Experts have varying opinions on the severity—if any— the nuclear fallout drifting on to America's western shores will have as a result of the disastrous nuclear meltdowns in Japan after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and 30-foot tsunami that rocked the country earlier this month. Whether or not we are in fact facing widespread nuclear contamination risks, we are exposed to low-level doses of radiation throughout our daily lives. From airport security scanners to X-rays to radioactive particles in the air, experts have estimated that every human on earth has low levels of radiation in their bodies. There are many risk factors in exposure to radiation—potentially life-threatening effects—and every body can react differently. Here are several all-natural immune-boosting foods and minerals that can help fight off the short and long-term risks of radiation exposure and poisoning.
You've likely already heard about taking iodine to thwart radioactive iodine from binding to the thyroid. Iodine tablets have been sold out all over the west coast for weeks amidst fears that jet streams are rushing radioactive air in to California, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia from Japan. The thyroid, which is often referred to as the "shield gland" is one of the body's best defenses from toxins. When we're deficient in iodine—a trace mineral essential for proper thyroid function—we can develop health problems such as extreme fatigue, depression, weight gain and goiters. If our thyroids are deficient in iodine when we're exposed to radioactive iodine, it will bind to the thyroid in place of iodine, and can lead to cancer and other serious illnesses. Most of us in the U.S. are not iodine deficient, and overdosing on iodine amidst fears of radiation poisoning for example, can be harmful to the thyroid, with iodine toxicity symptoms similar to those found in iodine deficiency. In the case of radiation exposure, iodine's protection is only good for roughly 48 hours after a dosage. Always consult your health care practitioner before taking high levels of iodine or any nutrition supplements.
There are several types of iodine supplements you may hear about: potassium iodine, Lugol's and nascent. All are suitable in providing the thyroid with enough iodine to keep radioactive iodine from binding, in most cases. Foods that contain high levels of naturally occurring iodine are seaweeds—particularly kelp. Many salts are also iodized, and sea salt especially, is also helpful in detoxification and can expedite removal of radioactive iodine from the body.
Chlorella, which is a type of single-celled green algae, is very high in clorophyll, and has been shown to neutralize toxins in the body, often being used when someone has mercury poisoning. Taking recommended doses of chlorella when exposed to radiation—even after a visit to the X-ray machine—is a good way to speed up the detoxification.
The reishi mushroom is considered the King of Chinese medicine because of its incredible immune boosting properties. It is not your pizza topping kind of fungus. Boosting your immunity with supermushrooms like reishi will help your body defend itself against toxins and may reduce the impact after exposure to radiation.
Ashwaganda, or Indian ginseng, is a powerful Ayurvedic tonic herb that helps the body deal with stress. American and Siberian Ginseng can do this too. Even if you don't feel like you're under stress, when your immune system is fighting something foreign and potentially harmful, it stresses the entire body. So using adaptogens like ashwaganda and ginseng can enhance your overall body immunity performance. Likewise, vitamin C is an indispensible nutrient for boosting immunity and helping the body trigger its own defenses. It strengthens cells by acting almost like cement or glue, making it difficult for radioactive or cancer cells to penetrate and corrupt healthy cells. You cannot overdose on vitamin C, and Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling, used it in incredibly high doses—over 100,000 milligrams daily—to treat serious illnesses such as cancer.
Coconut oil is very supportive of the thyroid gland and has been recommended for cancer chemo patients. It's got antifungal and antiviral properties too, which can help the body defend against contamination. It's also advised to use it topically on any skin that may be in danger of exposure to radiation, and that includes the sun's ultra violet radiation.
Radiation can also increase our susceptibility to dehydration. And when we're fighting off any unwelcome guests, it's critical that we stay hydrated so that our body's natural defenses are working properly. Even if you don't feel thirsty (that means you're already dehydrated, BTW), drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
And when dealing with radiation exposure or any other serious health crisis, taking measures to reduce your stress can play a huge role in your health and wellbeing. Check out our tips on dealing with tragedy and loss naturally.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger