The Dangers of Arsenic Toxicity and How to Reduce Your Exposure
Daily, we are exposed to toxins in our food, water, air, as well as everyday items found in our homes. Over time, these low-level exposures can add up and contribute to chronic health conditions. And, for some individuals, it may not take much exposure for them to experience the harmful effects of toxins, especially if they are more vulnerable due to their genetics and impaired detoxification ability.
Arsenic is one of the most widespread toxins that we are exposed to. In fact, arsenic toxicity has become a global health problem, affecting millions of people. While arsenic is naturally occurring, human activities have increased our exposure to it over the past century. In particular, the use of arsenic-based pesticides has resulted in widespread environmental contamination. At least 10% of the public water supplies contain levels of arsenic known to increase the risk of many chronic diseases.
Excessive exposure or accumulation of arsenic has been shown to be a significant health risk for cardiovascular, endocrine, skin, as well as neurological health. Arsenic’s toxic effects are believed to result from interrupting crucial cellular functions, including inactivating enzymatic reactions, disrupting energy pathways, generating free radicals, hindering cellular communication pathways, and inhibiting DNA synthesis and repair. Symptoms of arsenic toxicity include brain fog, fatigue, memory problems, impaired cardiovascular and circulatory functioning, blood sugar imbalances, skin, lung, and bladder issues, as well as infertility and reproductive issues.
Common Sources of Arsenic in Our Diet
Arsenic can enter the food chain through runoff from agricultural land or contaminated water supplies. Arsenic is also present in some pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture and in chicken feed, as well as some dyes and coloring agents used in food production. Arsenic can also be released into the air through emissions from burning coal and wood.
Most arsenic toxicity comes from drinking water and one’s diet. Because arsenic is easily stored in water and soil, just about all food can potentially contain arsenic. Some of the most contaminated foods include:
- Rice (especially brown rice – organic and non-organic)
- Rice milk
- Brown rice syrup
- Rice based baby formula
- Grapes / juice / wine
- Apples / juice
- Chicken and eggs
10 Tips for Reducing Arsenic Exposure & Toxicity
- Look for all possible sources of arsenic exposure, especially drinking water that comes from a well and contaminated foods.
- Filter your drinking and cooking water. If possible, a whole-house filter is best.
- Limit daily fruit juice consumption in children.
- Eat a varied, nutrient dense, fiber-rich diet to support healthy detoxification.
- Opt for buckwheat, polenta, amaranth, quinoa, bulgur, barley, etc. instead of rice.
- When you do eat rice, instead of following the cooking instructions on the package, cook it this way - For 1 cup of raw rice, add 4 cups of fresh water to a pot. Add rice and boil for 5 minutes. Discard the water. Then, add 2 cups of fresh water to the rice. Cook rice until the water is absorbed.
- Take nutritional supplements that support methylation, such as SAMe, folate, methylcobalamin, L-methionine, and choline to help protect against the harmful effects of arsenic.
- Support your microbiome health. Beneficial gut flora aid in arsenic detoxification.
- Eat Brassica family vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) as they contain sulforaphane, which helps to protect the body from cellular damage caused by arsenic.
- Supplement with curcumin, EGCG from green tea, and glutathione to help reduce the harmful effects of free radicals.
If you would like to gain greater insight into your health, ordering specialty lab testing can be a very helpful tool. For example, our NutrEval can provide a comprehensive assessment of your macronutrients and micronutrients as well as provide insight into your digestive function, toxic exposure, mitochondrial function, and oxidative stress.Taking measures to reduce your toxin exposure, boosting your detoxification ability, and taking targeted nutrients can all help to reduce your risk of toxicity and chronic illness. Working with a skilled healthcare practitioner can help to assess your unique needs and create a plan designed to support your optimal health and well-being.
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