Flint, Michigan. January 2016.
The marking of the year and month when many were stunned, and some horrified to learn, without doubt, that approximately 100,000 people in Flint, Michigan had been drinking, bathing, and cooking with water contaminated with lead.
Flint demographics suggest there are approximately…
… 8,200 children under 5 years old now at risk of lead poisoning as a result of drinking water in the City of Flint.
… 23,000-24,000 young people under the age of 18 at risk for lead toxicity.
… 20,000 females in child bearing years at risk of passing on dangerous effects of lead tainted water to their unborn children.
Is there concern for the other residents? You better believe it! No amount of lead is safe for anybody!
The CDC revised their guidelines and advised in 2012 that any child with more than 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood be considered at risk. The risk? Adverse health effects in behavior, attention, academic achievement, and extending ‘beyond cognitive function to include cardiovascular, immunological, and endocrine effects.’
Am I the only one wanting to scream, “GET THE LEAD OUT!”?
No time should be wasted in decreasing lead’s looming and harmful effects.
While there are hopefully existing efforts to decrease the blood lead levels in Flint’s residents, and reduce lead’s effects, there are noteworthy nutritional changes that may help any body excrete lead. Nutritional intervention hasn’t produced enough evidence for all scientists, but there has been considerable progress. Even the CDC encourages nutritional recommendations for children with elevated blood lead levels.
I AM NOT A DOCTOR. ( Always consult with your doctor!)
I AM NOT A HEALTH PRACTITIONER.
I AM NOT A MEDICAL RESEARCHER BY VOCATION.
I am concerned about getting the lead out!
Lead not absorbed by the body is excreted through feces, urine, and sweat (lead excretion takes place in similar concentration levels in urine and in sweat).
Chelation therapy, a medically supervised intervention, draws metals out of the body so they are excreted. It has been considered the primary treatment method, particularly for individuals with dangerously high blood lead levels.
Yet, research is rising about natural chelators that are more gentle in drawing metals out of the body.
Known natural chelators of lead are …
How do we access those natural chelators?
If you answered food and vitamin supplements you are correct!
Did you know?
Most children’s vitamins contain the above listed natural chelators of lead in their ingredients!
Could it be said that children who take a daily multi-vitamin have a better chance of drawing lead out of their body and excreting lead, than children who don’t take a daily multi-vitamin?
Foods containing the highest levels of these vitamins include:
Guavas, kiwi, strawberries and oranges (Vitamin C).
Sunflower seeds, almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards, and swiss chard (Vitamin E).
Sunflower seeds, navy and black beans, lentils and peas (B1-Thiamin).
Lentils, beans, spinach and broccoli (Vitamin B9).
Beef or chicken livers, clams, oysters, and enriched breakfast cereals (Iron).
(There are plenty other foods high in vitamins C, E, thiamin, folate, and iron.)
Other foods and spices considered to be natural chelators include: onions, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar and cilantro.
Cilantro, also known as coriander and chinese parsley, has been involved in double blind placebo studies, showing phenomenal lead excretion results when combined with Chlorella, a fresh water algae. Some suggest the simple habit of adding cilantro leaves into a tossed salad helps decrease lead toxicity.
One study produced somewhat discouraging results for researchers when the cilantro (used alone) and the placebo showed similar lead excretion results in urine– attributed to benefits of a better diet.
Remembering that no blood levels of lead are good for anyone, could it be said that children who eat meals high in natural chelators have an advantage toward drawing out and excreting lead over children who don’t eat foods known to chelate lead? Could the same be said for adults?
Could education about, access to, and consumption of more foods and meals that naturally chelate lead make a difference for people with lead in their blood?
How would we know if this works?
The CDC recommends follow up testing on children under 5 years of age in intervals of every three to four months if they test positive for lead in their blood.
An initial blood screening and follow up screenings will help determine if eating meals involving natural chelators plus taking a daily multi-vitamin with known lead chelators makes a difference for countless children, especially those in Flint.
(Since one medically supervised chelation therapy study was followed for four years, a lifestyle change of this sort would best be examined with at least a decade of study. Of course no one would suggest a placebo group for ethical reasons, so historical cases of past interventions would have to suffice in comparison.)
For many reasons, medically supervised chelation therapy is usually reserved for people with dangerously high levels of lead in their blood. No blood level of lead is safe for a child under 5yrs of age.
On the other hand, a meal of a tossed salad with cilantro, black beans, tomatoes, and chicken, served with a kiwi and strawberry fruit salad on the side contains 7 food elements known to be high in vitamins that chelate lead and could be eaten by anyone, of any age, regardless of their blood lead level.
A bran cereal breakfast also served with a cup of orange juice contains a generous amount of three to five vitamins known as lead chelators and a dinner of beans and rice served with orange juice does too!
Only the highest lead levels are targeted for treatment, therefore, many children endure the harsh effects of lead without treatment. Lead stored in the body causes damage. In adults, lead can cause high blood pressure.
What if food choices and vitamins that naturally chelate lead slowly and consistently draw out lead and help promote its excretion? Could this slow some of the damage from lead?
Whatever is done, Flint’s children will need comprehensive and supportive systems for many years to come as their bodies adjust to the effects of toxic water.
For the sake of our future generations, I pray government and citizenry alike do all we can and get the lead out!
IMPORTANT: As always, everyone should consult their doctor BEFORE making any diet or supplement changes for themselves or for their child.