion and decreases oxidative damage in long-term mercury-exposed residents from Wanshan, China [Abstract].