Radiation: What You Can Do About It – Part Two

Foods to Fight Radiation Exposure


All radiation that we absorb from the rain, water and food (especially dairy products and meats, since it accumulates up the food chain), following a nuclear emergency, causes internal damage. Currently, the nuclear industry, poised for resurgence as an alternative to fossil fuels, is minimizing the dangers of radiation. To witt: nuclear energy is now spoken of as “green” and in the same breath as wind and solar energy.


But, as discussed in the previous newsletter, we are constantly exposed to various radiations as a result of modern life, and what’s left over from above ground nuclear testing. So, my approach here is to empower you with the knowledge you need to stay safe year round, not just when faced with the latest nuclear disaster.


Seaweed and Radiation


First and foremost, eat more seaweed. While many in the West have never acquired a taste for this food, outside of sushi, it is a superior food in many ways. Chinese Medicine uses seaweeds for shrinking tumors and growths in the body, and the extremely high level of iodine it contains supports and protects the thyroid. As well, the high level of other minerals contained in seaweeds works to protect the rest of the body from radiation damage by encouraging alkalinity.


The brown seaweeds, including alaria, kelp, kombu, bladderwrack and wakame, are also high in algin which will actually pull radiation from the body. Algin as an isolate is also sometimes found in supplements as “sodium alginate.”  For those not keen on seaweed, nori (used to wrap sushi) and dulse, the purple seaweed (also high in lithium), are two of the tastier seaweeds, and easy to add to soups, salads or grains.


Alkaline Diet and Radiation

Since some of the damage caused by radiation can be attributed to creating a high level of acidity in the body, all alkalizing foods are protective. These would include organic vegetables which are rich in minerals. Remember that organic food still has the full range of trace minerals, whereas agribusiness vegetables are not only lacking in minerals, due to topsoil erosion and the use of synthetic fertilizers, but also often contain high amounts of pesticide residue, which is highly acidic to the body.  {Follow this link to EWG (Environmental Working Group), for a list of the foods with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticides.)


Followers of Macrobiotics (a Japanese dietary philosophy based on Zen Buddhism) maintain that after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , those residents (not directly affected by the blast) who had brown rice and miso to consume, did not suffer as much from the effects  of radiation sickness as those still eating a modern diet.


We can assume that as part of their traditional diet these people also consumed high amounts of green tea (extremely high in antioxidants), and of course seaweed. All these foods are very alkalizing, so much of their benefit may simply be from neutralizing the high acidity that is part of the damage done to the body by radiation.


By now, most of us know which foods are acidifying (sugars, refined carbs, fruit juices, “bad” fats,  most seed oils, excessive meat, excessive refined salt, etc) and which foods are alkalizing (root vegetables, dark leafy greens, omega 3 essential fatty acids, berries, whole grains, natural salts, lean proteins, sprouted and fermented foods, etc).  It is also important to keep up a good intake of spring or filtered water when the body is coping with an additional burden of toxins.


As an aside, the acid/alkaline proposition is not actually based on any change in the pH of blood, but on the tendency of the body to neutralize acidic foods by pulling minerals out of the body to maintain the ideal (necessary for life) pH of the blood. Since minerals are alkalizing the more we lose from our bodies and bones overtime, the weaker and more acidic our systems become. Acidity is related to inflammation and inflammation is related to a host of diseases.


As well as eating a mineral-rich diet, it is also important to keep our supplemental mineral intake high, in order to support alkalinity. I will take this opportunity to point out that the NutriPods daily multiple vitamin and mineral packet includes a wide array of minerals from “macro” minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, silica, zinc, etc) to trace minerals (boron, chromium, copper, iodine, selenium, etc). For those who don’t use a multivitamin product and buy all the nutrients separately, I recommend using our Mineral Mix product. 


Protective Foods


Now, certain foods have a particular ability to help protect the body from radiation and to help flush it out with minimal damage. These include: sulfur containing foods, such as cabbage, broccoli, kale and eggs, since sulfur helps the body to produce the antioxidant glutathione, necessary for detoxification. Other good sources of sulfur are members of the onion and garlic family, including chives, leeks,shallots and scallions. 


However, remember that when using cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, etc), these foods when consumed raw can inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid gland, therefore be sure to cook them first. Soy foods in excess also can inhibit iodine uptake if you are not consuming iodine as well.


Beans are also sulfur containing and, in moderation, can be an alkalizing source of protein in the diet. Immediately following a nuclear disaster we want to avoid meat and dairy products produced near the event, at which point beans will be an important protein food to add to the diet. But, ideally choose your beans based on your blood type, for optimal digestion and health benefits. 


Most edible mushrooms (especially shitake) are powerful, immune enhancing foods that help protect us from radiation. Even more powerful than culinary mushrooms are the family of medicinal mushrooms, which help the immune system to cope with all assults, including radiation. ImmuneStart is an excellent option as it contains five of the most important organic medicinal mushrooms in concentrated form, along with the immune enhancing herb astragalus.


Other helpful foods are buckwheat, due to being high in the bioflavonoid rutin which protects against radiation, and raw sunflower seeds and apples, both of which are high in the fiber pectin, which binds and removes radioactive particles from the body.


Apples (along with grapefruit) are also particularly high in d-calcium glucarate, a natural substance with powerful detoxification properties. Just make sure your apples (and grapefruits) are organic, or the pesticide levels outweigh the benefits.


Another supportive food is whey protein, the only protein with the ability to raise glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione is an internally produced antioxidant that aids the body in detoxification and raising immunity functions.  Unfortunately, most glutathione supplements break up in the digestive system before they can do any good, so one of the only forms of glutathione worth taking is Liposomal Glutathione.


Radioprotective Herbs




Herbs useful for coping with an additional radiation load in the body include the ginseng family, especially “panax ginseng” grown in China and Korea, North American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius) and Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus Senticosus). The family of ginseng compounds are known as adaptogens and serve to support the body against all manner of stressors be they physical, emotional, or mental.


Asian ginsengs have been used to improve the immunity of cancer patients as well as reversing low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Siberian ginseng also has reverse suppression of white blood cells and bone marrow suppression in cancer patients, as well as showing anti-tumor effects in vitro.


Now, these three ginsengs have slightly different secondary attributes that one should be aware of before using. “Red” panax ginseng is considered “heating” to the body in Chinese medicine, and could aggravate high blood pressure, or hot flashes. On the other hand “North American” ginseng is “cooling” to the body, and would actually be helpful to treat such heated conditions. 


Panax ginseng which is not processed to be “red” is only “warming” in nature, and Siberian ginseng is even less warming, and almost “neutral” in nature. Unless one knows (generally via a Chinese medicine practitioner) if one has a heated or cooled (or “deficient”) nature, one is advised to stick with non-red panax ginseng or Siberian ginseng, which are both safe for long-term use.




For workers in the nuclear industry who are exposed to highly dangerous amounts of radiation there are certain drugs used to help them. These drugs, Neupogen and Neulasta, are blood-derived medications that increase the manufacture of white blood cells, encouraging the body to fight off infection. The herb Astragalus also has this ability to increase white blood cells, as well as being a superior immune supporter. Astragalus is extremely safe, even for children, and works best when taken as a tonic over long periods. (More information on Astragalus can be found on two previous blogs: Astragalus: Immune Tonic and Astragalus and Longevity.)


Green Tea 


Specifically protects against side effects from gamma radiation, and is a powerful antioxidant, protecting against general free radical damage. Drink frequently.


Milk Thistle


Detoxifies and rebuilds the liver, and though it is not specific to radiation, the liver handles the majority of the body’s burden of toxins. Milk thistle also raises glutathione levels in the liver and glutathione is required for detoxifying all toxic compounds, including radiation.


Radioprotective Mushrooms


Reishi mushroom has been shown to prolong the life of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.  Cordyceps increases glutathione production in the liver. Other mushrooms of value include: Maitake; Shitake; Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor); Zhu Ling (Polyporus umbellatus).


Other Radioprotective Herbs 


Traditional blood cleanser formulas also will help remove the toxic load on the body allowing it to cope better with the extra burden of radiation. Based on the most powerful herbal blood cleansers, red clover and burdock, formulas such as the Hoxey Formula (which included potassium iodide) and Essiac were used as alternative cancer treatments, decades ago. The best available such formula is Flor Essence (which also includes kelp), a modern variation on the Essiac formula. Recently the herb echinacea has also  been found to be radioprotective. As well, echinacea will kick up immune function, fight infection and clean the blood.


In the next newsletter, we will examine those vitamin and mineral supplements helpful for protecting us against radiation damage.


(Author: All newsletters and blogs are written by Ken Peters who has worked as a nutritional consultant for the last 30 years, and as product designer for NutriStart for the last 25 years.  He has also authored two books – Health Secrets Vol. 1&2.  He may be reached at: kenpetersconsulting@gmail.com)

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