By Catherine Guthrie, Experience Life
What would you think if someone asked you to consume a dose of heavy metals every day for the rest of your life? Most likely, you’d be horrified. But truth be told, you’re already doing it. Everyone ingests small amounts of arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury daily. It’s not an option or an immodest proposal – it’s an environmental mandate.
The environment, unfortunately, is laden with heavy metals, mostly as a result of big-industry waste. Anyone who eats a fish sandwich, inhales secondhand smoke, drinks a glass of water or simply breathes air can be exposed.
Heavy-metal toxins is one of those doomsday topics that makes John Q. Public and even some medical experts want to scoff and look away. But the threat is real, and while the extent of the potential damage is still being debated, you don’t have to wait to begin protecting yourself. There are dozens of simple ways to minimize your exposure and curtail potential dangers.
The key is to be proactive about what you can change and mindful about what you can’t. Knowing what you’re up against can help you strike a healthy balance, and may inspire you to learn more about the heated environmental and political debates that surround this important issue.
Tom McGuire, DDS, a holistic dentist in Santa Rosa, Calif., and an expert on mercury-free dentistry, compares the body’s slow accumulation of heavy metals to the damage done by smoking. A person isn’t going to get lung cancer from the first cigarette, he says, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t worry about the long-term health risks of smoking. “Sadly, most people don’t realize they are being poisoned by heavy metals until they have already affected their health.”
To confound matters even further, heavy-metal toxicity can masquerade as a host of other ailments, so it may fly under the radar of conventional healthcare practitioners. “Most physicians don’t think to look at heavy metals as an underlying cause of disease,” says Liz Lipski, PhD, an expert in dietary detox and author of Digestive Wellness (McGraw-Hill, 1999). “It’s just not in their training.”
Symptoms of chronic heavy-metal exposure include depression, irritability, mood swings, tremors, autoimmune diseases, chronic infections and cancer. Skeptics point out that most of these ills can be caused by any number of other factors.
You can cut down on the amount of heavy metals you imbibe by cleaning up your diet and living space. Here’s a guide to four of the most common heavy metals – arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury – the effects they have on the body, and the ways you can mitigate your exposure.
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