2011 Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Radiation Detox
Part 3: Role of Diet in Radiation Detox
A healthy immune system is better equipped to deal with radioactive exposure. Consuming a wide spectrum of fruits and vegetables strengthens our immunity and gives us a cutting edge protection against the devastating effects of ionizing radiations. And whether or not the Fukushima nuclear disaster culminates into a global calamity, a healthy nutritious diet goes a long way in providing considerable protection against everyday stress and environmental toxins.
We have already discussed the benefits of super foods such as spirulina, chlorella, seaweed, kelp, black tea and green tea in part 1 of our Radiation Detox series. Some other important food items that are particularly beneficial in dealing with radiation are:
- Fruits rich in pectin (Apples)
- Citrus fruits (Lemons, grapefruits, orange)
- Root vegetables (Yams, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, carrots)
- Wheat Grass
- Green leafy vegetables (Kale, spinach, collard, cabbage, horseradish, mustard greens)
- Coconut oil
- Milk Thistle
Radioactive elements work cleverly in the system. They masquerade as nutrients and get into our systems, lodging in bones, the brain, soft tissues, ovaries and pancreas, thereby causing unimaginable destruction. When the tissues are continuously radiated with radioactive toxins and overloaded with heavy metals, they eventually wear down. The result is that the body quickly runs out of steam in dealing with so much stress on its own.
However, if we keep reinforcing our body’s defences with a diet that is rich in minerals, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients, we definitely stand a better chance at fighting the radiation damage. Some foods like pectin are also great chelators and help to remove the toxins from of the body.
A study investigated the effect of a fruit and vegetable rich diet against the long-term effects of radiation exposure and the risk of cancer . Diets of some 36,000 atomic-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were assessed and followed for 20 years to study cancer mortality rates. The study reported that the “cancer risk reduction by vegetables in exposed persons went from 52% (effect of radiation alone) to 32% (effect of vegetables and radiation), and cancer risk reduction by fruit was 52% (radiation alone) to 34% (effect of fruit and radiation).” The study concluded that daily consumption of fruit and vegetables reduced the risk of death by cancer in people exposed to radiation.
A study showed that concentrates of dietary fibres, isolated from lemon peel, beetroot, grapes seeds and other plant resources have radio-protective properties . The study authors concluded that concentrated dietary fibre can be used in human nutrition to prevent the incorporation of radionuclides.
Sulphur-containing foods have been found to bind as well as neutralize the effects of radioactive contaminants and heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium. Garlic, onion and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Bok choy, spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, horseradish, mustard greens and cabbage are a good source of phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and sulphur and as such have remarkable detoxifying properties and provide excellent protection against radiation poisoning.
Pectin in fruits is also highly effective in lowering the levels of Cs-137. Cesium-137 is a long-lasting radionuclide and can remain radioactive for up to 300 years. Fruits rich in pectin include apples, berries, grapefruit, oranges, and lemons. Please note that most of the pectin is concentrated in the peel. Our body can’t digest pectin very well. Pectin is a great chelating agent and binds to Cs 137 and other toxins in the gut and blocks its absorption. In addition, pectin also clears the radionuclide load from the tissues.
Apple Pectin was extensively used to reduce the load of Cs 137 in children affected in the Chernobyl disaster . A study showed that Cs-137 levels in children who were given dry and milled apple-extract containing 15-16% pectin were reduced by 62%, whereas the reduction in the children given radiologically clean food and placebo was only 13.9 %.
Cs 137 mimics potassium when it enters the body and becomes lodged in muscle tissue, including the heart, in significant mass. Radioactive cesium works to damages the heart muscle at an alarming speed. More on the Cs 137 damage can be found in our blog Cesium 137 and Cardiovascular Damage. Eating potassium rich foods such as sea vegetables, green leafy vegetables, avocados and bananas can protect you from radio-cesium poisoning.
Strontium-90 is a radionuclide formed during the nuclear fission reactions in the nuclear facilities. It is a potential carcinogen. Once inside the body, Strontium-90 is readily absorbed by the bones as it mimics calcium, and so accumulates thereby causing continuous damage. Foods rich in calcium, such as almonds, figs, collards, salmon and spinach, help to prevent the uptake of Strontium-90.
Herbs like milk thistle and curcumin are also great detoxification tools. Milk thistle also stimulates the production of glutathione, a master anti-oxidant that is the father of all detox agents.
Focus on healthy, well balanced diet that comprises of whole fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to start your protection against radiations. Natural foods support the body’s intrinsic capacity to fight radiation-induced free radicals, ratchet-up the immune system, and eliminate toxic nuclides and heavy metals from the body, thus taking massive pressure away from the liver and kidneys, the major organs involved in the body’s detoxification.
Adopting other healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and meditation also helps the body to gather its all-inclusive defences against internal, as well as external, environmental stressors.
- Catherine Sauvageta, Fumiyoshi Kasagia, Charles A Waldrenb. Dietary factors and cancer mortality among atomic-bomb survivors. Nutrition and Carcinogenesis. 2004
- Dudkin MS, Shchelkunov LF, Denisiuk NA, Korzun VP, Saglo VI. Dietary fibers as radiation protectors. Vopr Pitan. 1997
- Nesterenko, VB et al. Reducing the 137Cs-Load in the Organism of ‘Chernobyl’ Children With Apple Pectin. Swiss Med Wkly. 2004 Jan 10;134(1-2):24-7.