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Does Your Body Have Toxic Levels of Arsenic?

What do you think of when you hear the word arsenic? Fatal images of skull and cross bones or 17th century poisonings? Today, arsenic is no longer just a story from history and can be found in everything from the air we breathe to the foods we eat and drink.

Arsenic is an abundant natural element that can be found in soil, minerals, rocks, volcanic eruptions as well as mines and ores. Additionally, chemical compounds containing arsenic have been created to preserve wood and for use as pesticides. These inorganic chemical forms of arsenic have been linked with long term health effects. However, both forms of arsenic have been found in soil and ground water for many years and that is why it may be found in certain food and beverage products including grains, fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, juice concentrates, baby formula, and some seafood.

The arsenic found in grains, fruit, and vegetables is due to the absorption from soil and water. Plants absorb arsenic regardless of the growing method so unfortunately crops will still have traces of arsenic even if they were not conventionally farmed.  One crop that absorbs arsenic more readily than other grains is rice. This is due to the fact that it is essentially grown in water. While we all know that brown rice is healthier than white, unfortunately brown rice will tend to have higher levels of arsenic because it contains the germ within the grain.

Animals that we consume can also contain arsenic. It was recently discovered that animal feed was being enhanced with an arsenic based drugs to promote growth and give meat that pretty pink color. Roxarsone, was one of the drugs that was studied ad showed higher levels of carcinogens. According to a study by the Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), the highest levels were found in conventional cooked chicken and lowest in USDA organic certified cooked chicken meat. One more reason to go organic!

Exposure to arsenic can have a myriad of negative health effects. Long-term exposure to high levels of this chemical are associated with higher rates of skin cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer as well as heart disease. Researchers at Dartmouth University found that long-term exposure to even low doses may change how cells communicate and reduce their ability to function.

A 2012 study by Consumer Reports found the following products to contain levels of 50% or more of inorganic arsenic:

Rice:

365 everyday Value Long Grain Brown (Whole Foods)

365 everyday Value Organic Indian Basmati White (Whole Foods)

365 everyday Value Organic Thai Jasmine White (Whole Foods)

Archer Farms Organic Basmati (Target)

Archer Farms Organic Jasmine (Target)

Carolina Jasmine Enriched Thai Fragrant Long Grain

carolina Whole Grain Brown

Della Basmati White

Doguet’s Enriched Long Grain

Goya Enriched Medium Grain

Great Value Brown (Walmart)

Great Value Parboiled (Walmart)

Jazzmen Louisiana Aromatic Brown

Lundberg California White Basmati

Lundberg Short Grain Brown

Mahatma Extra Long Grain Enriched

Market Pantry Enriched Long Grain White (Target)

Martin Long Grain Brown,Martin Long Grain Enriched

Rice Select Organic Texmati White

Texas Best Organics Long Grain Brown

Texas Best Organics Long Grain White

Trader Joe’s White Basmati From India

Uncle Ben’s Original Enriched

Parboiled Long Grain

Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown

Baby Cereal:

Beech-Nut Homestyle Rice

Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Rice

Gerber SmartNourish Organic Brown Rice

Hot Cereal:

Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Farina Creamy Rice,

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Rice Farina Creamy Rice

Cream of Rice

Ready-to-Eat Cereal:

Barbara’s Brown Rice Crisps

General Mills Rice Chex Gluten Free

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Gluten Free

Rice Cakes & Crackers:

Edward & Sons Organic Brown Rice Snaps Unsalted Plain

Lundberg Brown Rice Organic

Suzie’s Whole Grain Thin Cakes

Rice Pasta:

Annie Chun’s Maifun Rice Noodles

Rice Flour:

Arrowhead Mills Organic Brown

Rice Drinks:

Pacific Rice Low Fat Plain Beverage

Rice Dream Original Classic Rice Drink

Rice Syrup:

Lundberg Sweet Dreams Organic Brown

Lundberg Sweet Dreams Eco-Farmed Brown

Rice Vinegar:

Asian Gourmet-Plain

Whether it’s natural or chemical, one thing is for certain; too much arsenic is just not healthy. With no federal limit on arsenic in foods it is hard to know how much is being consumed in our diet and this is a cause for concern.

Are you concerned your body may have high levels of arsenic? A hair test is an easy and inexpensive way to find out your toxic burden. If your levels are high, we recommend making the below changes:

  • Switch different grains out for rice
  • Avoid products with brown rice or brown rice syrup
  • Avoid juice products from foreign countries
  • Do not give children rice milk
  • Limit your intake of processed foods
  • Eat pesticide free produce
  • Avoid products grown in the Southeast where farmers may have used arsenic-based pesticides to grow cotton before they started growing grains such as rice

Additionally, there are many great nutrients and herbs that help to naturally detoxify the body and pull our arsenic and other metals safely and effectively. Methyl donors such as  L-5 MTHF (methytetrahydrofolate) which is an activated folic acid is extremely helpful and liver/kidney cleanses such as the SP Cleanse and Core Restore are 2 other great options. If you would like more information or to get a hair test and detoxification recommendations, please contact our office and we will be glad to help!

By Jeanette Kimszal

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