Radiation worries are at an all-time high as we watch the unfolding events in Japan. At my own practice, many anxious patients and readers have called this past week wanting to know the health impact of radiation from Japan’s nuclear reactor meltdown. This article is intended to address your radiation concerns, relating both to the reactor meltdown and general exposure in everyday life, as well as what you can do to naturally protect yourself from exposure and reduce radiation load in your body.
Radioactivity from Japan has little impact on people in the U.S.
So far, the news is reporting that the four reactors in partial meltdown spewed radiation as high as 500 meters or 1,640 feet, according to John Beddington, U.K.’s Chief science officer. For some perspective, compare to the Chernobyl blast, which sent radioactive particles 30,000 feet high for months. Reports from last week found that minute radiation was detected in Sacramento, but the amount was extremely minor -- one-millionth of what people get from natural background radiation. Health officials assured us that it posed no threats to residents on the west coast of the United States.
That said, you should take care to avoid foodstuff grown or raised near the fallout zone. Spinach and dairy produced within Japan’s radioactive zone were found to have vastly elevated radioactivity, and the Japanese government discouraged its people from consuming these items. Radioactivity was also found in Pacific waters, just off the northern coast, close to the nuclear plant; over time, this radioactivity should dissipate as the reactor is cooled and ceases to spew particle ash and dust. For now it would be wise to avoid seafood caught in Japanese waters. Other than avoiding potentially contaminated food, there should be no concern for residents of the American continent. In other words, there is no need to panic or go out and hoard potassium iodide pills!
What is radiation?
To understand risks, it helps to know what radiation is. There are two types of radiation: electromagnetic and particle radiation. Electromagnetic (EM) waves range from low energy to high energy. Low energy EM includes electrical, infrared, visible light, and ultraviolet (UV). These, with the exception of UV are relatively harmless and, in fact, can sometimes even be therapeutic, such as the far infrared wave. At the high energy end of EM are the diagnostic and therapeutic x-rays like gamma rays. These are more powerful and exposure must be carefully monitored and limited.
Particle radiation includes electron, proton, and neutron beams produced from splitting unstable atoms from the likes of plutonium and uranium -- as in a nuclear reactor or bomb. High exposure to these types of radiation can cause cancer, genetic defects, and death. For example, in a 2009 New York Academy of Sciences report on the death toll in the European fallout zone of the Chernobyl accident, it was founds that from 1986 to 2005, one million people died from genetic damage caused by the radioactive fallout. In addition, numerous people suffered from thyroid cancer and leukemia.
Natural background radiation is all around us.
There is much misinformation about radiation that I would like to attempt to clarify. First of all, we live with radiation all around us: the sun and stars, rocks, earth, and even our own bones emit natural background radiation. Radiation also comes from television, smoke detectors, and microwave ovens. It is estimated that the annual average of acceptable exposure from the above natural and equipment radiation is around 1 millisieverts or mSv.
Let’s put this data in context. If the average acceptable exposure per person is 1 mSv per year -- and let’s say this is equal to 1 truckload -- then a simple chest x-ray is about 0.03 truckload. Put another way, it will take about 33 chest x-rays for an individual to reach their yearly radiation allowance. Make sense?
How much radiation exposure comes from medical diagnostics?
While a chest x-ray leaves you open to a small amount of radiation, an upper GI x-ray is equal to about 3 truckloads, and a CT scan is about 4 truckloads. Of course, this number sounds alarming, but if you had a condition requiring diagnostic imaging, to avoid it would be foolish and delay treatments that could potentially even save your life. Read on for some natural ways to reduce radiation load in your body.
7 Natural ways to lower radiation burden in your body
Here are some easy ways for everyone to reduce exposure and radiation load in your body.
1. Start by incorporating chlorophyll-rich foods into your diet, including seaweed, kelp, blue-green algae, spirulina, and chlorella. These plants contain rich minerals, such as iodine, that bind up the receptors site in your thyroid, so that any radioactive iodine you are exposed to will be unable to harm your thyroid. These foods also contain selenium and other potent antioxidants that prevent destructive free radical activity and cancerous growth, as well as chelating agents that bind to toxins and eliminate them from your body.
2. Eat colorful foods that are full of antioxidants, especially cherries, blueberries, pomegranates, yams, and sweet potatoes. These foods consistently assist your body in mopping up free radicals and toxins.
3. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of filtered water daily. To find out more about a high-performance water filtration system, go to Aquasana.
4. Increase your intake of vitamin C, E, and D to help antioxidant actions within your body. Or take alpha lipoic acid, a nutrient that protects cells from radiation damage.
5. Herbs like dandelion, peppermint, and chrysanthemum help the body detoxify.
6. Medically supervised detox programs like the Tao of Wellness Detox Retreat can support your body’s healthy cleansing function.
7. Finally, if you find yourself in the unlikely situation of excess radiation exposure, there are medically supervised chelation treatments using EDTA and other treatment methods.
I hope this article helps to assuage your fears about radiation and that you will use the information to live long, live strong and live happy.
You can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. If you are interested in a lifestyle program designed to transform your health and lengthen your years, check out my new book Secrets of Longevity 8-Week Program.
I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me. May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
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