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Arsenic, which is a silent killer, has become a heavy metal concern as of late with high levels showing up in supplies of rice and apple juice. While arsenic contamination of soil and water is largely due to volcanic eruptions and soil erosion, arsenic is also used in many insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and numerous medicines – all of which can find their way into the water supply and soil. (1)
In 2006, the FDA lowered the limit for the amount of arsenic allowed in water from 50 ppb (parts per billion) to be no more that 10ug/L, which is 10 ppb. The FDA has not yet set a limit for arsenic in foods, so the amount of arsenic in your rice or other foods is simply not regulated. (2)
A patient of mine contacted me who become ill due to high levels of arsenic in her blood. She was intolerant to dairy, so she had switched to rice milk and rice protein supplements. Arsenic is absorbed through the small intestines, where it disrupts more than 200 enzymatic pathways involved in DNA protection and synthesis. As a result, it can cause a host of ailments ranging from digestive disorders to fatigue and environmental sensitivity. (3)
My patient took it upon herself to get her rice protein powder and rice milk tested for arsenic levels. What she found was surprising!
- EPA, FDA accepted limit: 10 ppb
- Non-Organic Rice Milk: 111 ppb
- Organic Rice Milk: 56 ppb
- Rice Protein Powder: 24 ppb
The legal limit set by the FDA and the EPA is 10 ppb. These numbers are 2-11 times the legal limit! I was so concerned about this that we had the rice in our LifeSpa kitchari packets tested, and thankfully, our numbers were just 6 ppb – well below the legal limit.
According to my research, Indian basmati rice and jasmine rice had the lowest arsenic levels (2), and here in the U.S., Lundberg farms consistently had levels below the EPA and FDA standards. Brown rice, because the arsenic tends to store in the husk, regularly has higher arsenic levels, although Lundberg brown rice was OK.
Unfortunately, high levels of arsenic were found in many other foods including apple, grape, and citrus juices, milk, red wine, chicken and beef broth, rice syrup and other foods (2,4), making arsenic exposure quite ubiquitous. While there is still much confusion around how much heavy exposure to heavy metals like arsenic are safe, it is very clear that we are being exposed to more than is recognized as safe according to the EPA and FDA.
Thankfully, in nature there are foods that naturally chelate (pull) heavy meals out of the body. Garlic, chlorella and cilantro are classic food-based chelators of heavy metals from the body. Herbs like shilajit, (ALA) Alpha-lipoic acid (from citrus fruits) N-Acetyl cysteine (NAC) and the amino acid EDTA are even more powerful chelators. (5-36)
Natural Heavy Metal Detoxifiers (6-36)
- ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid)
- NAC (N-acetyl cysteine)
Based on the growing amount of evidence that we do, in fact, carry these heavy metals in our cells for years, it is important to detoxify these on a regular basis. This can be accomplished 3 ways:
- Reboot your natural digestive and detox strength. Learn more here.
- Regularly cleanse with ghee and kitchari, as in the Colorado Cleanse or Short Home Cleanse. Studies suggest that ghee is an effective chelator for heavy metals and toxic chemicals. (37) For best results, cleanse twice a year.
- Chelate the body with chelation herbs and foods as described above at least once every 2 years for 1-2 months. (5-36) Whenever using herbal chelators, always supplement with a highly absorbable mineral supplement to ensure mineral replenishment.