How to reduce your heavy metal exposure

How to reduce your heavy metal exposure

and Detoxify your body

Every day, we’re being exposed to heavy metals.

They’re in our food, in our water, in the air, in consumer products, and even in medications.

Numerous studies have connected heavy metal toxicity with multiple forms of cancer and neurological diseases. Heavy metals may even increase your risk of heart disease.

What can you do to reduce your heavy metal exposure? And what does the science actually tell us about the foods that can help you with heavy metal detoxification?

Get the whole story in this article from the Food Revolution Network

You’re exposed to heavy metals every day of your life. Why are they dangerous? How can you heal your body and do a heavy metal detox? And can certain foods help protect you?

Depending on your musical tastes, heavy metal might make up
a good amount of your music collection. (That’s fine by me — as long as you
leave the stereo off if I come over to visit!)

But when it comes to your health, all musical tastes and
joking aside, you can definitely have too much heavy metal in
your life.

What Are Heavy Metals?

Heavy metals are just that — heavier — than other metals.
Many of them are abundant in the environment. This means you’re exposed to some
every day.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of certain heavy metals before.
Some common ones are lead, iron, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury.

Some metals, in small amounts, are essential for life. But
exposure to harmful heavy metals can be very dangerous in large doses
or in certain forms

To understand what this means for you and what you can do
about it, let’s examine heavy metals.

We’ll look at why heavy metals exist and how you can
reduce your exposure. We’ll also discuss how you can protect your body
doing a heavy metal detox.

Heavy Metals Are Almost Everywhere

Heavy metals are a natural part of the Earth’s crust.

Human activity has
led to an increase of heavy metals in the environment. As a result, the heavy
metal exposure risk for humans, as well as all land and sea animals, has also

Exposure to heavy metals can occur through food,
water, air, and commercial products and medications

9 of the Most Common Heavy Metals in Everyday Life

  • Arsenic is in certain food crops
    as well as in drinking water, cigarette smoke, cosmetics, and even the air
    you breathe
    . It’s odorless and tasteless and has a history of use as a
    lethal substance. Arsenic received the name “the
    king of poisons” in centuries past because royalty used it in
    assassinations for personal gain.

  • Mercury is a component of thermometers.
    It’s also a common contaminant foundin certain fish and shellfish. It
    builds up in the ocean as a byproduct of coal burning and other industrial
    pollution. Exposure to mercury can causeneurological damage, harm to the kidneys, and
    even blindness
    . Before scientists understood the toxicity of mercury
    to humans, it was used in cosmetics, medicines, and in curing felt
    for hats. In fact, this is where the term “mad as a hatter” came from. Hatmakers often
    developed physical and mental ailments due to their ongoing mercury

  • Copper has been used by humans for many thousands of years, to
    make things like electrical wire, utensils, architecture, and piping. In
    tiny amounts, copper is an essential micronutrient for humans. But too
    much will 
    damage the kidney, heart, liver,
    stomach, and brain

  • Nickel has had many applications
    since ancient times as a corrosion-resistant metal. It
    is essential for you to make red blood cells. But again, there’s a limit
    to how much is safe in the body. Too much nickel can cause cancer, damage to your nervous
    system, reduction in cell growth, and adverse effects on your heart and

  • Cadmium was used initially during World
    War I in paint and as a tin substitute, but today finds its niche in
    rechargeable batteries and tobacco. Cadmium may be the most toxic element. It serves no beneficial
    purpose in the human body or the ecosystem
    . Cadmium is a known carcinogen.
    And it can accumulate in your body for life.

  • Chromium results naturally from burning coal and oil. It gets into
    the environment through fertilizers and sewage. Paper, pulp, and rubber
    manufacturing, as well as leather and tanning processes, also use
    chromium. High exposure is threatening to the liver, kidney, and
    neurological system, and can result in skin disorders

  • Iron is the most abundant natural metal in the Earth’s crust. It’s
    the most essentialelement for all living species because of its
    role in facilitating the transport of oxygen through the bloodstream.
    But having too much iron in your body is toxic. Women tend to outlive men by seven or
    eight years on average for many reasons. One of these may be that menstruating
    women reduce their iron levels with every period.

  • Aluminum is naturally present in air, water, and soil. Mining and
    processing of aluminum increase its concentration in the environment. You
    know aluminum through the foil you might wrap on leftovers or the can of
    soda in the pantry that (hopefully!) you recycle. Aluminum is fairly
    scarce in the air, water, and soil. Exposure mostly comes from food and
    consumer products. Aluminum can enteryour body by way of antacids, astringents, food
    additives (such as anti-caking agents and colorings), baking powder,
    buffered aspirin, certain cosmetics, and antiperspirants. Aluminum in the
    body can cause lung problems if inhaled. Oral
    ingestion, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to have much effect. Mixed
    evidence also suggests that aluminum can lead to neurodegenerative
    diseases, including Alzheimer’s

  • Lead sources include battery waste, fertilizers, pesticides,
    factory chimneys, car exhaust, gasoline additives, and old paint (the U.S.
    banned it from household paints starting in 1978). Lead exposure is extremely toxic for humans — especially
    for fetuses and young children. It can harm your blood system, reproductive
    organs, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and brain

The Risks of Having Harmful Heavy Metals in Your Body

You need small
amounts of certain heavy metals
 to survive and carry out critical
bodily functions. Thes ones you need include iron, cobalt, copper, manganese,
molybdenum, and zinc.

You can find these micronutrients in various food sources.
And they’re safe at the needed amounts. All metals are toxic at certain
doses, but some can be more damaging than others.

Heavy metals can accumulate in
your body and become dangerous for organs, like your heart, kidney, brain,
liver, and bones.

They can disrupt normal bodily functions, partly
because they displace other important nutrients.

Having an excess of heavy metals in your body can
lead to chronic diseases. These
include certain cancers, neurological problems, cardiovascular disease,
and type 2 diabetes.

How Do You Know If You Have Too Many Heavy Metals in Your

Not everyone is at equal risk for toxic effects. Your
risk level 
depends on many factors. Your age,
health, nutritional profile, exposure to the metal (and the quantity), and how
effectively your body can detoxify excessive amounts all play a role.

Too much exposure to heavy metals can result in either short-term (temporary) and
long-term (chronic) toxicity

Short-term exposure is usually a result of coming in contact
with a high amount of a metal over a shorter period, like through one-time

Long-term exposure is more likely to be a result of exposure
to lower levels of metals over a longer period. This may
result from regularly consuming a food item, for example, or from regularly
using a product that contains low levels of metals.

Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning may vary depending on the type of metal. Symptoms
can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration,
changes in heart rate, numbness and tingling of hands and feet, behavioral
changes, and anemia

Some heavy metals, including arsenic, can cause Mees’
lines (horizontal white bands on your fingernails).

Many of these symptoms could also result from other
conditions and diseases. It’s usually best to have a medical professional help
determine the cause before assuming that heavy metals are at fault for any
particular set of symptoms.

Testing for Heavy Metal Toxicity

If you suspect heavy metal toxicity, your healthcare
provider can order certain 
tests to confirm a diagnosis.

Medical professionals will often start by checking
your blood. They can also test your kidney and liver function as

Some medical professionals might want to test your urine, hair, and nails. This can help
diagnose heavy metal poisoning and determine the appropriate treatment.

It’s common for pediatricians to order blood tests for children to
check for lead exposure, especially if they live in high-risk areas or
environments. Lead poisoning is especially dangerous for kids because
it can cause irreversible brain damage and even death.

How to Reduce Your Heavy Metal Exposure

You may not have much control over the air you breathe or
the exhaust from the traffic in your town. But you can influence other
potential sources of heavy metal exposure.

The most significant risks for heavy metals stem from the
foods you eat, the water you drink, the products you use, and certain exposures
inside your own home

Top Heavy Metal Risk #1 — Food

When it comes to having control over your heavy metal
contact, a great place to start is by evaluating your everyday food

Certain foods are known to be at higher risk for containing
heavy metals, so avoiding them can help remove unnecessary exposure.

Heavy metals are a concern to pregnant and
breastfeeding women 
since they can passthrough
both the placenta and breastmilk. Weaning babies and toddlers are also at risk
because heavy metals have even been found in commercial foods targeted at them — both
organic and non-organic.

Heavy metals are especially prevalent in products that are
rice-based. (More on that below.) Young kids are also at a higher risk of metal
toxicity because their smaller bodies are more susceptible to
absorbing and retaining them.

Even though organic foods can still contain heavy metals
present in soil, they have the benefit of not being exposed to nearly as many
pesticides. (Ideally, they are not exposed to any!)

A recent study by Newcastle University found that
conventionally-grown food had ten to 100 times more pesticides than organic
food. What do pesticides have to do with heavy metals? Many
contain inorganic heavy metals.

3 Types of Food That May be of Particular Concern for
Heavy Metals


Mercury is commonly discovered in large, predatory fish.
This is because these fish tend to live longer than smaller organisms, where
mercury ingestion and absorption often originate in the ocean.

Algae and plankton absorb mercury, which small fish eat. Bigger
fish will then eat the small fish. And even larger fish will eat those
fish — moving up to the top of the food chain, with an ever-increasing
accumulation of mercury in the tissues of the fish.

Unfortunately, the very top of the food chain could be you
if you have a big fish on your dinner plate.

Some of the most at-risk fish for mercury
include tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange
roughy, shark, swordfish, and tilefish


Rice is an inexpensive, versatile, and nutritious food item.
However, recent research has found that, regardless of the variety,
rice is one of the 
most arsenic-contaminated foods on store

Brown rice is among the worst. Studies conducted by Consumer Reports found that brown rice
actually had 80% more arsenic than white rice. This is because arsenic
accumulates in the outer grain, which is removed to make white rice. Infant
rice cereal
contains around six times as much arsenic as baby
cereals made from other grains.

The arsenic content in rice can vary depending on where in
the world it grows. Whether it grows organically or conventionally, however,
has no meaningful relevance to its arsenic content. Testing also shows
that grains like quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, farro, polenta, and millet
contain little if any arsenic.

And here’s some other good newsCooking
methods can help reduce the arsenic content of rice
. Rinse rice before
cooking, and then cook it using a water to rice ratio of
6:1, draining off excess water when done.

Researchers also found that cooking rice in a coffee pot can reduce its
arsenic content by up to 85%. You can make a risotto that will really wake you
up in the morning! (For more about arsenic in rice, check out our article

Bone Broth

Though marketed as something of a miracle elixir for all
manner of health benefits, bone broth can be a significant
source of lead

This is because bones store lead. And when you cook the bones or many hours
to make bone broth, the contents of the bones will remain in the end product.

A 2013 study published in Medical Hypotheses found
that even bone broth made from organic chicken bones had “markedly high
lead concentrations,”
 as compared to water cooked in the same pot.
(For more on the health considerations related to bone broth, see this article.)

Top Heavy Metal Risk #2 — Drinking Water

Heavy metals enter the groundwater through soil
contamination of underground aquifers

It might be a good idea to have your water tested for heavy metals, especially if you have a well
or if your home has older plumbing.

The tragic case of contaminated drinking water that most
recently dominated the headlines is in Flint, Michigan. In 2014, government
officials eager to save money replaced properly treated water from Lake Huron
with improperly treated water from the Flint River.

The 100,000 residents of the city were exposed to lead
leaching from old pipes. Local physicians alerted the public of high lead levels in resident
children in 2015.

Despite all the attention on Flint, it is far from the only
area with a lead problem.

According to an investigation published in the Washington Post in 2016 based on EPA
records, “Lead taints water across the U.S.

The report went on to describe that an estimated 20%
of the water systems in the U.S. have unsafe levels of lead
. Among these
water systems, 350 daycare centers and schools failed lead tests a total of 470
times between 2012 and 2015. In New Jersey alone, 11 cities had even more
dangerously high lead levels than Flint.

Is this problem limited to the United States? No.
According to a 2014 story in the Irish Times, lead contamination levels up
to 80 times the legal limit were detected in drinking water in Dublin. And
an estimated 40% of properties in the UK connect to the
water supply main by lead pipes that are leaching lead into municipal drinking

Fortunately, modern technology can reduce and even
remove heavy metals, like lead

One way to do this is by investing in a high-quality
water filtration system for your home water
. This may include distillation,
ion exchange, reverse osmosis, or an activated carbon filtration system. Different
products will remove different toxins and metals. Look third-party tested
products. This ensures they will indeed remove what they claim to remove from
your water.

(For more on drinking water and water treatment
options, check
out our article on water here
. And for one of my favorite water filter
options, and a special price for Food Revolution readers, check out the AquaTru, here.)

Top Heavy Metal Risk #3 — Consumer Products

Heavy metals, including iron, mercury, arsenic, lead,
chromium, aluminum, and zinc, have been found in popular personal care products, like makeup,
whitening toothpaste, sunscreen, eye drops, and nail polish

In a 2013 study published in Environmental
Health Perspectives
, researchers tested 32 lipsticks for lead — and found
that 75% of the lipstick samples contained detectable lead levels.

Want to find safer cosmetics and personal care products?
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

Heavy metals in personal care products may result from
contamination. But sometimes, they’re actually added ingredients.
Manufacturers often use aluminum in cookware, including aluminum pots and pans.
Fortunately, safer alternatives are available, like stainless steel.

Top Heavy Metal Risk #4 — Your Home Air

Though at lower concentrations than in food, heavy
metals also exist in the air

Arsenic is one of the most common metals in
the atmosphere. There are higher concentrations of it near

Other airborne heavy metals include cadmium,
chromium, and nicke
l. Why are these substances floating around?
Mainly because of certain human activities, like driving
cars, running heavily-polluting industrial businesses, and using aerosol

How do you clean up the air you breathe?

One option is to get a home air purifier that filters out
heavy metals
. You might also want to consider making it a household rule
for everyone to remove their shoes before walking around inside. This prevents
tracking heavy metals around the house and then kicking them up and inhaling

Foods to Help You with Heavy Metal Detoxification

The best thing you can do to prevent heavy metals from
building up in your body is to avoid excessive exposure in the first place.
However, you can’t count on attaining perfect success.

Every time I stand behind a bus as it starts up, I feel like
I need a detox! But that doesn’t mean I want to live in such a way that I never
wind up standing on busy streets.

When your body is working as it was designed to, it can
protect you from many of the heavy metals you are exposed to without them doing
you harm

And certain foods and nutrients may help your body remove
heavy metals.

Here are six of them:

Heavy Metal Detox Food #1 — Cruciferous Vegetables

Your liver has enzymes that work to flush toxins from your

You can boost the
efficacy of these enzymes by eating cruciferous
, such as broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and

Heavy Metal Detox Food #2 — Fiber

Fiber — found
only in plant foods 
— can help bind to cadmium, arsenic, mercury, lead, copper, and
aluminum. This makes it easier for your body to clear them out.

This mechanism is called Metals Capturing Capacity.
Researchers have found that foods naturally high in insoluble
fiber may be particularly good at binding dietary mercury

Heavy Metal Detox Food #3 — Phytates

A compound in plant foods called phytates. They inhibit iron
absorption, can help remove excess iron in the body.

Grains, nuts, and
 all contain phytates.

Heavy Metal Detox Food #4 — Probiotics

Probiotics may also play a
role in helping your body clear away heavy metals.

Research shows Lactobacillus
 and Bifidobacterium lactis bacteria
are effective in reducing oral lead exposure in the brains of

A 2014 study published in the journal American
Society for Microbiology 
looked at the effects of probiotics on
mercury and arsenic absorption in the body. The researchers found that yogurt infused with Lactobacillus
 was protective for pregnant women against mercury absorption
by up to 36% and against arsenic by up to 78%.

Heavy Metal Detox Food #5 — Cilantro

While more research is needed, some scientists think that
cilantro may help reduce the toxic effects of heavy metals.

Some researchers suggest that eating cilantro alongside
commonly contaminated food items, at the same meal, may reduce the body’s
absorption of heavy metals
. Another study suggests that cilantro may increase urinary excretion of mercury, lead, and

Heavy Metal Detox Food #6 — Black Sesame Seeds

Black sesame seeds may also help remove heavy metals from
the body.

Research indicates that their ability to bind lead,
cadmium, and mercury
 may be due to powerful phytochemicals known
as lignans. Black sesame seeds seem to bind more effectively to these heavy metals than to
lighter essential metals, like iron, calcium, and zinc.

How do you use them? You can easily sprinkle black sesame
seeds onto most any dish or even add them to smoothies. A delicious way to

Can Other Foods Help Protect You from Heavy Metals?

Research has indicated several other foods with the
potential for removing certain heavy metals — specifically, cadmium and iron —
from the body.

Diets high in soybeans, onions, curry paste, and
 have been shown to have a beneficial effect
on cadmium levels and have actually reversed damage to various organs and

Other studies have shown that diets high in garlic, ginger,
green tea, and tomato paste
, help to heal damage caused by excessive iron

Algae, such as chlorella and spirulina, have
also improved kidney, liver,
and brain damage induced by cadmium and iron. This is thought to
be due to the high antioxidant content of algae.

(Interested in trying spirulina, but not sure how to use it?
Check out this “Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie” from Food Revolution Summit
speaker Anthony William.)

Does Sweating It Out Help Detox from Heavy Metals?

Some health advocates have proposed that sweating can help remove certain
heavy metals
Strenuous exercise or regular sauna
 can therefore enhance a heavy metal detox.

While this may be true, no large controlled trials
are illustrating it or offering specific evidence-based guidance
. That
doesn’t mean it doesn’t help. It simply means that we don’t know.

The most proven heavy metal detoxification intervention
appears to come from efforts to clean up the environment and eat foods that
promote your body’s natural capacity to detoxify.

Heavy Metals Are Worth Your Attention

The modern world has increased our exposure to heavy metals
far beyond what our bodies were designed for. But even though you can’t
avoid heavy metals entirely, youcan take steps to reduce your

By making informed choices when it comes to the products you
use, the foods you eat, the water you drink, and other everyday habits, you can
significantly reduce the amount of heavy metals that make their way into your

And by choosing to eat a healthy diet, based on a
wide variety of whole plant foods, you can help your body protect and detoxify
. Then heavy metal can stay where it belongs: in your music library
(or not, as the case may be!).


Remember to sign up for your free Healthy Living / Personal Development book a month

Also check out our book site for help with Healthy Living Solutions.

Also check out our site where we have great recipes.


Rod Stone
Publisher and Supplier of Healthy Living information and products to improve
your life.

This site makes use of cookies which may contain tracking information about visitors. By continuing to browse this site you agree to our use of cookies.