Excessive anti-nutrients – substances that prevent nutrients from being used, or promote their excretion – can lead to many health problems.
We need to protect ourselves from the effects of a vast array of chemicals in our modern lifestyle, and eating a good diet is an effective way to do this.
Toxins accumulate in fatty tissues and may cause chronic health problems if the body’s ability to detoxify itself reaches saturation level.
You are recommended to have a hair mineral analysis (HMA) to evaluate your toxin levels, should it be felt that circumstances in your work or lifestyle have exposed you to this natural element of risk. With our modern exposure to chemicals, this applies to almost everyone.
In this article I’ll focus on just one of the toxic levels an analysis would reveal, the problems this can be linked to and steps you might take to reduce the levels.
If you have a disease or illness, which has not responded to conventional treatment, you may wish to explore other possibilities and an HMA is an excellent place to start. Sufferers of ‘unexplained’ problems such as headaches, backaches, weakness or tremors, can usefully undergo an HMA to detect any abnormal levels of toxins.
One of the most important sections of the HMA results is the part telling you about levels of toxic minerals, or anti-nutrients. If toxic minerals are found to be in excess, there are many ways in which a nutritional approach can help.
One mineral which may be raised is copper. Now although high levels of copper have been linked to problems, it must be remembered that copper is actually essential to us.
What are the functions of copper? Here are some of the bodily functions, for which copper is important: formation of red blood cells, connective tissue, skin and hair pigments, cholesterol regulation, enzyme production, energy usage and in the correct functioning of the nervous system.
When might problems arise? Although copper is essential for health, too high or too low levels can cause problems. Continually high levels may be associated with depression, irritability, nervousness, anxiety, phobias, irritability and joint or muscle pains. Copper levels will rise naturally during pregnancy, with use of certain IUDs or when taking the Pill. Levels may also be too high as a result of a vitamin C or B3 deficiency. Copper fights against zinc and inhibits the absorption of iron, both of which are essential minerals – particularly so during pregnancy. Ceruloplasmin, the copper-containing protein, is produced faster in the presence of estrogen and any biological state which increases copper levels is likely to increase the need for vitamin C as high levels of copper have been found to destroy vitamin C. If you have an unusually high reading of copper on a hair mineral analysis, this could be caused by permed hair.
Copper deficiency symptoms include: anemia, blood vessel hemorrhage, hypothermia, depigmentation of the skin. Some people suffer phobias and compulsions due to the high level of histamine, exacerbated by a low copper level. Copper inactivates histamine, so other people may have high levels of copper but low levels of histamine, experiencing paranoia and hallucinations. If the copper/histamine balance is causing a problem, see the section on balancing levels of copper.
What are the sources of copper? Dietary sources of copper include avocado pears, liver, molasses, nuts, olives, pulses, shellfish, sunflower seeds and whole-grains. Other sources include water pipes (watch for blue stains in the sink), copper pans, processed food and pesticide or fungicide residues on non-organically grown produce. Copper bracelets, often used to help rheumatism, are thought to result in copper being absorbed through the skin. This may be helpful or not, depending on your hair mineral analysis result.
Can you correct the level of copper in your body? Calcium and zinc reduce levels of copper – which is good if you have an excess, but not if you have a deficiency. In either case, check whether your multi-mineral includes or excludes copper. If it excludes copper and you have a deficiency, the calcium and zinc in your supplement may be worsening the deficiency so you should switch to one that includes copper. Other ways to increase your copper levels are eating plenty of the foods listed above and wearing a copper bracelet.
The first priority, if you have a problem with excess copper, is to avoid as many as possible of the sources above. If you do need to reduce copper levels, eat plenty of the foods which contain calcium and zinc: leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, Brewer’s Yeast and seafoods. Fiber and pectin (a soluble form of fiber found in carrots, apples, the pith of citrus fruits and bananas) help remove toxic metals from the body, as do foods which include sulphur containing amino acids (the building blocks for protein). Onions, garlic and eggs are others. It is strongly recommended to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables incorporating vitamin C.
Finally, if a Hair Mineral Analysis shows an excess or imbalance of copper, the recommended supplement program that comes with your report, will be designed to correct the imbalance.