Once lead gets into your body, it accumulates there for years and years, causing all sorts of serious trouble for your nervous system and brain. Even small amounts every week can add up to a lot by the time you're an adult! Did you know chocolate has lead in it?
Back in the days of the Roman empire, people used lead for drinking pitchers, in their water aqueducts, and for many other situations that let it touch food. The result was that many people ended up with lead poisoning.
In modern times we are much wiser about lead - but it still exists in our world. Look at the fine glassware we drink from - it's lead crystal! Lead gives it that nice shine. The theory is that the wine is only in there for short periods of time, and not stored in it for days or weeks.
Even chocolate has small amounts of lead in it. It comes not from the bean plant, nor from pesticides. Rather, it comes from the standard manufacturing equipment they use to turn the cocoa into cocoa powder, and it is in all chocolate. If you have just one chocolate each Valentine's Day it probably doesn't matter - but if you're eating it regularly, it will add up.
In any building including homes, water going through pipes will leach lead from the pipe walls. Even "lead free" pipes have a low amount of lead in them. Hot water leaches more than cold water, so always use cold water for any food purposes and then filter it. If you boil your water, you only make the lead issue worse, because some of the water evaporates, meaning now you have more lead per quart. Lead does not evaporate :)
Be optimistic, though. Back in the "old days" gasoline had lead in it, paint had lead in it, and we all breathed it in from car exhaust. We are much better off in modern times! Still, it's good to be as low-lead as possible.
What does Lead Damage?
Lead is best known for its serious damage to the brain and nervous system. Lead harms other parts of your body as well. It hurts your digestion, your blood, and your kidneys.
Signs of Lead Poisoning
Doctors can of course test you for lead poisoning. Some of the beginning signs are fatigue, trouble sleeping, an upset stomach, headaches, and irritability.
Lead and Birth Defects / Children
Lead moves very easily from the mother's body through the placenta into the growing fetus. It can cause numerous problems including spontaneous abortion, brain damage and developmental issues. Children can develop learning disorders.
Removing Lead from your Body
The medical method of removing lead is called chelation. In essence a chelating agent is added into the person's blood - and once there, it connects in with the lead like a magnet. The combination of agent+lead is then caught up by the liver or kidney and flushed naturally out of your system.
It appears that people who are low in calcium, iron and zinc then absorb lead more quickly than normal. The thought is that the "open spots" in your body that are left open by those three minerals are then grabbed onto by the lead. Make sure you take your daily multivitamins!
Other vitamins which help keep your body safe from lead are C, E, and B1.
Also, lead absorbs more quickly if your stomach is empty. I'm not saying to eat food 24 hours a day - but don't have a meal system that involves 2 or 3 giant meals and nothing in between. Instead, eat small, regular healthy meals and snacks. This ensures your blood sugar levels are even and your lead absorption stays low.
If you have lead in your system already, and do not want to have a proper doctor chelation, first I really have to suggest that you do. Lead is a very serious issue and should be taken seriously. Talk with your doctor about all of your options. However, while you wait for your appointment, I suggest adding cilantro and garlic to your diet. Both have been shown to have some effect on existing lead levels in your body.
Note that I've looked for "home lead blood tests" and can't seem to find any. So you'll have to talk with your doctor or clinic to have one done. It could be well worth it!
March of Dimes and Lead Exposure