The powerful Jet Stream has just delivered radioactive fallout from those damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan to America’s shores.
While health officials say we “have little to worry about,” I’m not taking any chances when it comes to protecting my health and my family.
You see, my home was only an hour down the road when Three Mile Island began to “experience problems” back in 1979 — although Lieutenant Gov. William Scranton assured Pennsylvania residents that the radiation escaping the cooling towers “wasn’t dangerous.”
That official proclamation was all the motivation I needed to get my pregnant wife and our three-year-old daughter into our Toyota Land Cruiser and join the snaking exodus past Hershey, Pa., a town once known for chocolate until understatement stole its rep.
32 Years Ago Almost To the Day
“It’s déjà vu all over again,” as Yogi Berra once quipped– but there’s no driving away from today’s fallout, folks. Meteorologists say the entire US will be blanketed in a matter of days. Just what we need, eh?
With spring allergies now beginning to rage and BPA plastic turning up in the entire food chain, the last thing my besieged immune system needs is another threat to shut it down.
Fortunately, protection is as near as your local supermarket.
Today I want to tell you about an easy, effective way to keep yourself and your family safe from the fallout overhead: That’s by eating more iodine-rich foods – starting right now.
If you’ve been consuming the healing super foods and “meals that heal” which we spotlight here at MyHealingKitchen.com every week, you’re already getting a healthy dose of natural cancer protection.
But because “unusual times require unusual precautions,” I’m going clue you in about the foods and supplements that are proven by scientific research to shield you from radioactivity and the harm it can do to your health. But first, let’s start with the basics…
Radioactive Fallout 101
While there are dozens of radioactive contaminants spewing from the damaged reactors, the one making it across the Pacific in significant amounts is iodine-131. It’s worrisome because it tends to lodge in the thyroid gland where it can cause cancer.
People with low levels of natural iodine (which, studies reveal, includes 95% of all Americans) are particularly vulnerable because their thyroids will soak up any iodine encountered – even the radioactive kind. But when your thyroid is “topped off” with healthy iodine, there’s no room available for the radioactive kind.
That’s why the best prevention and treatment for iodine-131 toxicity is to increase your body’s iodine levels.
Consuming extra iodine before and during exposure to radiation will help prevent the radioactive form of iodine from lodging in your thyroid (as well as ovaries, uterus, prostate, and breasts) and keep it moving until it exits your body.
Raising your iodine levels when radioactivity is present is like wearing one of those lead shields around your thyroid when you’re having an x-ray taken.
To protect yourself, the government is recommending that you take 50-100 mg of iodine per day, beginning immediately, and to ease back to 25-50 mg after 2-3 days.
That’s okay if you have an iodine supplements on hand. But most shoppers are finding it difficult to locate a bottle of iodine anywhere in the US because fallout fears have triggered a buying frenzy.
Iodine Supplements May Be Ineffective, Anyway
Although experts claim that a one-time dose of iodine before or after iodine-131 exposure provides sufficient protection, this strategy may be ineffective if you’re exposed over a longer-term and to a milder strength.
Even more inappropriate are potassium-iodide (KI) supplements, called “thyroid blockers,” which are the go-to emergency treatment for heavy-duty radiation exposure within a 100-mile radius of the meltdown zone.
But the radiation that America is currently receiving from Japan is at a much lower level, so KI supplements are totally uncalled for. In fact, taking KI tablets unnecessarily could actually be harmful to your thyroid, or activate a thyroid problem.
Shortages and Price Gouging
Finding a reputable iodine supplement may be difficult right now – and getting your hands on some KI is harder still. That’s because the Japanese nuclear disaster has triggered a massive demand for these tablets. And there is outrageous price-gouging happening online.
That’s not the worst of it. Unscrupulous manufacturers are cranking out worthless placebo tablets labeled as KI and charging exorbitant prices – so shop carefully.
Although I haven’t investigated these sources personally, here are two well-reviewed products with a good reputation for quality KI tablets if you simply must have them for your peace of mind…
I’m in no way recommending that you buy a supply (unless you need the security of having a personal stash).
“Fallout Foods” Are Your Best Defense
The safest, smartest way to protect yourself in our current situation is to boost your consumption of foods that are rich in natural iodine.
I call these “fallout foods” because they pump up your body’s iodine supply, making you less vulnerable to any radioactive iodine in the air.
Even without an iodine supplement, you can protect yourself and family from the increased radiation overhead by getting more of these fallout foods into your diet.
The best of these iodine-rich foods come from the oceans — and topping the list is seaweed and other sea vegetables, the leading food source of iodine on the planet.
Seaweed and sea veggies are a mainstay in the Japanese diet (they consume more of it than any population on Earth), so they’re getting as much protection as these foods can provide.
But if you’re like most Americans, chances are the only seaweed you’ve ever swallowed was wrapped around a sushi roll. And you probably couldn’t tell kombu from kelp if you’re life depended on it. But that’s about to change.
Beefing-Up Your Seaweed Savvy
Here’s a rundown of the most popular types of seaweed available…
Kelp has an amazing 12 mg of iodine per teaspoon of granules. Sprinkle it onto any meal—salads, soups, and whole grains.
Kombu is a type of kelp that comes in strips. Add one 5″ strip to every pot of soup, grains and beans you cook (iodine is not affected by heat). It’s painless and flavorless, and you can remove it after cooking so squeamish family member won’t have to see it.
Dulse and wakame are other good sources of iodine — but, alas, nori is the iodine-poor member of the seaweed family. You can still get plenty of iodine in your sushi by adding kelp granules to the sushi’s rice, and/or cooking the rice with kombu.
Sea Veggies Remove Radiation from Your Body
In addition to protecting you from radiation, sea vegetables also pull radiation out of your body. According to a 1964 McGill University study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, kelp reduces the intestinal absorption of radioactive strontium-90 by up to 80% (thus it passes through the body instead of sticking around where it can do damage).
Indeed, there are so many health benefits associated with seaweed that adding it to your current diet just makes good sense – whether fallout from Japan becomes a major health concern or not.
Curious to see how we could make “seaweed snacking” more appealing to Western taste buds, we’ve been experimenting with new recipe ideas in our My Healing Kitchen Test Kitchen. Here are the winning favorites as voted by our Taste Panel…
Seaweed is definitely catching on in the health-conscious sectors of America. Seaweed snacks now populate entire sections of shelf space at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. One of my favorites is Annie Chuns Seaweed Snacks which is available in sesame or sinus-opening wasabi flavors. Both are big favorites around the MyHealingKitchen offices.
Other Radiation-Blocking Foods
No way, you say, that you’ll ever, ever eat seaweed?
Okay. So you’ll be happy to know there are several other foods that pack a big iodine wallop, including asparagus, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard and turnip greens. (Just realize that these veggies are nowhere near as potent as the sea-faring sisters.)
And forget that urban rumor about getting your iodine from iodized salt. You’d have to swallow a half a cup of salt to get a scant 13 mg — and your blood pressure wouldn’t appreciate that one bit.
So Have a Bowl of Miso Soup Instead
The Japanese consume a lot of miso — a savory, fermented soybean paste frequently used as a base for soups. Soybeans provide ample iodine on their own, but studies shown that miso strengthens people’s resistance to radiation poisoning by up to five times, according to 1990 Hiroshima University research. And this review of miso studies shows phenomenal anti-cancer activity.
The fallout-fighting benefits of miso were first observed by Dr. Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D., who discovered that his staff and patients failed to develop radiation sickness, even though they were terribly near the atomic blast in Nagasaki. He attributed this to their unusually high daily consumption of miso and wakame seaweed soup.
Miso is incredibly versatile, too. You can use it as a bouillon or stock, put it in sandwich spreads, or sip it with grated ginger as a hearty tea.
Some mornings, I fill a quart jar with hot water, add 2 teaspoons of grated ginger with a tablespoon of miso, and enjoy it for hours. It’s quick, easy, nourishing — and very low-cal. Add a bit of kelp and you’ve got twice the fallout protection.
Put More Cancer-Blocking Foods on the Table
Radiation causes cancer by creating free radical molecules that damage DNA. So it makes sense to eat more foods and supplements that are rich in antioxidants these days — and research backs this up.
Choose foods loaded with the antioxidants vitamin C (papaya, kale, red bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries and kiwis), vitamin E (sunflower seeds, almonds, olives and spinach) and selenium (Brazil nuts, salmon, shrimp and turkey, and brown rice).
All of these are cancer-blocking heavyweights. And it’s easy to identify them. Just let your eyes guide you: Fresh, brightly-colored foods tend to be antioxidant treasures.
You also should consume more whole grains, especially brown rice. Whole grains are rich in fiber, phosphorus, antioxidants and selenium, all of which help escort toxins from the body.
And don’t forget rosemary. Spanish researchers published research in the British Journal of Radiology demonstrating that nothing fights the free radicals created by radiation like this aromatic herb. Since rosemary’s essential antioxidants are fat-soluble, they provide critical protection in areas water-based antioxidants can’t reach.
Other supplements that may be protective against radiation damage are vitamin D and vitamin K. Both support cell apoptosis, which is the programmed death of cells that accumulate various DNA errors (due to radiation and other causes). Vitamin D also supports DNA repair.
It’s Time for Change
Following on the heels of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico just 13 months ago, the current nuclear disaster in Japan is yet another wake-up call for us as global citizens, as well as Americans.
The terrible televised scenes from Japan re-emphasize the pressing need to transition to non-polluting, sustainable, renewable sources of energy immediately.
In the meantime, one thing each of us can do right away is conserve the energy available to us. Conservation is the cheapest form of energy we have at hand right now.
The time for real alternative energy is here. The sooner we get working on it, the sooner we can pass a safer world on to our grandchildren.
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Radiation: Many People wonder how this invisible poison with effect those exposed to it? The medical outcome of severe radiation poisoning is very serious, here is what to look for:
“Radiation sickness is damage to your body caused by a very large dose of radiation often received over a short period of time (acute). The amount of radiation absorbed by the body — the absorbed dose — determines how sick you’ll be.
Radiation sickness is also called acute radiation sickness, acute radiation syndrome or radiation poisoning. Common exposures to low-dose radiation, such as X-ray or CT examinations, do not cause radiation sickness.
Although radiation sickness is serious and often fatal, it’s rare. Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II, most cases of radiation sickness have happened after nuclear industrial accidents, such as the 1986 nuclear reactor accident at a power station in Chernobyl, Ukraine.
The severity of signs and symptoms of radiation sickness depends on how much radiation you’ve absorbed. How much you absorb depends on the strength of the radiated energy and the distance between you and the source of radiation.
Absorbed dose and duration of exposure
The absorbed dose of radiation is measured in a unit called a gray (Gy). Diagnostic tests that use radiation, such as an X-ray, result in a small dose of radiation — typically well below 0.1 Gy, focused on a few organs or small amount of tissue.
Signs and symptoms of radiation sickness usually appear when the entire body receives an absorbed dose of at least 1 Gy. Doses greater than 6 Gy to the whole body are generally not treatable and usually lead to death within two days to two weeks, depending on the dose and duration of the exposure.
Initial signs and symptoms
The initial signs and symptoms of treatable radiation sickness are usually nausea and vomiting. The amount of time between exposure and when these symptoms develop is an indicator of how much radiation a person has absorbed.
After the first round of signs and symptoms, a person with radiation sickness may have a brief period with no apparent illness, followed by the onset of new, more serious symptoms.
In general, the greater your radiation exposure, the more rapid and more severe your symptoms will be.
|Early symptoms of radiation sickness|
|Mild exposure (1-2 Gy)||Moderate exposure (2-6 Gy)||Severe exposure (6-8 Gy)||Very severe exposure (8-10 Gy or higher)|
|Nausea and vomiting||Within 6 hours||Within 2 hours||Within 1 hour||Within 10 minutes|
|Diarrhea||–||Within 8 hours||Within 3 hours||Within 1 hour|
|Headache||–||Within 24 hours||Within 4 hours||Within 2 hours|
|Fever||–||Within 3 hours||Within 1 hour||Within 1 hour|
|Later symptoms of radiation sickness|
|Dizziness and disorientation||–||–||Within 1 week||Immediate|
|Weakness, fatigue||Within 4 weeks||Within 1-4 weeks||Within 1 week||ImmediateImmediate|
|Hair loss, bloody vomit and stools, infections, poor wound healing, low blood pressure”
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|–||Within 1-4 weeks||Within 1 week|