Digestion and Copper Toxicity

Copper toxicity has a wide range of effects on our digestive system. The shift to a ‘healthier’, plant-based diet can cause a build-up of copper, impacting our digestive system which is already functioning at sub-par due to the increasing deficiency in zinc, protein and fat.

Some people experience a craving for high copper foods with copper toxicity. But this can be because the copper-zinc imbalance is having an impact on their digestion.

digestive-systemPoor digestion means we can’t break down and absorb fat and protein properly. It feels like we develop an ‘intolerance to fat’ – you know, feeling queasy after eating rich meals, bloating, gas, not being able to poo, running to the toilet to poo and feeling ‘heavy’ after eating.

Excess copper (and declining zinc relative to copper) coupled with a vegetarian, low/no fat diet causes the production of bile and digestive juices to decline. This then causes the ‘fat intolerance’ feelings to develop and the thought of eating meat and fat becomes unpalatable.

It’s this trouble with digesting meat and fat that leads many of us to eat a more plant-based diet. But by avoiding these essential nutrient this exacerbates the copper toxicity problem and ironically makes the condition worse!

Eliminating or reducing fat in our diet inhibits the production of bile and gastric juices. However, copper is predominately detoxed through bile. So those poo problems you’re having – that’s a result of reduced bile flow and a low/no fat diet.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), those of us suffering from copper toxicity also tend to have a spleen yang deficiency. Since these ‘healthy’ diets are predominantly plant-based, they tend to be raw or cold (think salads). However, eating cold foods further exacerbates the digestive problems we are experiencing as digestion is dampened by cold foods. TCM categorises a spleen yang deficiency as symptoms of poor digestion, mucus build-up, a bloated tongue that is pale and covered in ‘fur’ and fluid retention.