Gut health is the root cause of many health conditions and symptoms. By learning how heavy metal toxicity can impact gut health, and what to do about it, you can improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of Heavy Metal Exposure

If you are struggling with gut health, it might be worth considering heavy metal exposure as a root cause as symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can be very similar to some of the systematic gut symptoms you may be facing. Below are common symptoms of heavy metal exposure:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive problems (bloating, change in bowel habits, indigestion)
  • Hormonal issues (amenorrhea, irregular cycles, sex hormone imbalances)
  • Autoimmune disease

Most of these symptoms are very vague and do not seem to be directly tied to the gut. However, the gut can impact overall bodily function due to the interconnectivity of the body, which is why it is important to understand how heavy metals impact the gut and consequent symptoms.

Heavy Metals and the Gut Lining

Heavy metals can impact gut health by irritating the gut lining. This is because one of the primary ways our body tries to process heavy metals is through the gut lining. However, as the gut has developed to optimize the digestion of food and not heavy metals, these toxins irritate the sensitive gut lining. This gut irritation can then lead to gut inflammation. Both gut irritation and inflammation are precursors to the development of leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome, or intestinal permeability, occurs when the junctions that hold the cells of your intestine wall lose their connectivity, allowing for unwanted toxins, antigens, bacteria, etc. to pass through the intestinal barrier and enter the bloodstream. If left untreated, this can cascade into systemic inflammation a host of other health issues stemming from poor gut health. Learn more about leaky gut and its symptoms.

Heavy Metals and the Gut Microbiome

One of the main ways heavy metals impact gut health is through the gut microbiome. The microbiome is a collection of bacteria in the large intestine that support digestion as well as many other aspects of the body such as immune health, heart health, brain health and more.

When heavy metals accumulate in the gut over an extended period of time, it can negatively alter several different kinds of beneficial bacteria. Studies have shown that lead and cadmium most severely alter the microbiome, but all heavy metals can to some degree. When gut bacteria are not as robust as they normally are, it will lead to an imbalance in the microbiome, allowing for pathogenic species to take over. Once there is a bacterial infection of the gut, it can cause many digestive and systematic issues.

Heavy Metals and Autoimmune Diseases

Heavy metal exposure can be a triggering factor for those with a genetic predisposition to gut-related autoimmune diseases. More specifically, heavy metal accumulation has been associated with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, two common forms of large-intestine mediated Autoimmune Disease.

Therefore, if you or anyone in your family has either of these conditions, it is important to test your heavy metal levels, as it might be what’s keeping you from healing your gut.

Healing Your Gut

Healing your gut from heavy metal exposure is not going to be an overnight fix, but rather a process.

First, you will need to identify how you are getting exposed to heavy metals. Common methods of heavy metal exposure include:

  • Air or water pollution
  • Food additives
  • Medicines
  • Improperly coated food containers
  • Deodorant
  • Cosmetic products

It is important to be aware of what you are around from day-to-day and if long term exposure to any of your household products can cause problems over time. It is advisable to work with a trusted practitioner who can walk you through heavy metal testing and determine what metals you need to get rid of.

Diet and supplementation are also huge components of healing your gut from heavy metal exposure or accumulation. Below are foods that support your body’s detoxification process as well as help heal your gut:

  • Beets
  • Turmeric
  • Garlic
  • Dandelion greens
  • Green tea
  • Ginger
  • Citrus
  • Broccoli

Below are some recommendations for supplements that support detoxification and gut health, but as everyone’s needs may be different it is important to speak with your doctor before beginning supplementation:

Final Thought

The impact heavy metals can have on the gut can be overwhelming and make you feel out of control of your body and health. At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to utilize cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to uncover and address both heavy metal toxicity and overall gut health. Call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you address the underlying cause of your autoimmune disease.

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