Updated: Aug 9
Andy Cutler was a research scientist who got chronic mercury poisoning from his dental work. He was very brilliant and being toxic cut his intellect right down. He was obliged to figure out how to fix his health so he could start thinking clearly again, and we are all beneficiaries of that. Andy had a Phd in Chemistry from Princeton University.
The first book he wrote was Amalgam Illness, Diagnosis and Treatment. I have been rereading the section, “What to Do About Mercury Poisoning “ and recording videos for your edification. Working with these texts has brought back to me what it was like to work with Andy on The Detox Manual. He would send me great lumps of text and I would have to read them until I fully understood what he was saying, and then slice and dice and move text around to get things in some logical order. He tended to be kind of stream of consciousness in his writing style.
I have already done a video about the first section in the chapter. It was about the basic supplements that toxic people need to take. The next section is on diet.
Diet is the most profound thing you can do to control mercury symptoms. Unfortunately, diets are also the hardest things to follow and stick to. And they are hard to figure out, too. What any particular, mercury toxic person needs to do about their diet tends to vary a lot!
To further confuse matters, your digestion may be working just fine. You may be experiencing symptoms because mercury poisons the enzymes in the liver and other parts of your body that metabolize food. You can be reacting to things in the food that got digested and distributed in your body but did not get properly processed by your liver. Sometimes these chemicals can even get into your brain! On page 112 in The Detox Manual, Andy says, "exposures to chemicals disturb your brain and give you crazy symptoms - just as crazy as normal people get if bad chemicals got into their brains. Anxiety, spaciness and confusion are common symptoms.”
If you suspect that it is some food chemical that your liver can’t process, that is causing you symptoms, but you haven’t figured out the culprit, you should start off by eating one or two things that you know are safe for a few days. Then add in one thing at a time and pay close attention to how they make you feel. Sorry, this can be a very boring diet. Hopefully really worth it, and hopefully, with chelation, the situation will improve.
The following is a list of foods and ingredients in foods that can be problematic for mercury toxic people:
Partially hydrogenated oils. In a footnote Andy points out that it takes the body a month or two to clear these so you can’t tell how they make you feel by just eliminating them for a short time. I was brought up on these. It was a revolution when the food industry introduced Crisco, a shelf stable fat. My grandmother used it half/half with butter for her pie crusts. When I got back to the States after living abroad it was the first thing my new chiropractor educated me about. He told me to put that stuff in the garage and use it to grease my bicycle.
Foods cooked in polyunsaturated oils. Google informs me that these are the oils that are solid at room temperature. They include safflower, grape seed, flax seed, sunflower, poppyseed, and soybean oils. If you want to get really confused try Googling info about oils and fats! Andy remarks about these oils that they are oxidative and can cause autoimmune problems.
Spices and seasonings because you never know who is going to react to what in this category.
Sulfur foods. I am not sure that Andy had figured out about thiols and mercury toxicity when he wrote this chapter. He only mentions “sulfur foods” and thiols are a subset of sulfur foods. A third of mercury toxic people, more or less, have a bad reaction to these, a third of people need to eat more and for the final third it makes no difference. This is explained, along with the thiol food lists, in The Detox Manual on pp. 124-126.
Tyramine containing foods. Tyramine is a natural chemical found in some foods. Some people do not have the enzyme to break it down and it causes them problems, particularly migraines. From Google again, I find that tyramine containing foods include: aged cheeses, cured and processed meats, fermented veggies, citrus and tropical fruits, fermented sauces such as soy sauce and the like, soy products like tofu, miso and tempe, yeast extracts like Marmite, leftover meat, poultry and fish, sourdough bread and caffeinated drinks. The enzyme that the body uses to break down tyrosine is called MAO or monoamine oxidase. You should watch out for foods high in materials that are metabolized by MOAs.
Sulfite containing foods which can cause indigestion and itchy skin. Sulfites are naturally occurring chemicals and are also added to foods as a preservative. They are often found in wine, dried fruit, black tea, peanuts and fermented foods.
Preservatives and colorings: BHT, BHA, TBHQ are preservatives. FD&C yellow #5 is a particularly problematic food coloring made from petroleum
Antibiotics that are fed to animals to make them grow fast.
Pesticides. What can I say? You pretty much have to buy everything organic. But you probably already know that by now.
Some other food chemicals are: melatonin, tryptophan, phenylalanine, aspartame, salycilates, and other things that require sulfation.
After this list Andy proceeds with some general comments. If you react to the chemicals in food, he says, you are going to have to do all your own cooking. You can’t rely on people to believe that you are really that sick and sensitive. They will just try and humor you and will cheat.
Do not trust grocery stores. Watch out for the the terms “healthy” and “natural,” they may not mean anything. You have to go with “certified organic” and even then! My experience has been that such are the realities of doing business and surviving in the retail market with its emphasis on shelf life, that even organic food companies sometimes hide dirty little secrets.
There are certain diet interventions you can use for various health problems. If you have hypoglycemia don’t eat any sugar and eat a diet high in fibre and protein and low in carbs.
People who have a lot of inflammation can reduce the inflammation precursor, arachidonic acid by stopping meat, dairy and shellfish. And you can kind of crowd out AA by taking lots of flax or fish oil.
People who have trouble producing energy should never eat hydrogenated oils and eat a low carb diet. A low carb diet produces pyruvate and gets the Krebs cycle to work better. The Krebs cycle is the biochemical machine that produces energy in the cells. Try a low carb diet particularly if you are cold, achey and have a high pulse and respiration rate.
Mercury messes with the biochemical machinery in your cells. It can also just cause outright bad digestion. This can lead to 2 different problems: not getting the nutrients you need out of your food, and having undigested food mess with your intestines. To improve your digestion, you can try extra stomach acid, (betaine HcL) and animal-derived digestive enzymes.
Finally, it is a sad fact that we often crave the very foods that cause us problems. Andy proposes a common sense strategy to counteract this. Instead of associating eating sugar (for instance) with the pleasant feeling of eating sugar, shift your mind to thinking of all the bad things that eating sugar will make happen and how that will feel.
That is about all he has to say about diet in Amalgam Illness. It is still quite a lot. In chapter 9 of The Detox Manual, he goes into more detail. There you will find the high and low thiol foods list, which he developed by experimenting on himself. He also lists 8 different very common diets that you can research and try.
In conclusion, Whether it is because your liver is not metabolizing some weird chemical, or because your digestion just outright works poorly, diet is the most profound thing you can do to mitigate some of the hundred of different symptoms mercury can cause. But it is the most difficult intervention to figure out and comply with. Still, if you can identify and stop some aspect of your diet that is bothering you, you will feel worlds better.