I read a fascinating study about the impact of arsenic on the microbiome. Professor Anne Hoen did the study out of her lab at Dartmouth.
Dr. Hoen studied the effects of small amounts of arsenic on the microbiome of rats. She discovered that arsenic had a dramatic impact on how the bacteria in the gut functioned. From there, Dr. Hoen decided to do a study of the effects of arsenic on the infant microbiome.
This study was conducted in New Hampshire, a state known to have a significant amount of arsenic in the ground and groundwater. The arsenic is naturally occurring, but it enters private wells. Of course, people who drink this water, including pregnant and nursing women, are exposed to the arsenic.
What they discovered is that when babies are exposed to arsenic, their microbiome is disrupted. Arsenic kills some of the gut bacteria in the infant gut.
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My recommendation is to get a good quality water filter, whether you live in New Hampshire or not. The water filter will remove chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins, and other toxic compounds.
The take-home message from this study is to have your water assessed if you live in an area with naturally occurring arsenic.
If the lab analysis of your water shows significant level of heavy metals, have a hair analysis done as well.
I once had a client who was not improving over time. A sample of the hair on his head showed very little. When we requested an analysis of a pubic hair sample, we found elevated mercury and copper levels.
Copper and other metals like mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead are attracted to a particular protein on the cell surface. Copper has a very high affinity for that particular receptor. If we see an elevated copper, we have a high index of suspicion that the patient’s got a heavy metal problem. We can then consider doing a provocation test to see if the patient is going to dump a large chunk of metal. Essentially, we’ve found a potential cause for poor health.
Cutting to the chase, don’t let your children drink water if it’s contaminated. Get the water checked if you’ve got a well. If there are health problems in the family, get some hair analysis to rule out possible heavy metal contamination.