Department of Biotechnology, North East Frontier Technical University, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Received: 02-Jun-2023, Manuscript No. JPTS-23-101191; Editor assigned: 05-Jun-2023, Pre QC No. JPTS-23-94204 (PQ); Reviewed: 19-Jun-2023, QC No. JPTS-23-101191; Revised: 26-Jun-2023, Manuscript No. JPTS-23-101191 (R); Published: 03-Jul-2023, DOI:10.4172/2322-0139.11.2.006
Citation: Yasin K. Heavy Metals in the Environment and Potential Health Risks: Nutritional Implications. J Pharmacol Toxicol Stud.2023;11:006.
Copyright: © 2023 Yasin K. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the author and source are credited.
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Heavy metals pose potential health risks due to their toxicity and tendency to accumulate in living organisms. Several nutritional strategies can help mitigate these risks.
Chelation therapy involves consuming certain substances that bind to heavy metals, allowing them to be expelled through the urine and stool. Foods high in dietary fiber can aid in heavy metal excretion, as can calcium, magnesium and zinc supplements. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage contain compounds that upregulate the proteins responsible for pumping heavy metals out of cells.
A diet rich in antioxidants may help combat the oxidative stress caused by heavy metal toxicity. Antioxidants are found in colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, citrus fruits and leafy greens. Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and flaxseeds can also reduce oxidative damage.
Limiting consumption of processed foods is recommended as they often contain preservatives and additives that could increase absorption of heavy metals. Opting for whole, plant-based foods when possible and minimizing red meat intake may also benefit overall health.
A balanced diet with an emphasis on plant-based foods, antioxidants, fiber and select supplements can form the foundation of a nutritional strategy to mitigate potential risks from heavy metal exposure. However, medical advice is always recommended for those concerned about heavy metal toxicity.
There are several other nutritional strategies that can be employed to help mitigate health risks due to heavy metal exposure. Increasing consumption of foods high in sulforaphane, such as broccoli and cabbage, may help boost glutathione levels. Glutathione acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in detoxification in the body. Other sulfur-containing foods like garlic, onions and eggs can also help boost glutathione [1-3].
Garlic, in particular, has been shown to reduce lead levels in the blood. Increasing intake of foods high in molybdenum, such as lentils, can also help with detoxification. Molybdenum is needed to produce the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which helps metabolize sulfite compounds that bind to heavy metals.
Drinking herbal teas made from burdock root, dandelion root, nettle leaf or milk thistle seeds can assist with detoxification through the liver and kidneys. These herbs contain antioxidants as well as compounds that help stimulate bile flow, aiding in the excretion of toxins and heavy metals through stool.
Making lifestyle changes to reduce overall heavy metal exposure is also important. Using alternatives to nonstick cookware and avoiding cosmetics or household products with heavy metals can help minimize ingestion and absorption of these harmful elements. Air filters and home water filter systems may be beneficial for those concerned about environmental exposure .
In summary, nutrition and lifestyle interventions can play an important role in reducing health risks due to heavy metal exposure. However, medical advice is always recommended for those concerned about heavy metal toxicity.
Antioxidants found in spices and herbs can also play a role in heavy metal detoxification. Turmeric contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin, which has been studied for its ability to bind heavy metals in the body and aid their excretion. Curcumin is a yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric. Increasing consumption of turmeric in curries and other dishes is an easy dietary change.
Ginger root is another spice high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may assist with heavy metal detoxification. Ginger can be added fresh or powdered to teas, soups and stir fries. Other spice antioxidants to increase intake of include cinnamon, oregano and cumin .
For those with high levels of heavy metal exposure, dietary supplements may provide additional support. Alpha lipoic acid supplements have been studied for their ability to increase glutathione levels and bind certain heavy metals like lead and mercury. N-acetyl-cysteine is a supplement form of the amino acid cysteine, which aids in glutathione production. Melatonin supplements have shown promise in animal studies for reducing lead toxicity.
In all cases, medical monitoring of heavy metal levels through blood or urine tests is recommended when making dietary or lifestyle changes aimed at detoxification. Many variables impact heavy metal absorption, risks and excretion, so a consultation with a physician knowledgeable in environmental medicine can ensure interventions are tailored to the individual's needs.