Probiotics may help detox your body of heavy metals

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Heavy metal toxicity is common. In the past it was predominantly a problem for people who worked in specific industries that exposed them to toxic metals. These days I often see high levels of heavy metals in varied patients in any occupation. Did you know that probiotics can bind with mercury and arsenic, helping to remove these metals from your body?

A Canadian study has shown that a type of good bacteria commonly found in yoghurt and probiotic supplements can help to protect pregnant women and children from the harmful effects of heavy metal toxicity. The research was conducted by the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotics. The specific bacterium is called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. In their research, the scientists wanted to find out if regular consumption of the probiotic could prevent heavy metals in the diet from getting absorbed into the body.

The research was actually carried out in Tanzania, where yoghurt that contained L. rhamnosus was given to pregnant women and children in the Mwanza region. The researchers measured the participants’ levels of metals before and after the consumption of the yoghurt and reported their findings in the American Society of Microbiology journal mBio. This is what they had to say: “There was a significant protective effect against arsenic and mercury in pregnant women and reduction in these compounds in the mothers could presumably decrease negative developmental effects in their foetus and newborns.”

Mercury and arsenic are environmental pollutants that are found in many food items, especially seafood, chicken, rice and also in drinking water. You don’t need to live in Africa to accumulate toxic levels of these metals in your body. I regularly see elevated levels in blood or urine tests in my patients, particularly those who eat a lot of seafood, and people with mercury amalgam fillings in their teeth. The oceans of most parts of the world are so heavily polluted now. It is best to vary your dietary sources of protein, so that you don’t accumulate too much of anyone contaminant – try to get protein from foods such as eggs, poultry, grass fed meat, nuts, yoghurt and cheese (if you can tolerate it).

It is also very important to make sure you get probiotics into your diet somehow. Some varieties of yoghurt contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and it is found in much higher quantities in many probiotic supplements.

Gut health problems are extremely common. Irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, constipation, bloating and diarrhoea are all associated with an imbalance in gut bugs. Comprehensive stool tests are now available, and patients with one of those conditions are typically missing several important strains of good gut bugs. Stress, poor sleep, a high sugar diet and infrequent bowel motions can cause overgrowth of harmful gut bugs, which crowd out good bugs. The following strategies may be helpful:

  • Ultimate Gut Health powder provides nourishing and healing amino acids, fibres and a live probiotic. This formula helps repair and strengthen the gut lining and improves microbial composition in the gut.
  • BactoClear capsules are excellent for helping with abdominal bloating and medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. They contain the essential oils of oregano, clove and thyme, as well as berberine.
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