This post is dedicated to a friend of mine, and was born out of my concern for her, as she flies often.
Low-level radiation is like a killer, because we can’t see it, feel I, hear it, taste it, or smell it. I am not talking about just nuclear weapons, but rather the low levels of exposure we are continuously exposed to on an every day basis.
First off, what is radiation? In the broadest definition, it is the process in which the energy in the form of, for instance, light or heat, is sent out through space. The different types of radiation are classified according to the electromagnetic spectrum by their wavelength and frequency. One end of the spectrum is the “low energy” forms of radiation, which include radio and television waves. These forms have long wavelengths and low frequencies. As we go up the spectrum and the wavelengths become shorter and the frequencies higher, the spectrum expands to include microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultra-violet light, x-rays, and gamma rays. When me move towards this high end of the spectrum, the radiation energies have a special power known as ionization. X-rays and gamma rays, when they pass through a cell, can separate electrons from their atoms and endow these runaway electrons with higher amounts of energy. The result may be tissue damage in many different forms- from cancer to genetic and birth defects.
What are sources of radiation in our lives? Nuclear weapons and nuclear waste is one obvious source. Radon is another. But what I want to really talk about today is everyday, low-level forms of radiation, which emanate from such devices as microwaves, high-voltage power lines, radio transmitters, and cell phones. For years, our society has maintains that exposure to low levels of electromagnetic waves are harmless, but evidence is mounting that all this exposure to low-level radiation is indeed much more harmful that previously thought.
What is also a major source of radiation exposure? Flying in an airplane. The higher up the plane goes in the atmosphere the more radiation we are exposed to. In a flight from (only!) Los Angeles to San Fancisco there is said to be a tenfold increase in radiation (as measured by a mini-Geiger counter) that jumps from 12 to 125 radiations per minute when the plan is leveled off at the maximum flight pattern.
What does this really mean? An airplane flying coast to coast will expose the flyer to several hundred milliards (1/1000 of a rad). The average dose for medical X-rays is 300-500 millirads for pelvic X-rays, 100-1000 millirads for a full facial dental X-ray, and 10-500 millirads for chest X-rays. That means that one single flight may expose us to the same or possibly more radiation than a full chest X-ray (!).
This is a big problem because as we know, continual exposure to low-level radiation produces free radicals, a major cause of premature aging and health problems. Free radicals can cause cross-linking among tissue proteins (wrinkles!), inflammation, disrupt and/or deplete the immune system, and can produce mutations. Many researchers in the field of aging agree that free-radical destruction is the basis of aging, or at least always goes along with the aging process.
Dr. Abram Petkau stated (reported from the Radiological Physics Dept. at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine) that the free-radical effect from chronic low radiation exposure to be 1,000 times greater than a single large exposure (!). John Gofman, Ph.D., M.D writes in Radiation and Human Health, “Harm in the form of excess human cancer occurs at all doses of ionizing radiation, down to the lowest conceivable dose and dose rate.” Perhaps the most succinct summary is given by Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, who was the director of the Health Physics Division a the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for 30 years:
“There is no safe level of exposure and there is no dose of radiation so low that the risk of malignancy is zero… the genetic risks, and especially those associated with recessive mutations, may be as harmful and debilitating to the human race as the increases of cancer.”
THERE IS SOMETHING WE CAN DO
Okay, sorry for all the doom and gloom! But I say these things as we should at least be aware of radiation exposure.
And I am happy to say that there are things we can do in our diet to help minimize the effect of radiation. How can food help? First off, if we have enough essential vitamins and minerals in our system, the cells become saturated with minerals and there may be less opportunity for the radioactive minerals to be absorbed into our systems. Second, there are certain specific foods which can actively help draw the radioactive materials to them and pull them out of the body (chelation). Thirdly, if we eat foods very high in antioxidant nutrients and enzymes, it will help squash out the free radicals created by radiation exposure.
Anti-Radiation Foods that Fit into Our Above 4 Criteria
– Swiss chard
– Turnip greens
– Mustard greens
– Spinach (no surprise here, all greens!)
– Bee pollen
– Siberian ginseng
What else can we do besides loading up on these foods? Don’t smoke! Don’t live near nuclear plants, avoid unnecessary diagnostic X-rays, and use infrared saunas whenever possible. Check out my post on cell phones, and wear that wired (not Bluetooth) headset.
It is critical if you fly often that you eat only the best food while flying on the day. You want to give your body the best to help combat the radiation as much as possible. That IS NOT the time to splurge on the fast food chains found in all airports. Rather, bring healthy snacks and be sure to drink your Green Smoothie before you leave for the airport. For some healthy travel snack ideas, check out my blog called, “Easy Travel Snacks.”
Be aware, and take care.