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Why are some people more prone to heavy metal toxicity?

Heavy metal toxicity

Why are some people affected more than others?


For an increasing number of people living in a more polluted and stressful world, our body can become overburdened and strained by toxins that may lead to health problems. 

These toxins can be categorised as follows: 

  1. Antinutrients such as high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods
  2. Internal metabolic toxins such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, bile, urea, free radicals, and stool
  3. Medications used improperly, inappropriately, or too often
  4. Heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, tin, and aluminum
  5. Chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, cleaning prod- ucts, solvents, and glues
  6. Allergens such as food, mold, dust, pollen, and chemicals
  7. Infectious organisms such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, and parasites

Why are some people affected more than others?

Polymorphisms such as MTHFR can cause people to hold onto toxins and heavy metals more than people that don’t have genetic polymorphisms

Deficiency of protective minerals such as Zinc

Ongoing exposure

Poor gut function

What is MTHFR?

MTHFR is an enzyme that adds a methyl group to folic acid to make it usable by the body. The MTHFR gene produces this enzyme that is necessary for properly using vitamin B9. This enzyme is also important for converting homocysteine into methionine, which the body needs for proper metabolism and muscle growth and which is needed for glutathione production. The process of methylation also involves the enzyme from the MTHFR gene, so those with a mutation may have trouble effectively eliminating toxins from the body.

Exposure to toxic heavy metals is believed to be a contributing factor of symptoms like weight gain, low energy, gut health, inflammation, and cognitive changes. Harmful chemicals are everywhere so it’s not possible to totally avoid toxic metals but with proper nutrition the body begins to function optimally.

A good detox protocol can help your body eliminate more toxins by supporting your natural detoxification pathways, following a heavy metal detox plan is one of the best ways to start reversing symptoms.

Foods to help your body detoxify include leafy green vegetables and non-starchy vegetables, and plenty of them.By eating organic, grass fed meats including bone broth and wild caught fish, by adding herbs, spices and other superfoods such as chlorella. Using stainless steel and glass cookware, avoiding chemicals perfumes, make up, additives, fumes, fertilisers and pesticides.

What are heavy metals?

Heavy metals are elements that are toxic at even low concentrations as the body has no use for them. These include mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and aluminium. These heavy metals can be found in organs and the body’s fat cells.

Long-term exposure to heavy metals may lead to physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes. 

At high concentrations even, essential minerals can be toxic.

The toxicity depends on a number of factors

Cadmium - anaemia, anosmia (lack of smell)

Lead - abdominal pain, constipation and lethargy

Mercury - foggy head, leaky gut with food sensitivities, anxiety, restlessness, Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, fatigue

Aluminium - deterioration of mental function, learning difficulties in children, interference with normal immune function and constipation


Testing for suspected heavy metal toxicity

Your doctor or integrative practitioner or naturopath will be able to conduct tests for heavy metal toxicity in the form of hair analysis or a blood test.

 The benefits of doing a heavy metal detox 

Detoxification would include diet modification, nutritional, mineral and vitamin supplementation and chelation. Many of the diet and lifestyle changes applied to a detox regime would include increasing good fats and reducing starch and sugars. These diet modifications will be beneficial for immune system function, gut health, liver function, improvements in energy levels, improvements in mental clarity, attention and memory as well as protection against inflammatory diseases such as cognitive disorders and autoimmune disease.

How to Detox 

Ways to detox the body of heavy metals include making dietary changes and using herbs and supplements, which help to break down metals into smaller molecules so they can be removed from urine, faeces and sweat. 

Supplements that can help detoxification




Vitamins such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B


Milk Thistle

Herbs such as coriander, alfalfa, garlic, echinacea, gingko biloba

Since there can be potent effects of food-based nutrients on detoxification pathways, it’s best to follow a mixed, complex, and whole-foods diet as well as dietary supplements.


Food, beverages, and bioactive compounds with demonstrated, or potential, clinical impact on detoxification systems.

Food or beverage

Nutrient bioactive compounds

Allium vegetables such as onions, chives, leek


Apiaceous vegetables carrots, parsnips, celery, parsley, etc.

Caffeic acid 

Black raspberry 

Catechins (including EGCG) 

Black tea 




Chamomile tea 


Chicory root 

Ellagic acid 


Ferulic acid 


Fish oil 

Cruciferous vegetables (with potential 


for distinct effects of different 




Dandelion tea 





N-acetyl cysteine 





Green tea 


Honeybush tea 

Retinoic acid (vitamin A)

Peppermint tea 


Purple sweet potato 

Rooibos tea 


Soybean/black soybean 



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