Heavy metals and your health
Heavy metals, toxic elements, will be with us for a long time (forever) to come. These heavy metals like one of their names implies are toxic to the body. They bind to the tissues of the body and cause damage by oxidative stress (this is similar to damage caused by free radicals).
In the adult, they affect mainly the cardiovascular system (the heart, the blood and the blood vessels), the kidneys and the brain with the nerves. In children, heavy metals can cause lifelong physical, intellectual and behavioural impairments. A condition known as autism in children has been linked to heavy metal toxicity.
Sources of these heavy metals are all around us.
Elements referred to as heavy metals are such elements as mercury, lead, aluminium, arsenic, cadmium etc.
Sources of these elements include sea foods such as fish from seas and oceans, oysters, crab and shrimp. The ocean, seas and rivers are heavily contaminated with elements such as mercury and these will find their way into the sea foods that we eat. Primary and secondary cigarette smoke. Other sources are lead found in paints, leaded petrol and old drinking water supply pipes. Also, there are emissions from industries and electricity generating plants. The use of aluminium cooking pots and chemicals in everyday products such as medicated soaps, cosmetics and vaccines, complete the sources of heavy metals.
GOD in all His knowledge and wisdom, knowing that human beings will tamper with nature to the extent of causing harm to themselves, put certain substances in food that He recommended for our good health. The main substance in these recommended foods is known as dietary fibre.
What first comes to mind when you hear the name, dietary fibre is, this is a fibrous kind of substance. The name is actually a misnomer in that this fibre has nothing to do with fibrous tissue.
Dietary fibre consists of nondigestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants.
Functional fibre consists of isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans.
Total fiber is the sum of both dietary and functional fibers.
The dietary fibre includes non-starch polysaccharides found in plants, such as cellulose, pectin, gum and hemicellulose. Others are fibre contained in oats and wheat bran, oligosaccharides, lignin and some resistant starch. There are some other nutrients in food that boost natural detoxification of the body; they also help to rid the body of toxic elements. Few of such nutrients are chlorella, sulfur containing peptides in foods of the allium family like garlic and those of the Brassicaceae family, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
There are two major types of fibre: soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre can dissolve in water and in the fats found in the cell membranes. Soluble fibre can also be absorbed through the intestines into the blood circulation. In the blood circulation, it binds to the heavy metals by a process known as chelation and renders them excretable through the kidney. The fibre that is soluble in fats passes through the cell membranes into the cells where they bind to heavy metals that may have found their way into the cells. Fat-soluble fibre, function predominantly the liver where they promote excretion of toxic metals through the bile.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water or fats. It is metabolically inert and provides what is known as bulking. In bulking, this fibre absorbs water throughout the length of the digestive tract. This produces two distinct and important effects. Firstly, they increase the bulk of the stools and secondly, they speed up the passage time of food through the intestines.
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