(Isabelle Z.) Alzheimer’s disease might not strike fear in your mind the way cancer does, but it kills more people than prostate and breast cancer combined. It has become an epidemic, and scientists are still trying to decipher the exact mechanisms of the disease. One thing that is becoming increasingly apparent, however, is the role that heavy metal toxicity plays.

In the past, genetics shouldered most of the blame for Alzheimer’s, but that did little to explain certain aspects of the illness, like the unprecedented rise in cases. There had to be something else at play, and researchers found another culprit in 2017: environmental toxins.

Since then, study after study has demonstrated a link between the heavy metals we are exposed to in the environment and Alzheimer’s. For example, a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that people with the illness have significantly higher amounts of mercury, cadmium and aluminum in their body than their peers without Alzheimer’s.

Part of the problem is that heavy metals actually accumulate within your organs, and that includes your brain. Your exposure might be sporadic – a little bit here and there – but it adds up over your lifetime to create toxic levels.

As these metals build up in your brain, they can cause DNA damage, cell death, protein misfolding, mitochondrial problems, and oxidative stress. This can lead to not just brain diseases like Alzheimer’s but also movement and cognitive problems and lower brain function.

Keeping your risk of Alzheimer’s down

Now that you understand how dangerous heavy metals can be for your brain, you might be wondering what you can do to keep your exposure down. Here are some steps you can take right away to minimize your risk, according to Waking Times.

First up is drinking water as this is something that can have quite a dramatic impact on your heavy metal exposure given how much water you drink in a day. Water is often contaminated with metals like arsenic, lead and cadmium, so it’s time to invest in some high-quality filters that will remove these contaminants.

Another big means of exposure for many people is related to their kitchen habits, especially when it comes to aluminum. Avoid buying food that comes in aluminum cans or packaging. Never use aluminum pans or bakeware, and don’t wrap food in aluminum foil to cook it because the aluminum will transfer to your food during cooking and then leech into your body when you eat it.

There is another potential avenue of heavy metal contamination in your kitchen in the form of powdered spices. The low-quality varieties often contain heavy metals, so make sure you opt for organic fresh herbs or the organic powdered variety whenever possible. Aluminum can also be found in some brands of baking powder, flour, and anti-caking agents.

Moving on to the living room and bedroom, you’ll want to ensure your furniture was not made with fire retardants or other finishes that have heavy metals like cadmium or antimony in them; contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure. For future mattress and furniture purchases, make a point of inquiring about brands that don’t use toxic chemicals.

Finally, don’t forget the bathroom. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, aluminum can be found in antacids, buffered aspirin, deodorants and vaccines.

There isn’t much you can do about the genetic component of Alzheimer’s, but you could well make some serious inroads when it comes to lowering your risk of the disease by minimizing your exposure to toxic heavy metals.

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