Given the current crisis in Japan, I wanted to address the topic of food and radiation. While the releases of radiation in Japan are disturbing, it is important to note that we are exposed to radiation on a daily basis, from televisions, microwaves or x-rays. Radiation damages cells in the body. Research has shown that excessive exposure to may cause cancers, and nuclear radiation in particular has been shown to cause thyroid cancer. Therefore, it is crucial to eat foods that will minimize the absorption of radiation in the body.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, “The principal elements that have been released from reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant are iodine 131 and cesium 137. Cesium is dangerous because it is long-lived and travels easily through the food chain, continuing to emit particles for centuries once it is released.” (New York Times, March 22, 2011). Our bodies readily absorb iodine from the environment. Unfortunately, our bodies are unable to recognize the difference between regular iodine and radioactive iodine. Therefore, if there is radioactive iodine in the environment, the thyroid gland will readily take it in. This is why people have been consuming potassium iodide. Excessive amounts of potassium iodine are also dangerous and can cause a variety of inflammatory reactions. While it is difficult to assess how widespread the radiation has extended, it is probably best to avoid consuming produce and fish from the area around Fukushima for the next several months at the least.
The best thing to do is to eat foods rich in antioxidants, which help prevent oxidative damage to your cells from radiation and other toxins in the environment. Vitamins C, E and the mineral Selenium are rich in antioxidants, as are foods containing carotenoids and flavonoids, such as brightly-colored fruit and vegetables. In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C also helps stimulate the immune system. In addition, sea vegetables are rich in iodine, calcium, potassium, and iron. Selenium and sea vegetables are commonly used in chelation therapy to remove toxins and heavy metals from the body.
The foods below are full of antioxidant vitamins and minerals:
- Citrus fruits
- Red and Green Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Sea vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds (especially Brazil nuts)
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat
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