My friend Sara’s book was published just in time, providing facts about the dangers of everyday emissions from nuclear power plants, and now we’re needing the alternative –market-ready new energy generators– more urgently than ever. Why? Because unstable weather and climate are apparently causing the hearts of decision-makers to warm up to nuclear fission. For the first time in 30 years, Canada has approved site-preparation licences for new nuclear reactors. OK, so the Darlington reactors in Ontario aren’t in an earthquake zone nor likely to be hit by tidal waves, but their nuclear wastes are not good news for any life forms on Earth.
The Fukishima nuclear mess – radioactive particles in the atmosphere and leakages into the sea ongoing from March of last year – has made Sara Shannon’s research even more important than it was in the mid-1980s. That’s when she first unearthed medical information about how we can protect ourselves from the harmful levels of radiation in our environment.
So I recommend her deeply researched 323-page updated book, now titled Radiation Protective Foods. Its main point about protecting ourselves is the Principle of Selective Uptake. Certain stable elements in our diet are built similarly to unstable (radioactive) elements. The Principle of Selective Uptake says if we have a sufficient amount of the stable element in our bodies, we won’t absorb its radioactive counterpart. In other words, if we eat enough of the right foods to fill our nutritional requirement for the elements they contain, we will not absorb the radioactive counterparts to those elements.
When I read the first edition of Sara’s book, no other author was discussing this principle — which she had unearthed in a publication in a medical library. Even today, relatively few people are putting that easy-to-understand principle of selective eating to use although, thanks to her, the word has gone out that if we have enough calcium, for example, we won’t absorb radioactive strontium which is similar to calcium.
“But obviously there is a limit, and if there is just too much exposure (to pollutants), then the body can only handle so much,” she said in an email recently. “The main thing now, though, is that we must stop the source of this poisoning.”
Most educated people are aware that nuclear power can be disastrous if there’s an accident, but what’s not well understood by the public is that nuclear power during its normal routine operation is damaging because of invisible releases. Radiation Protective Foods points out that nuclear power plants regularly release radioactive materials as part of their everyday operation. “These routine emissions are described as low-level and safe, but in reality they are a continuing assault on human health and the environment.’
“This health damage includes infertility, mental retardation, cancer, infectious diseases, asthma, diabetes and arthritis. Exposure to radioactivity causes a general weakening of the immune systems of individuals, and damage to the genetic health of the species as a whole.”
The urgent need for humankind to stop building and operating sources of dangerous pollution such as nuclear wastes is why we carry on learning and writing about new clean energy alternatives. The public must learn that we don’t need nuclear fission power plants. Nor do we need oil wars. In recent years those wars have resulted in depleted-uranium dust – from exploded weaponry — blowing around the world in global air currents.
Sara is a nutritionist whom I met about 20 years ago in New York City where she lives. As a working professional she kept up with the scientific literature, and she’d noticed a lack of articles about health problems connected to exposure to radioactivity. A famous author of health books had stirred her interest in 1977 when he mentioned that a special concentration of garlic detoxifies radiation. It planted the thought in her that foods we eat could counteract the hazardous effects of radiation.
As a mother she had listened to her own instincts during the near-disaster at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear plant in 1979, and kept her son out of school so they could leave the city quickly if necessary. The prevailing mindset however judged that as an extremist reaction, and school authorities were dismissive.
It’s not surprising that the vice-principal of a grade school was ignorant about nuclear radiation, because most of us are. Seeking answers to her questions, Sara found that information about nuclear hazards wasn’t readily available to concerned citizens although we encounter low-level exposure to various forms of radiation daily. It’s not only from nuclear fallout, power plant releases and transportation and storage of wastes, but also we encounter non-ionizing radiation risks from everyday technologies such as microwaves.
She persisted through many afternoons in libraries and the result was Diet for the Atomic Age, published in 1987 I believe. It not only presented theories about how certain foods stave off the effects of radiation, it also contained recipes so we can get the maximum protection from those foods. And now that we’re faced with the possibilities of an increasingly toxic post-Fukushima world, the book is being re-released with a new preface and other updates. Radiation Protective Foods is the 2012 updated edition of that timeless book.
The new preface says basically that we can no longer totally count on the use of foods for protection. The situation has gone beyond that point, so Radiation Protective Foods could perhaps be a survival guide while an awakened world society phases out the sources of radiation poisoning.
The 2012 book’s appendix also has new information. Regarding population for instance, surprisingly it indicates that over-population is not the problem.
To Sara’s dismay, the 2012 printed book has a few typo errors, but in my mind those are trivial in comparison to the wealth of information it contains. As the late Ernest J. Sternglass Ph.D. said about the first edition, “Sara Shannon has brought together the evidence that radioactive substances appear to be the single most damaging of all the various toxins, and that it is to a large extent in our power to protect ourselves and our children from their harmful effects.”
The book emphasizes whatever positive steps we can take, and gives ample reasons for action. For instance, have you thought about the connection between health and getting enough oxygen into your body? The percentage of oxygen in the air is down to about 19 percent, compared to the standard reference amount of 21 percent. Oxygen is released by trees and plankton – those tiny plant and animal organisms that float or drift in great numbers in fresh or salt water. Trees and plankton can be killed by radiation. The consequences of widespread radioactive fallout can be described as unthinkable but we’d better think if we want to continue breathing oxygen.
I’ll give the last word to the fearless scientist Dr. Rosalie Bertell, who passed on recently: “Sensible eating is our first line of defense against the military and industrial waste now being spewed into our air, land and water! When we learn to choose healthy food we maximize our life energy and our creative intelligence. I see this book as a valuable contribution both to those trying to survive today’s polluted environment and to those who are unborn and who deserve a real chance at a good life! Thank you, Sara Shannon!” - Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D