Fallout Foods That Block Radioactivity
The powerful Jet Stream has just delivered radioactive fallout from those damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan to America's shores.
And while the officials say we "have little to worry about," I'll be taking a few extra precautions on protecting my health and my family, thank you very much.
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 this 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 boogeyman to scare it into a shutdown. How about you?
Fortunately, protection is as near as your local supermarket.
The editors and I here at MyHealingKitchen.com 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 in the days and weeks ahead.
If you've been consuming the healing superfoods and "meals that heal" which we spotlight on our website every week, you're already getting a healthy dose of natural cancer protection.
But because "unusual times require unusual precautions," this Special Report will clue you in to the special foods and supplements that shield you from radioactivity and the harm it can do. But first, let's start with the basics...
Japanese Fallout 101
Most of the nasty radiation from Japan right now is in the form of radioactive iodine-131, which lodges in the thyroid glands of mammals -- especially humans whose diets are deficient in protective iodine (That's about 95% of Americans, according to Soram Kalsa, MD and professor of clinical medicine who practices at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.)
While there are hundreds of other possible radioactive contaminants that may appear in much smaller particles, iodine-131 is the bad guy you should be most concerned about. That's because it lodges in the thyroid of mammals and can lead to cancer.
Potassium-iodide (KI) supplements, called "thyroid blockers," are the go-to emergency treatment, says Dr. Soram.
"Consuming KI before and during exposure to radiation is the accepted way to prevent 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," he explains. So iodide supplements are usually administered."
"Consuming KI before and during exposure to radiation is the accepted way to prevent 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," he explains. "Which is why iodide supplements are usually administered."
Although the federal government claims you only need a one-time dose of iodide just before or after exposure, this strategy is inappropriate if you're exposed over a longer-term or from farther away.
And this seems to be the case today.
Supplement Shortages and Price Gouging
But finding a reputable KI supplement may be difficult right now. That's because the Japanese nuclear disaster has triggered a massive demand for these tablets. And there is outrageous price-gouging happening online.
And that's not the worst of it. Unscrupulous manufacturers are cranking out worthless placebo tablets labeled as KI and charging exorbitant prices.
Although we haven't investigated them, here are two well-reviewed products with a good reputation for quality KI tablets...
Source Naturals Potassium Iodide
Thyro Shield Potassium Iodide Solution, Black Raspberry
But we aren't recommending that you run out and buy KI tablets (unless you just want the security of having a stash).
Supplements are only necessary for those contaminated within a 100-mile radius of the meltdown zone.
For everyone else, a much easier way to protect yourself is to boost your consumption of foods rich in natural iodine and antioxidants (nutrients that disarm the carcinogens that can cause various cancers).
Pass the Seaweed, Please
Even without a KI supply, you can protect yourself and family by eating more of what I call "fallout foods," which are rich in natural iodine.
These foods help ramp up your body's natural iodine supplies so that you're not vulnerable to radioactive iodine-131 getting into your organs.
Remember: When you're deficient in iodine, your body will soak up any iodine it encounters -- even if it's the radioactive kind. But if you're "topped off" with healthful, food-sourced iodine, the radioactive stuff can't lodge in your body.
The best food sources of iodine come from the oceans -- and topping the list is seaweed and other sea vegetables. These are the very best food source of iodine on the planet.
Seaweeds That We Love
If you're like most Americans, chances are the only seaweed you've swallowed was wrapped around a sushi roll. But 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.
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, and one sheet of nori provides 70% of your daily recommendation.
Because iodine content varies greatly according to growing conditions, it's impossible to know for certain how much you're getting. But if you start adding it to you diet today, your thyroid will thank you -- even if radiation levels remain safe.
Once you start to appreciate the many health benefits that seaweed provides, it will be much easier to include it in your diet frequently.
And your health will really benefit because, in addition to protecting you from radiation, sea vegetables actually remove it from the body.
According to a 1964 McGill University study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, kelp reduces intestinal absorption of radioactive strontium-90 by up to 80% (thus it passes through the body instead of sticking around).
Seaweed Salads and Other Delights
Curious to see if 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...
Nori-Wrapped Crab Rolls with Wasabi and Roasted Red Pepper
Seaweed Cucumber Salad
You can also enjoy seaweed in the form of Annie Chun's Seaweed Snacks (or the many house brand offerings at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods). Around the MyHealingKitchen offices, we're finding them to be quite addictive.
Other Radiation-Blocking Foods to Munch
No way that you'll ever, ever eat seaweed?
You'll be happy to know there are several other foods that pack a big wallop of iodine, including asparagus, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard and turnip greens. Just know 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 very much.
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, call it a soup, and you've got twice the protection.
Other Radiation-Fighting Warriors
Radiation causes cancer by creating free radicals 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. Let your eyes guide you: Fresh, brightly-colored foods tend to be antioxidant treasures.
You also should consume more whole grains, especially brown rice. They are rich in fiber, phosphorus, antioxidants and selenium, all of which help escort toxins from the body.
And don't forget herbal aid--Spanish researchers published research in the British Journal of Radiology demonstrating that nothing fights the free radicals created by radiation like rosemary. 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.
Time for Change
Following on the heels of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico just 13 months go, this 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.
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.