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Foods that stimulate heavy metal detoxification

August 26, 2023
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Foods that stimulate heavy metal detoxification

Today we're talking about a very interesting scientific research that has analysed, compared and studied the effects of some foods, but also vitamins and minerals to counteract the toxicity caused by heavy metals. The study was published in the journal Nutrients thanks to the work of a Chinese team (Zhai et al, Nutrients, 2015).

Heavy metals, where they are found and risks

Cadmium and lead are two very common heavy metals in the environment following industrial activity and we are all exposed to these substances through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Cadmium and lead are toxic and can cause lung, kidney, liver, cardiovascular, reproductive and bone problems. Not only that, neurological damage has also been observed. The problem with cadmium and lead is that these heavy metals accumulate in the body where they remain for several years, gradually increasing their levels over the long term. Hence the importance of acting day after day, counteracting the accumulation of these heavy metals and their toxic effects.

Minerals that counteract the damage of heavy metals

A deficiency of some essential metals such as zinc, calcium, selenium and iron leads to a greater absorption of cadmium and lead and therefore to greater toxicity. Instead, ensuring a regular intake of zinc, calcium, selenium and iron is protective for health. Indeed, zinc binds to cadmium and stimulates detoxification processes. Not only that, zinc attenuates the toxicity of lead and cadmium. Selenium protects the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and blood from damage by cadmium and lead and forms inactive compounds with these, thus promoting their elimination from the body. Calcium, iron and magnesium help reduce the intestinal absorption of heavy metals.

Vitamins against the damage of heavy metals

Not only minerals, vitamins also help to protect the body from the damage of heavy metals. For example, a deficiency in vitamins C, B1 and B6 increases the body's sensitivity to heavy metal toxicity. Instead, taking these vitamins through diet or supplements has been shown to protect organs such as the brain and lungs from cadmium and lead damage. Not only that, these vitamins also reduce circulating levels of cadmium and lead.

Foods not to be missed to protect the body from heavy metals

In the previous paragraphs we have seen the beneficial action of some individual nutrients. There are some foods which, due to their composition and synergy of beneficial substances, have shown, more than others, to counteract the damage of heavy metals. For example, a third of a teaspoon a day of tomato paste taken for 2 months allowed, in mice, to restore renal function impaired by exposure to lead through drinking water. But the tomato in general, taken in all its forms, is capable of reducing the accumulation of heavy metals in the liver. A small glass of grape juice as well as whole grapes also help to counteract the toxicity of cadmium. Other foods useful for counteracting the damage of heavy metals are garlic, onion, ginger and licorice. Finally, don't forget the action of green tea, which protects the liver from cadmium and lead damage.

Conclusions and warnings

We have seen that some nutrients taken individually and some foods, which possess a synergy of nutrients, can help counteract the damage caused by heavy metals such as cadmium and lead and their accumulation in the body. To guarantee this detoxifying action you can resort to a healthy and varied diet, which includes garlic, onion, ginger, tomato, green tea, but also whole grains, nuts, oilseeds and legumes that are a source of zinc and iron. Don't forget Brazil nuts, which provide selenium, but also green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits, which are sources of vitamin C. Finally, eggs and yeast ensure the vitamins of group B.

Alternatively, there are also supplements containing vitamins, mineral salts and food extracts seen in the previous paragraphs. If you intend to use supplements, then ask your doctor for advice to evaluate your personal situation.

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