At some point, your body is going to come into direct contact with a toxic heavy metal, no question about it. How well you handle that exposure depends on the following three things.
1. The substance.
2. The amount of time spent coming into contact with it.
3. Your ability to detoxify it.
Trace amounts of heavy metals routinely turn up in fruit juice, medications, health supplements, and even baby formula! And yet, when we look at the Earth’s crust as a whole, these heavy metals were once relatively scarce. Ever wonder how we got here?
The link between heavy metals and serious health problems has its roots in the industrial revolution. Back then, techniques used in the manufacturing allowed metals to seep into our waterways, our soil, and the air we breathe. It’s fair to assume that our ancestors might not have realized the long term implications of dumping heavy metals into the environment. Today, such ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.
Yet corporations around the world continue to add toxic materials to our daily products. It’s now commonplace to find lead in lipstick, cadmium in car seat covers, aluminum in food products, and the list goes on and on and on.
As a result, getting metals into the body is the easy part. And while a lot can be said for eating healthy, no amount of kale soup is going to chelate heavy metals. As mentioned in the introduction, organic food is tested for pesticides, not heavy metals.
Unraveling the damage caused by heavy metals now becomes a process. Not least because symptoms present themselves in multiple forms. Once we have one health-destroying heavy metal floating around inside us, the risk of accumulating another increase tenfold.
The difference between sickness and health really comes down to how effective your body is at filtering out toxins. Taking the biggest hit for the team are the liver and kidneys. But there’s problem lurking, can you see it?
Earlier, we learned that the brain doesn’t have a filter; it has a protective barrier around it. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and aluminum are able to sneak past that barrier with ease. Once they get inside the brain, your pituitary gland is left exposed.
THE PITUITARY GLAND
This small gland is only about the size of a pea but it plays a pivotal role in your health. The pituitary gland is often described as the “master gland.”
The hormones the pituitary gland helps to create have an impact on other parts of the endocrine system. This would include the thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. Before we give all the credit to the pituitary gland it’s worth mentioning that it gets a little help from the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus signals to the pituitary gland when to stimulate or inhibit hormone production. Stay with me here because the importance of knowing this is about to link right back to heavy metals.
The pituitary gland is a key player in producing melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. As we sleep our bodies do a great deal of detoxifying. Without sleep, the brain cannot rest or repair itself. To be clear, sleep is an essential part of detoxification.
As we sleep our brains shrink allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flood the area and clear out harmful toxins. It’s the equivalent of a cleanup crew coming into clean the store after hours. Recent research suggests people who sleep better have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The thinking behind this is that harmful waste proteins linked to Alzheimer’s are washed away as we sleep.
Heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, and lead unnaturally stimulate the pituitary. This might explain why some folks feel “tired and wired” at bedtime. It can also feel like the mind “chatter” just won’t shut off.
The pituitary gland also plays a key role in our intuition. When our intuition is off we lose the ability to sense when something is immediately and instinctively wrong.
Let’s explore this a little.
When heavy metals are present in the brain rational thinking becomes an unachievable skill. At best, foggy thinking becomes the new normal; at worst a person is capable of lashing out in either anger or frustration. Perhaps both are consequences of a mind that is slowly being poisoned. Clearly, the human mind cannot cope with heavy metal exposure hence the importance of detoxification cannot be understated.
THE WEAKEST LINK
Unfortunately, it’s not just the brain that’s left exposed to toxic metals. Heavy metals can settle just about anywhere in the body. Be it in the thyroid, prostate, heart, muscle, or even bone. When heavy metals settle in their new home they do a first-class job of messing with body chemistry.
To the body, heavy metals look similar to many important minerals. As an example, thallium mimics potassium which can affect nerves and cardiovascular system. Cadmium is known to displace zinc, and lead is so chemically similar to calcium that it leaches into the bones. Here’s the huge takeaway message. This process happens faster in a body that is deficient in minerals.
Minerals help to perform functions necessary for life. The five major minerals in the human body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. These minerals were once found in abundance in the foods we ate. Unfortunately, we now live in a world where food is grown for profit, rather than mineral content. I digress.
Trace minerals that your body needs to stay healthy are becoming harder to find. This can cause a real disconnect between chronic illness (illness lasting three months or more) and missing minerals. In case you missed it, heavy metals are masters of mimicry. To simplify, they are fake minerals that confuse the body.
WHEN SILVER BECOMES MERCURY
We touched on dental amalgam in my previous post, let’s recap, define exactly what they are, and why they are present a problem. Dental amalgam (also known as silver fillings) is a material used to fill cavities. It’s a mixture of metals consisting of silver, tin, copper and elemental mercury, the latter making up as much as 50% of the filling.
Once the amalgam becomes an integral part of the tooth, mercury vapors begin to trickle down into the rest of the body. This happens around the clock, 365 days a year. Overtime. this builds up causes a cascade of health problems. The only way to prevent further exposure is to remove the “silver” fillings. But as always, the devil is in the details.
Before attempting to remove a silver filling it’s important to find an educated dentist who fully understands the dangers of mercury toxicity, sadly, most do not. In the wrong hands, removal will often create more problems than it solves.
Heavy metals experts around the world agree that these types of fillings should have been banned years ago. Despite a mountain of evidence alerting dentists to the dangers, some continue putting “silver” fillings into the mouths of children. The argument often put forward is that metal fillings are stronger and last longer. Sheesh, thanks for nothing!
But mercury isn’t confined to teeth. It should come as no surprise that some of the highest readings are found in our waterways. As such, the higher up the food chain you go the higher the concentration of methylmercury. Consumable products made from fish can also become a problem. Inexpensive fish oil supplements sold in some big box stores can be a hidden source of methylmercury. Some of the more reputable supplement companies offer third-party testing. Third-party testing ensures that someone who is perceived to be independent checks the fish for excessive levels of methylmercury.
Remember, what heavy metals do best is disrupt, it’s their party piece if you like. We’ve already learned that they like to mimic important minerals and just for good measure, heavy metals also mess up enzyme activity.
Enzymes help regulate different processes in the body. They also make certain chemical reactions happen. Whenever a cell needs something done in a hurry it uses enzymes to speed up chemical reactions. Enzymes are special types of proteins. Like all proteins, they are made from strings of amino acids. Inside the amino acid, cysteine group is the sulfhydryl group.
Why is this important to know?
Sulfhydryl groups are good at moving electrons around and holding the good metals like copper and zinc in place. Unfortunately, old friend mercury also likes to link up with sulfhydryl groups. Once mercury gets attached, it displaces the copper or the zinc that was supposed to be there.
ZINC AND COPPER
Zinc is important as it’s required for the catalytic activity of more than 300 enzymes. It’s also involved in the synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, nucleic acids, and other micronutrients. Zinc is an immune-system booster that helps the body stay healthy. But everything it’s a delicate balancing act. Copper and zinc have an interesting relationship. The intake of one causes the other to decrease in the body. A healthy balance between the two is critically important to prevent a buildup of toxicity in the body. Copper is important for a healthy heart, bones, and brain development. Copper and zinc are a team that likes to work together. But
those destructive heavy metals we keep talking about cause this fine balance to become unglued.
Are we there yet?
Yes, copper and zinc are important but so are all the other minerals! As an example, the heart needs calcium, magnesium, and potassium or it simply won’t pump smoothly. Let’s not forget, heart disease is the number one killer in the US. When heavy metals mimic essential minerals they prevent them from doing their job. When this happens, heavy metals will send every system in the body out of balance!
BRAIN FOG AND FATIGUE
Now, can you imagine the complexity of the problem once heavy metals cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the mind? Can we expect to see a little brain fog? I think so.
I’m sure many have heard the term “mad as a hatter”. A reference to English hat makers who, not so long ago, used mercury as part of their hat-making process. These craftsmen were well known for their irrational outbursts and depressive bouts. Once mercury entered the bloodstream it was really only a matter of time before it crossed the blood-brain barrier.
Alas, problems aren’t limited to mental anguish or brain fog. Once heavy metals disrupt enzyme production essential nutrients are blocked from reaching the mitochondria (yup, we’ll cover these little powerhouses in more detail later). Think of them as the battery inside your watch, when the battery runs down the watch slowly runs down. When the mitochondria are disrupted, people will often complain of debilitating fatigue.
By now you should be realizing that heavy metals do a pretty good job at messing with all aspects of our health. But without a clear plan, heavy metals can be an extremely complicated riddle to solve. With that in mind, my next post will show you how to test yourself for heavy metals.
Like what you read? Check out this book.