The term “heavy metal toxicity” may sound frightening (or fictional), but it’s a real condition in which our bodies absorb heavy metals (like mercury, aluminum, lead, cadmium and others) from environmental sources—including foods—and then holds onto them. Because we live in an ever-burdened chemical society, it becomes harder and harder for our bodies to release these substances. It primarily comes down to the liver to collect and eliminate toxins from the body, but detox takes a backseat to the liver’s other functions when we aren’t properly supporting the body.
Heavy metal toxicity is a real condition that can adversely affect health in many ways, including fertility. What can be done to address it? And how do you know if you have it? Read on for answers.
Heavy Metals & Your Health
Heavy metals are exactly what they sound like—metallic substances. They collect in our body, primarily residing in fatty substances, like the brain. Once in our bodies, the metals become a drag on our detox system, which contributes to a build up of even more metals. This is not asymptomatic, and heavy metal toxicity can manifest in a number of ways, such as the following:
• Chronic fatigue
• Cardiovascular disease
• Anxiety and mood disorders
• Bipolar disorder
• Receding gums and dental disorders
• Cognitive decline
• Varicose veins
• Infertility and miscarriage
It seems impossible that metals could get into our bodies in the first place, let alone have such a far reaching effect. How do we take in these metals? To name a few:
• Eating large fish (tuna, mackerel)
• Living in a city environment
• Mercury amalgam dental fillings
• Drinking water
• Vaccines (aluminum and mercury are often used as preservatives or fillers)
• Cigarette smoke (even second or third hand)
• Lead paint
How Do I Know If I’m Heavy Metal Toxic?
The good news is that testing for metal toxicity is relatively straightforward. The most definitive way is to get a hair analysis done, which will test for approximately 15-20 different heavy metals, and also check for your mineral levels, as well. Even if you find that you’re not heavy metal toxic, you could learn of specific mineral deficiencies or excesses, like calcium, copper, or potassium. Tests can cost between $100-$200, and are often not covered by insurance, but if you have symptoms of toxicity, it’s a small price to pay for such valuable knowledge.
How To Detox From Heavy Metals
While the process of detoxing from heavy metals should certainly be monitored by a professional and qualified doctor, nutritionist, or naturopath, the basics of the process come down to three steps:
1) Remove sources of contamination. A thorough assessment of your lifestyle and possible sources of contamination should be conducted since it makes no sense to detox while contaminants are still entering the body. All effort should be made to rid these sources from the lifestyle, environment, and/or diet.
2) Support the liver and detoxification pathways. After you’ve stopped the bleeding, so to speak, you must enable the body to do its work. Depending on the type of practitioner you’re working with, you may have different forms of treatment. These can include treatments to bind and remove the metals: chelation therapy (a medical treatment that removes heavy metals from the blood using intravenous injections of amino acids), oral chelation, taking clay internally, or supplementing with glutathione. It can also include nutrition therapy to support the liver and increase natural detoxification: supplementation with methylcobalamin, methylfolate, milk thistle, dandelion root, as well as a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables and green tea. Detoxification can also be supported via gentle, cleansing exercise like yoga or Pilates, as well as massage, acupuncture, and saunas.
3) Address individual nutrient needs. On top of basic detox protocols, every person will have individual needs that will make their case unique. Special health conditions, food allergies, sensitivities, and other lifestyle factors need to be considered when addressing toxicity of any kind.
Will Detoxing Get Me Pregnant?
There’s no way to know for sure whether heavy metals could be keeping you from getting pregnant or causing your miscarriages. But since pregnancy is a whole body event, it is simply logical to assume that when the body is under duress, especially from metal toxicity, it isn’t a friendly environment for pregnancy. Even if you aren’t guaranteed a pregnancy after detox, you will increase your quality of life and prevent future, potentially serious health conditions.
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