It has become clear to anyone paying attention that we have a slight mercury problem in modern society. This heavy metal is a proven neurotoxin, yet still manages to find its way into the human body in higher and higher amounts. With new research showing that toxins can pass down three generations, we really have no idea how big a problem this could be down the road.
Fish and dental fillings have been fingered as two of the main culprits. Luckily for us, as mercury enters the body from these two sources, both of them pass down the alimentary canal and therefore access the human body’s most effective weapon against harmful toxins. This weapon is so secret that up until last year we didn't know it existed, never mind that it is actually not strictly human.
This weapon has a name, and it’s called our microbiome.
For those not in the know, the human microbiome refers to the trillions of mostly helpful bacteria that live on and around us at all times. Their main functions support our digestion, immunity and metabolism. We can’t live without them, nor they without us.
More than 99% of them are mutually beneficial, and recent studies have shown that among their many valuable synergistic actions within the body, these microbes are responsible for between 50% and 90% of mercury detoxification through the feces. Amazing, right?
The studies go on to show that it's only when the layer of microbes that coats the inner wall of the gut gets disturbed (or wiped out) that heavy metals can actually have a negative effect on function. When intact, the microbiome provides protection for the lining of gut, explaining why some people can tolerate this kind of regular mercury intake, and others struggle.
So, although avoiding the metals altogether is likely a solid strategy, it's comforting to know that when metals come down our alimentary canal, we have an awesome team working on our behalf!
Below are some tips for keeping a strong internal microbiome, but also remember that there are ways mercury gets into the body without coming down the gut, through the lungs and through injections (seasonal flu vaccines, among others, still contain mercury-based preservatives).
1. Antibiotics only in emergency!
2. Take your probiotics and eat probiotic foods.
3. Open a window or get outside
4. Rid your house of triclosan soap.
5. Pick and eat your boogers throughout childhood!