Foods and Probiotics that Protect Against Lead and Mercury

  • by Nils Osmar. Feb. 23, 2024
  • This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. See full Medical Disclaimer

According to this study, some specific probiotics appear to protect against lead and mercury toxicity in the body. Supplements containing vitamin C, vitamin E, garlic, ginger, onion, and green tea also showed some protective effects.

I found the information about the protective effects of some of the probiotics to be particularly interesting:

From the study:

Our work has demonstrated that two lactobacilli strains exhibit protective effects against Cd and Pb toxicity in mice. L. plantarum CCFM8610, a probiotic with a good Cd binding capacity, is able to protect mice from acute and chronic Cd toxicity via its intestinal sequestration and antioxidant effects [119,120].

The oral administration of this strain effectively decreased intestinal Cd absorption, reduced Cd accumulation in tissue, alleviated tissue oxidative stress, reversed hepatic and renal damage, and ameliorated the corresponding histopathological changes of Cd-exposed mice. L. plantarum CCFM8661 protects against Pb toxicity by recovering the blood ALAD activity, decreasing the Pb levels in the blood and tissues and preventing Pb-induced oxidative stress [121].

Several recent reports confirmed that other probiotics may also be protective against heavy metal toxicity. A mixture of L. rhamnosus Rosell-11, L. acidophilus Rosell-52 and B. longum Rosell-175 significantly reduced Cd-induced genotoxicity both in vitro using liver tissue culture and in rats [122].

Another study investigated the potential of L. rhamnosus GR-1 supplemented yogurt to lower heavy metal levels in at-risk populations of pregnant women and in children in Tanzania [123].

Their results showed that blood levels of mercury and arsenic of pregnant women increased in the control groups (p < 0.05) but remained stable in the probiotic group, indicating a protective effect of L. rhamnosus GR-1 consumption. This means that with confirmed protection against heavy metal toxicity in animal studies, probiotics also have the potential to prevent or treat heavy metal toxicity in humans.

What I’m doing:

  • I try to avoid heavy metal contamination as much as possible; for example, I stopped taking green powders after evidence that many of them are badly contaminated.
  • I try to eat some sulfur-rich foods (such as egg yolks, onion and garlic) and selenium-rich foods daily, because of evidence that sulfur and selenium (together) help chelate contaminants from the body.
  • I eat lots of organic, unsweetened kefir and yogurt with live cultures to get a wide array of probiotics in my diet, and eat raw cultured sauerkraut and kimchi, and also make my own yogurt(s) from capsules containing L. gasseri, L. reuteri ATCC PTA 6475, L. reuteri DSM 17938, L. plantarum, and other probiotics found to have specific anti-aging benefits and/or help prevent damage from contaminants. (What I’ve found most effective is to make the yogurts from organic half-and-half along with some inulin and two or three capsules of the probiotic, and culture it for 24-36 hours.)
  • I drink green tea now and then, but actually prefer white tea, which is made from a younger version of the same plant. Drinking tea appears to be safe, but some green tea extract supplements have been found to cause liver damage.

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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