Some Toxic Metals – How to Identify and Avoid Them

The story is told of Jethro Kloss, the famous author of Back To Eden, coming home one day from the store with a shiny new set of aluminum cookware for his wife. He told her how the cookware was such a bargain at a very low price. Also, it was lightweight and heated very evenly. Of course, his wife was happy and resolved to use the cookware soon thereafter.

All was well until a subtle change began to come into the Kloss household. Jethro, the head of the house and long advocate of natural remedies, began to feel terrible, with all the symptoms of dyspepsia and general malaise. Also, he felt bedraggled and worn out with no energy. He couldn’t think of what the problem might be, and then he realized, “I’ve only begun to feel this way since I brought home that aluminum cookware!” Sure enough, steadfast Jethro decided to do an experiment with his aluminum cookware. He found that when food was left any length of time in those bright, shiny pots not only did the pans themselves become quite dark and discolored inside but the food spoiled. “It sure had the taste of yesterday’s newspaper,” exclaimed Jethro. As earnest Jethro continued his research into the aluminum question, he became more and more alarmed. “It seems that most people don’t know that they’re slowly being poisoned by that aluminum pot or pan that seems, on the surface, to be so economical and effective a way to cook.”

When a chemical analysis was done of food cooked in aluminum, it was found that the parts per million (p.p.m.) of aluminum were alarmingly high. It was found in an investigation done by the British Ministry of Health that “A concentration of 0.01 per cent of aluminum hinders plant growth, while 0.03 kills nearly all plants in water culture.” This report also stated that “alum salts are gastric irritants.” (1)

Here we come to some other famous aluminum products that Ellen G. White wrote about around 100 years ago – baking powder and baking soda. “The use of soda and baking powder in breadmaking is harmful and unnecessary. Soda causes inflammation of the stomach and often poisons the entire system. Many housewives think that they cannot make good bread without soda, but this is an error. If they would take the trouble to learn better methods, their bread would be more wholesome, and to a natural taste, it would be more palatable. (2)

As far as we can tell from the evidence left in the writings of Ellen G. White, she did not know the specific reason why baking powder and soda were so harmful; but she was certainly right on target when the rest of the “medicine men” of her day didn’t have the slightest idea that either one was harmful. Ellen G. White once said, “The whys and wherefores of this I cannot tell you but I give to you as is given to me.” We can surmise that the inspiration of the Lord was upon her in this subject as well, for she was definitely ahead of her time in recognizing the harmful effects of baking powder and soda.

In fact, to this day “modern medicine men” still prescribe the proverbial 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in water for upset stomach. But, again, what are the lasting results? Since the baking soda causes the stomach to contract, all the gas is expelled – but what are the side effects of the aluminum? Is it really a cure if there could be more long range negative effects than short term positive ones?

In Ellen G. White’s day, there were not many products that contained aluminum. The cookware was made of iron or ceramic. The time when progress (so-called) would bring aluminum into life for so many different processes and procedures was still future. Degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Cancer and Hodgkin’s Disease were not known as common occurrences as they are today.

“At Full Circle School for delinquent boys, we’ve analyzed hair for aluminum ever since the process became available in mid-1977. Every youth has had a higher-than-average hair aluminum level. These boys come mainly from the inner city’s lower socioeconomic classes. Aluminum cookware is cheap and therefore a probable source of exposure. Further, over the years they have drunk copious quantities of soda pop and beer in aluminum cans. Since the hair of many of the boys also show high levels of lead and copper and generally low levels of vitamins, it would be difficult to single out aluminum as the only cause of their behavior problems. Toxic metals often appear to interact synergistically, so that the combined effect of several heavy metals in the body is greater than the sum of the effects of each of the individual heavy metals. (3)

Aluminum and the Mind

Dr. L. Kopeloff reported in 1942 that trace amounts of aluminum applied to the surface of the brain in animals will initiate seizures or fits. Dr. I. Klatzo demonstrated that the injection of aluminum salts into the fluid surrounding the brain results in degenerative changes seen in some types of senile dementia. Other scientists have found that cats injected with aluminum are slow learners at experimental tasks. The level of aluminum in the cats’ brains is exactly the same as the high level which has been found in the brains of patients suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, one type of senility. Thus, aluminum may be a poison involved in human senility. (4)

The range of products containing aluminum in our modern society is quite large. It extends from personal care products like deodorants, antacids and make-up, to aluminum foil used to wrap foods and aluminum cans in which soda-pop and other drinks are sold. Aluminum is added to most salt to prevent it from caking.

“As in the case of the other heavy metals, the best means of protection is simply to avoid these sources. Concerned that excessive aluminum might lead to early senility, I read labels carefully. If aluminum is an ingredient, I don’t buy the product. Thus I avoid table salt which has aluminum in it. I wash often but don’t use deodorants (when the diet includes enough calcium and magnesium, body odor is usually eliminated anyway), and if my stomach is upset, I never take an antacid. Why should I eat aluminum, when a little milk will neutralize my stomach acidity just as well without adding to my aluminum burden?” (5)

For those of you wondering what a good substitute would be for leavening agents like baking powder or soda, you can use “Featherweight” brand baking powder (which uses potassium rather than aluminum), or some health food stores even have non-aluminum baking powders available in bulk now. If you absolutely can’t make it to a health food store, “Rumford Baking Powder” has a pretty high sodium content but has no aluminum products. Of course, the best kind of bread to buy or bake is the yeast raised type that will also give you the nutrients and enzymes found in the baker’s yeast.

Protection from Lead Poisoning

“With the advance of Western civilization have come new sources of lead exposure, also. The sealant used in tin cans (since 1824, widely since 1865), pewter, candy wrappings, toothpaste, cigarettes (since 1900), insecticides such as lead arsenate (since 1894), paint, bottled wines (since 1800), ceramics and kitchenware glazes, and scores of other elements of modern life all include the toxic metal, lead.” (6)

The first rule is to restrict your exposure to lead, of course. There are many sources which bring lead to us still today, even though some countries are restricting it, the most common being lead in plumbing and in some places, lead is still used to increase the octane of gasoline.

Live in the country, on the plains, in the mountains, or on the seashore. If you must live in a city, find a hillside where the cleansing winds blow freely. As Maimonides said, “The concern for clean air is the foremost rule in preserving the health of one’s body and soul.” According to Maimonides, the smoke and pollution of the city, even when it did not cause outright disease, affected the health of city dwellers; they became duller and morally less sensitive.

Low dietary intake of the essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, etc., increases the toxicity of lead and other toxic metals. Eating refined foods (white bread, white sugar) jeopardizes the body’s mineral supplies and allows the lead and other heavy metals present in the body to exert their toxic effects. Further, a body deficient in the normal minerals is more likely to absorb lead and other heavy metals. Consumption of coffee, tea, or alcohol and the use of diuretics promote the loss of minerals through the urine.

Saturating the body with normal minerals protects against pollution from lead or the other heavy metals. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are desirable because of their high mineral content.

Mineral supplements are helpful in avoiding lead toxicity, providing the supplements themselves are not contaminated with heavy metals. Dolomite may be hazardous in this regard, because it is mined in open-pit mines and is thus subject to atmospheric lead fall-out. Similarly, bone meal, another common mineral supplement, may be contaminated with lead, because lead is stored in the bones of the animals from which bone meal is manufactured. Dr. Richard Kunin describes a Los Angeles woman suffering from lead poisoning who was taking bone meal daily. The bone meal was discovered to have 128 ppm of lead; two tablespoons of bone meal would give her 4 to 5 mg. of lead daily. Brewer’s yeast, on the other hand, grown on uncontaminated cultures as a rule, provides a useful and inexpensive mineral supplement, as well as being 50% protein and rich in the B-vitamins. (7)

Another poisonous heavy metal that we should be on the lookout for is mercury. “Mercury compounds are added to cosmetics to destroy microbial contaminants. The FDA is concerned that mercury is able to penetrate the skin when cosmetics are applied and perhaps build up toxic levels in the liver and kidneys.” (8)

Balanced Health – through identifying and abstaining from other “problem foods”.

Each of us has a responsibility to reason from cause to effect and find what suits each one of us best, and yet there are some good general guidelines and specific counsel that need to be made a part of our life-style. In this lesson, we would also like to point out specific problems with salt, chemicals, condiments and excessive lipids or fats in the diet as well as the toxic metals we have already seen. There has been much concern in the last few years about the ill effects of our over-refined, over-stimulating and under-exercised way of life in North America; and these are three primary problem areas in striving for good health.

First, let’s look at the salt controversy. As most people know, some salt supplies a necessary nutrient, iodine. Many people are also aware of the potentially harmful effects of normal table salt because of its excessive sodium. Also, the inorganic nature of normal table salt, sodium chloride, should be noted, for inorganic substances are much harder for the body to assimilate. Of course, Ellen G. White had something to say covering both sides of the dilemma; and, far from being contradictory, these statements show an enlightened course and much insight.

“On my frequent journeys across the continent, I do not patronize restaurants, dining cars, or hotels, for the simple reason that I cannot eat the food there provided. The dishes are highly seasoned with salt and pepper, creating an almost intolerable thirst….They would irritate and inflame the delicate coating of the stomach…Such is the food that is commonly served upon fashionable tables, and given to children. Its effect is to cause nervousness and to create thirst which water does not quench…Food should be prepared in as simple a manner as possible, free from condiments and spices, and even from an undue amount of salt.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 340.

Ellen G. White goes on to say that the food should be relished – in other words, eaten with enjoyment. No drastic overnight changes in diet were encouraged, for this would be harmful to the individual’s system; and yet the step-by-step progression is shown to be ideal.

Today we know that natural sources of salt, such as kelp or sea salt, are better than the inorganic sodium chloride. The problem of assimilation is reduced when the salt comes from a natural source and is used sparingly. Here, the word “sparingly” is emphasized, because salt from any source is still very high in sodium.

“Sodium is closely associated with potassium and chlorine in many vital functions in the body. These three minerals are known to maintain proper electrolyte balance by changing into electrically charged ions which carry nerve impulses. They control and maintain osmotic pressure, which is responsible for the transportation of nutrients from the intestines into the blood. They are involved in keeping the body fluid at normal levels. Sodium is necessary for hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, and plays a part in many other glandular secretions.

Deficiency Symptoms. Deficiencies are rare, and may be caused by excessive sweating, prolonged use of diuretics or chronic diarrhea. Deficiency may cause nausea, muscular weakness, heat exhaustion, mental apathy, and respiratory failure. Oversupply of sodium is a more common problem because of overuse of dietary sodium chloride (common salt). Too much sodium may lead to water retention, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, stomach cancer, hardening of arteries and heart disease.” -Paavo Airola, How to Get Well, p. 276.

Chemicals – preservatives and additives

“Synthetic, denatured and devitalized foods will not sustain health, but will inevitably bring about a gradual degeneration of normal body functions and ultimately, disease…Your food should be grown without the aid of chemical fertilizers and should contain no residues of toxic insecticides, chemical additives or preservatives…Almost all food sold at supermarkets today contains some chemicals, either used in food producing or added during processing or packing…Avoid eating all processed and packaged foods, which contain the most chemicals.” -How to Get Well, pp. 188,189.

Read labels carefully and avoid all harmful chemicals, such as monosodium glutamate. Also, avoid foods with artificial flavorings and colorings and harmful preservatives, (especially sulfites, sulfates and anything with a number after its name – like polysorbate 80). The best foods you can buy are fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. Canned foods should be avoided as much as possible. Lead is often used in the canning process and gets into the food, and the food must be cooked at high temperatures to be preserved, removing most of the essential vitamins. Food in glass jars is far better, but raw foods are the best.


“In this fast age, the less exciting the food, the better. Condiments are injurious in their nature. Mustard, pepper, spices, pickles, and other things of a like character, irritate the stomach and make the blood feverish and impure. The inflamed condition of the drunkard’s stomach is often pictured as illustrating the effect of alcoholic liquors. A similarly inflamed condition is produced by the use of irritating condiments. Soon, ordinary food does not satisfy the appetite. The system feels a want, a craving, for something more stimulating…..

The salads are prepared with oil and vinegar, fermentation takes place in the stomach, and the food does not digest, but decays or putrefies; as a consequence, the blood is not nourished, but becomes filled with impurities, and liver and kidney difficulties appear.” -Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 337,345.

All natural, wholesome herbs may be substituted for unhealthful condiments. For example, cayenne pepper is good in the place of black pepper – it is a natural stimulant that is diffusive in its effect and will improve the circulation for most people. However, cayenne pepper can cause stomach upset in some people, so exercise caution and use sparingly. Garlic and onion are two classic salt substitutes that, when used in the right proportions, can provide a very tasty seasoning. Of course, your friends might not see it the same way; but then, if you can persuade them to join you, they might enjoy the physical benefits from cutting down on salt so much that they won’t care about a little strong breath. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme not only make up the lyrics of a famous song but can help in making up some famous casseroles and dishes. Basil, oregano and marjoram comprise the basis for most Italian seasoning, while Greek foods rely on sesame seeds or tahini, paprika, olives and peppers. Spanish food also is noted for the use of peppers, cumin and chili pepper. All of these herbs and seasonings mentioned are health-promoting and, when used judiciously, taking into account the individual’s taste and ability to tolerate these substances, can be of positive help in eating a nutritious diet.

Excessive Fats or Lipids

Another point of concern in our modern society is the type and amount of fats, or lipids to eat. The latest and best of the modern diets say the best balance of fat in the diet is anywhere from 5 or 10% to 25% of total calories. Most nutritionists now agree that an excess of fats (which includes any type of oil) can be extremely harmful to the system, for it does not undergo any change in the stomach but must be broken down by bile acids later on in the digestive process. Fats, therefore, are the most difficult food group to digest.

“Let all who sit down at your table see upon it well-cooked, hygienic, palatable food. Be very careful in regard to your eating and drinking so that you will not continue to have a diseased body. Eat regularly, and eat only food that is free from grease…

“A plain diet, free from spices and flesh meats and grease of all kinds, would prove a blessing to you, and would save your wife a great amount of suffering, grief, and despondency.” -Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 354,355.

Ellen G. White, as we can see from these two statements, advocated a grease-free diet as the most health-promoting. So again, modern nutritionists are just now catching up with something she taught years ago.

The cold-pressed, unprocessed olive oil and other vegetable oils eaten sparingly can do best in the digestive system, for they contain the necessary Vitamin E for proper absorption.

Vitamin E and polyunsaturated oils. “Vitamin E functions as an anti-oxidant, preventing unsaturated fatty acids and fat-like substances from being destroyed by oxygen. Excessive oxygen turns polyunsaturated fats in the body’s cells rancid (peroxidation) unless sufficient Vitamin E is present to prevent this. Polyunsaturated fats are the types founds in canola, safflower and corn oil. Though originally containing adequate Vitamin E to prevent this peroxidation, these unsaturated oils have lost nearly all their Vitamin E in processing. Vegetable oils, unless designated as unrefined, are extracted by chemicals and high heat. They are bleached, refined to neutralize the free fatty acids, and, most disastrously, ‘deodorized’ by being boiled for up to twelve hours. Any Vitamin E remaining is purely accidental. This is the polyunsaturated oil which many physicians recommend in place of saturated (animal) fats and cholesterol in preventing heart disease.” -Nutrition and Vitamin Therapy, p.99.

Free radicals. “Not only oxygen but also the common air pollutants ozone and nitrous oxide, as well as the sun’s rays, x-rays, and any type of ionizing radiation, can knock loose a hydrogen atom and cause this peroxidation of polyunsaturated lipids. (Of course, this includes over-heating of vegetable oils in cooking.) When this happens, free radicals are formed…

“The free radical flies about within the cell under terrific force and without any pattern to its movement until it strikes another molecule and causes damage. Constant and increasing free radical damage may be involved in the creation of cancers. Vitamin E guards against the formation of these dangerous free radicals.” -Nutrition and Vitamin Therapy, p.99

In conclusion, we understand health to be a matter of personal responsibility within a life-view of preventive and holistic health. Every part of our being – physical, mental and spiritual – needs to be nourished with the true manna from heaven, Jesus Christ. Our Savior points out the way to health, for He has trodden that pathway before us.

“The true fasting which should be recommended to all, is abstinence from every stimulating kind of food, and the proper use of wholesome, simple food, which God has provided in abundance. Men need to think less about what they shall eat and drink, of temporal food, and much more in regard to the food from heaven, that will give tone and vitality to the whole religious experience….

“If the moral sensibilities of Christians were aroused upon the subject of temperance in all things, they could by their example, commencing at their tables, help those who are weak in self-control, who are almost powerless to resist the cravings of appetite. If we could realize that the habits we form in this life will affect our eternal interests, that our eternal destiny depends upon strictly temperate habits, we would work to the point of strict temperance in eating and drinking…” – Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 89,90

So again, a balanced view is presented: Obtain the best food available, prepare it in the most healthful way possible, serve it free from any undue chemical, stimulating or hard-to-digest substances, eat with a mind stayed upon happy things and leave any worrisome thought or anxiety about your food at the feet of Jesus. And thus we, as God’s people in this profligate age, may hold up the banner of true reformation as did John the Baptist in his time.

“In preparing the way for Christ’s first advent, he, (John the Baptist) was a representative of those who are to prepare a people for our Lord’s second coming. The world is given to self-indulgence. Errors and fables abound. Satan’s snares for destroying souls are multiplied. All who would perfect holiness in the fear of God must learn the lessons of temperance and self-control. The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. This self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God’s word. For this reason temperance finds its place in the work of preparation for Christ’s second coming.” -Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p.101.