When I was in my twenties, I followed a macrobiotic diet. I was incredibly dedicated. So much of how I live now was informed by that time period. NYC had its own Macrobiotic Center at the time, based out of the gorgeous Cable Building at 611 Broadway, off Houston Street in the Village.*
My first appointment with a macrobiotic counselor took place there. I had moved back home with my parents in New Jersey at the time. I remember driving in on the weekend the day of my appointment and parking in the lot across the street in SoHo(that parking lot is no longer there; neither is the Macrobiotic Center tho’ the Cable Building — pictures at the end — remains). I didn’t expect to be put on the strict program the counselor laid out for me but, convinced of the program’s merits and determined, I began following it instantly.
No hamburgers? No problem. Cut out sugar? Next day. Give up dairy and flour products? Done.
Macrobiotics means “great” or “big life” in Greek. (I go into this more in the B-girl Guide.) It has influenced to this day how I live my day-to-day life. It was eye opening – it’s where – and how – I first learned to avoid toxic chemicals in the home; eat locally sourced food and organic products when possible; avoid sugar and dairy; the problems with pesticides in our food and environment; why it’s best to wear natural fibers, and how I came to explore acupuncture, meditation & so much more.
One thing that always stood out to me at the time was hearing repeatedly how after Hiroshima people who followed certain macrobiotic protocols were able to avoid the radiation’s harmful effects.
Of course, we have to know what we’re dealing with to respond properly and that is one of the problems post-Fukushima disaster, as it continues to unfold.
INFORMATION POST-FUKUSHIMA TO JOURNALISTS HAS BEEN RESTRICTED
Vivian Norris wrote a very comprehensive piece May 9th at the Huffington Post: Deadly Silence on Fukushima. She wrote, “People need answers, data and honest information to help them deal with what is going on. Media blackouts, propaganda and greedy self-interested industries, of any kind, who allow human beings’ health to be affected, and deaths to occur, must be stopped now.”
Alarmingly, she reported how, during the first few months after the disaster (which remains on-going), access to information on the situation for freelancers, internet and “foreign media” has been restricted by both the government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company):
… access has been limited in two ways. First, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio holds twice daily press conferences for representatives of the big Japanese media, registered representatives of freelance and internet media are limited to a single press conference per week. Second, in contrast to Japanese media who are briefed regularly by Edano and periodically by Prime Miniser Kan, foreign media are briefed exclusively by administrative staff.
Uesugi also notes that at TEPCO press conferences, which are now being held at company headquarters, foreign correspondents and Japanese freelancers regularly ask probing questions while mainstream journalists simply record and report company statements reiterating that the situation is basically under control and there is nothing to worry about. One reason for this, Uesugi suggests, is that TEPCO, a giant media sponsor, has an annual 20 billion yen advertising budget. “The media keeps defending the information from TEPCO!” “The Japanese media today is no different from the wartime propaganda media that kept repeating to the very end that ‘Japan is winning the war against America,’” Uesugi exclaimed.
Uesugi is a Japanese journalist who has been a bit of a muckraker, revealing much that the Japanese government and TEPCO have attempted to keep quiet. Now some months have gone by and The L.A. Times reported the other day that distrust runs deep by the Japanese people as to whether their government is informing them adequately.
Clearly for our own self-preservation and that of our planet, we need to be on top of this. Here in the U.S., it’s possible food on the West Coast is being affected as well as products we may consume with origins in Japan and elsewhere which need to be monitored (radiation monitoring in Japan is voluntary and conducted by consumer groups and the companies themselves).
MACROBIOTIC FOOD PROTOCOLS
In the Huffington Post piece, Norris references the use of macrobiotics in preventing radiation’s harmful effects from the director of the Department of Internal Medicine in Nagasaki in August 1945 -
Macrobiotic Diet Prevents Radiation Sickness Among A-Bomb Survivors in Japan
Most patients in the hospital, located one mile from the center of the blast, survived the initial effects of the bomb, but soon after came down with symptoms of radiation sickness from the fallout that had been released. Dr. Akizuki fed his staff and patients a strict macrobiotic diet of brown rice, miso soup, wakame and other sea vegetables, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt and prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets. As a result, he saved everyone in his hospital, while many other survivors in the city perished from radiation sickness.
“I gave the cooks and staff strict orders that they should make unpolished whole-grain rice balls, adding some salt to them, prepare strong miso soup for each meal, and never use sugar. When they didn’t follow my orders, I scolded them without mercy, ‘Never take sugar. Sugar will destroy your blood!’”…
“This dietary method made it possible for me to remain alive and go on working vigorously as a doctor. The radioactivity may not have been a fatal dose, but thanks to this method, Brother Iwanaga, Reverend Noguchi, Chief Nurse Miss Murai, other staff members and in-patients, as well as myself, all kept on living on the lethal ashes of the bombed ruins. It was thanks to this food that all of us could work for people day after day, overcoming fatigue or symptoms of atomic disease and survive the disaster” free from severe symptoms of radioactivity.”
(Sources: Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D., Nagasaki 1945 (London: Quartet Books, 1981); Tatsuichiro Akizuki, “How We Survived Nagasaki,” East West Journal, December 1980)
In addition, this piece from Kushi Institute (one of a few premier Macrobiotic Centers; located outside of Boston) senior teacher and macrobiotic counselor John Kozinski, “Ideas to Protect Yourself from Harmful Radiation,” has some excellent guidelines:
There are some natural foods that will help if you have radiation exposure. Here is a list with some explanations:
Leafy greens: stimulate the colon and help the liver discharge radiation from the body.
Fermented foods: have the same effect as leafy greens. These include miso, natural cucumber pickles, and fermented sauerkraut. The best quality pickles are homemade or found in the refrigerated section of the store. They do not have vinegar as an ingredient.
Avoid or limit sugars. These will ferment in the gut and interfere with elimination.
Eat moderate amounts of grains and cooked vegetables, small amounts of beans regularly and fish along with some cooked fruit, healthy fats and natural seasonings. If you eat other forms of animal foods, be moderate. Excessive amounts will interfere with digestion.
Good quality saturated fats block the toxicity of radioactive ions such as avocado and coconut oil. Increase these in times of a nuclear disaster.
Fatty fish: fat soluble vitamins in fatty fish like wild salmon or sardines aid elimination. Eat more often in a disaster.
Kelp tablets from clean waters or kombu powder made from kombu from clean waters. The natural iodine can replace the potassium iodine pills. Take a pill every 1-2 hours if exposed to radiation. North American Herb and Spice Company has good quality kelp under the name, PureKelp.
Miso has a substance that will remove radiation from the body. Prepare soups and season with a strong taste of miso if there is nuclear disaster. Drink 3 cups per day.
Umeboshi Plums: Take 1-2 daily. This will stimulate the liver and colon to eliminate radiation.
Supplements for Radiation disasters: organic selenium, 200 micrograms every hour for one week then 600 micrograms daily. Vitamin E: 400 IU every hour for 1-2 days, then 2400 IU daily. Buy Vitamin E as mixed tocopherols and/or tocotrienols.
Chlorella: 2 – 500 mg. capsules 3 times per day or follow directions on the bottle
RADIATION – ALL FORMS THE SAME?
Dr. Christiane Northrup (who wrote a great book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom) posted this link on her Facebook page on how to avoid radiation dangers from John W. Apsley – Radiation Toxicity Antidotes.
We are often told that radiation from x-rays and daily exposure we get in our day-to-day lives is the same as radiation from this and other sources. However, there is a significant distinction. Apsley explains it here:
… at least one nuclear physicist appearing on a cable news channel on March 18th has already reported that the amount of radiation that has landed on U.S. soil would expose those proximal to it to “about the same amount of radiation we receive when we get a single dental X-ray.”
Well, excuse me, but once we ingest these particles, they continuously bombard us with radiation for days, weeks, months and even years before being eliminated. This is totally unlike that of a single dental X-ray which only exposes us to a one time milliseconds of exposure. Obviously this scientist has not yet taken the time to review The Petkau Effect.No doubt many scientists will continue to compare apples to oranges by comparing diagnostic X-ray exposures to trace particles entering into our food chain and then our bodies from Fukushima Fall-Out. Or worse, is to hear our officials make statements to the effect that, “Only low levels of radiation have been detected, and these are well within government ‘permissible’ standards which poses no risk to the general public.” All these comparisons or standards are the hallmark of unscientific constructs, since the government readily admits there is no such thing as safe levels of radiation. …
You should be concerned about tiny scattered particles that settle into our tissues undetected, and not worry about amounts sufficient to trigger Geiger Counter alarms going off at airport check stations. The tiny amounts of exposure which are more likely to occur give off constant ionizing radiation that burns us at the molecular level over many years before causing a diagnosable issue.
Physicians for Social Responsibility issued a press release of March 23rd which concurred:
According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer.
“There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”
“Consuming food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the body,”said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The Japanese government should ban the sale of foods that contain radioactivity levels above pre-disaster levels and continue to monitor food and water broadly in the area. In addition, the FDA and EPA must enforce existing regulations and guidelines that address radionuclide content in our food supply here at home.”
All food contains some radioactivity as a result of natural sources, but also from prior above-ground nuclear testing, the Chernobyl accident, and releases from nuclear reactors and from weapons facilities. The factors that will affect the radioactivity in food after the Fukushima accident are complicated.
CONCERNS AS RADIATION DETECTED IN THE UNITED STATES
The U.S. government downplayed any effect on our water and food supply and yet Reuters reported on March 27th, Low-level Radiation Found in Massachusetts Rainwater.
In addition, Greenpeace in May revealed “seaweed radiation levels [are] 50 times higher than official limits, raising serious concerns about continued long-term risks to people and the environment from contaminated seawater.” (Seaweed also being a food recommended to protect against the radiation – so you have to check the source.)
In September, radiation was detected in rainwater in San Francisco.
We eat products from the West Coast; we certainly have access to products from Japan and nearby where radiation has been detected in rice and green tea. We’re all connected through the global market and our air, water, and soil.
WHAT TO DO
With the lack of information coming through from both the Japanese government and the U.S. media, this is another situation where we must do our own research and educate ourselves. We have responsibility for protecting our lives, our planet and the other species that inhabit this earth with us. In effect, we have to take into our own hands the care of ourselves and the earth by reading up as much as possible, informing ourselves, sharing that information, holding our government accountable, speaking out, and taking action. The doctor from Hiroshima above stated that the radiation they absorbed “may not have been a fatal dose” but this remains information worth learning and keeping in mind.
So, stock up and support yourself – good any time – with particularly miso soup, seaweed and green vegetables! Stay informed and involved.
Dr. Mercola, How to Protect Yourself from Nuclear Radiation
Helen Caldicott, After Fukushima, Enough is Enough (On Nuclear Power)
Part I here at B-girl Guide: Update on Fukushima, Japan, The Rest of Us – Afterwards, Now
As an aside, here are some photos of 611 Broadway, the Cable Building, today (Nothing, thankfully, to do with radiation. Just my personal interest.):
*The Cable Building (home to the Macrobiotic Center) was built in 1893. Stanford White, who designed the structure, was a principle in renowned period architecture firm McKim, Mead & White. I first learned of him in writing my Washington Square Park Blog as he also designed the Washington Square Arch.
Chernobyl Top Photo: Tim Suess
Photo (full Cable building): New York Daily Photo
Other two photos: New York Architecture Images
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