Wellness

The “weight” of lead in food

Written by Veronica Lavenia

When the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, in the famous essay “The mystery of sacrifice or man is what he eats”, wrote the phrase: “Man is what he eats”, the meaning attributed to his observation was very different from the merely propaganda that we give today.

“Food theory is of great ethical and political importance. Food turns into blood, blood into heart and brain; in matters of thoughts and feelings. Human food is the foundation of culture and sentiment. If you want to improve the people, instead of ranting against sin, give them better nutrition. Man is what he eats”.

Feubarch’s message leaves no room for misunderstanding: to improve the spiritual conditions of people, it is necessary, first of all, to improve their material conditions. This statement derives from the German philosopher’s theory that there is a correlation between psyche and body, from which it is clear that to think better we must feed ourselves adequately.
A very current theory in a world where there is still an increasingly evident inequality between the opulence of a part of humanity and the misery of millions of people (690 million people suffered from hunger in 2019. FAO data).

Today, this statement can also have another key to interpretation, equally powerful, by virtue of pollution that, in every area, causes deaths and the onset of serious diseases: what you eat can make a difference to health.

In recent decades, organic production has gained significant acclaim and is an investment that is involving more and more companies and affecting many consumers. However, the disposal of waste, the use of fertilizers and other sources of pollution are the cause of dispersion in the environment, especially in the soil, of heavy metals and other contaminants, so if the soil is not organic first it is worth not using pesticides for cultivation.

Among the potentially dangerous elements for health, heavy metals stand out, present in the soil, water and, consequently, in food (but also in clothing and cosmetics). In particular, lead is the most common and is absorbed through the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.
An EU-funded study found that lead particles may have increased cloud formation. The researchers, in an article published in “Nature Geoscience”, suggest that lead air pollution may have stemmed the effects of climate change over the past few decades.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has defined inorganic lead among the probable human carcinogens. For this reason, it has been removed from gasoline, paints and enamels in both Europe and North America.
However, being present in nature, like other heavy metals, it is possible to find traces of lead also in foods, especially those for children.

Lead in children’s nutrition:

Scientific studies have confirmed that in children the intestinal absorption of lead is five to ten times greater than that of adults and that it increases if there are deficiencies of calcium, iron and zinc.
Children are particularly exposed through food, as the Environmental Defense Fund has shown, analyzing data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Agency for Food and Medicines. Over 1 million young children consume more lead than the FDA admits.
The UNICEF report “The Toxic Truth” confirms that one in three children in the world is affected by lead poisoning.
Also in this case there is a clear disparity between the children of the opulent countries and the children of the poorest countries. The latter are most affected. In high-income countries, over the years, important measures have been taken to limit the use of lead. Since the adoption of “green” petrol, emissions have decreased significantly.
Yet, it is still possible to ingest harmful amounts found in some baby foods, according to the study done in the United States. 95% of food would be at risk due to the lack of controls by companies before placing the products on the market. The foods under accusation are those based on rice, fruit juices, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Lead in food:

Scientific studies have found that the highest presence of lead in Europe is present in fish products. The aquifers are responsible for the presence of this metal not only in fish but also in cereals, fruit and vegetables, especially if not organic. Presence of lead is also found in baking powder and canned foods. A poorly varied diet, rich in foods in which the presence of lead is significant risks damaging the organisms over time, especially some parts where heavy metals accumulate. If mercury, for example, settles in the kidneys, lead prefers soft tissues.

How to cleanse your body from lead:

The Latins teach that virtue stands in the middle. Scientific studies are a reminder for those who have the power to protect our health and for companies to carry out the right checks on products. For consumers, all this is a further reminder to read the labels, carefully select the food, preferring, where possible, organic, biodynamic or sustainably cultivated foods. Virtue lies in between means that we should not eat fearfully but carefully, varying foods and limiting portions, always selecting what we think is best for us.

Heavy metals, including lead, are naturally present in nature, beyond the industry which then increased its presence. From the same nature, however, also come natural remedies such as turmeric, useful for purifying the blood and eliminating toxins and heavy metals from our body or garlic which, rich in sulfur, eliminates toxins, thanks to the presence of sulfur that makes some heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are water-soluble. Flax seeds, rich in Omega 3 and walnuts with their fatty acids that favor the formation of omega 3, help purify the body of heavy metals. Organic fruits and vegetables (therefore free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers) rich in antioxidants, are ideal allies for detoxifying the body.

Aloe vera, so powerful with its vitamins, minerals and amino acids to purify the body, is another ideal ally. Finally, extra virgin olive oil, an ally, as always, within a healthy diet, helps purify the body. 3/4 teaspoons a day are enough.

Don’t miss:

What to know about Heavy Metals

Suggested readings:

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo499
  2. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1570
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969705800439
  4. https://www.fda.gov/food/metals-and-your-food/lead-food-foodwares-and-dietary-supplements

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About the author

Veronica Lavenia

PhD (former University academic).
Italian based writer and magazine contributor.
Authors of six books (five cookbooks), some of her works have appeared in the most popular International food magazine, as "Vegetarian Living"; "Veggie Magazine"; "Lifestyle FOOD"; "Australian Good Food & Travel Guide; "Chickpea"; "Gluten free Heaven";" TML", among others.
Food Connoisseur.
EVOO Communicator.
Founder of #evoostories and #storiedievo at @veronicalavenia_
Founder of the EVOO Column at "The Wolf Post".
Translator at "The Wolf Post".