The morning of Day 4 of our kelp regimen seems to have the troops up in arms. Or, at least, up to totally ignoring the kelp in the soup pot. Complaints range from it tastes bad to they’re sick of it to deadpan silence.
What’s a dad to do?
With kids 11, 13 and 15, it’s challenging to convince them of the importance of eating seaweed in seeming incessant fashion. And it’s challenging to create new and improved recipes for it. It has a pretty distinctive texture and flavour, so the challenge is how to keep it new.
I don’t know. Based on the commentary within the household, I’m not succeeding. Maybe it’s my resolve to be well, but I can live with it. Others don’t seem to have the same … perception.
Oh, well. As they say, you can lead a horse to water.
In nuclear Japan, we’ve had some interesting events over the last 12 hours or so. Chief among these was another fire in the spent fuel chamber of Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor #4. This is the second fire there, seemingly brought about by cooling system failure. The water in the pool evaporated, partially exposing the fuel rods. As the rod casings break down, the alloy reacts with water to create hydrogen, which then explodes.
Reactor #4 has two holes in the storage chamber exterior walls now, measuring some 8m in diameter. In nuclear terms, the chamber is too “hot” for personnel to enter, so there’s little they can do except try to get coolant flowing into the pool again to keep the rods from melting down. The placement of the holes in the wall makes it difficult and impractical for firefighters to either douse a fire or sufficiently cool the fuel.
The fire seems to have gone out on its own, but the situation with that containment area is very volatile. With sizable holes in the chamber walls and fuel rods sometimes exposed to open air, it’s obvious that significant environmental exposure is a concern. If that fuel does manage to get too hot for too long, things could get complicated fast.
For reactors #1 and #2, things are also not going so well. Cooling has been more or less going according to plan, but they’ve determined that the rod casings are damaged. According to the report I heard, fuel rods in reactor #1 are experiencing 70% failure. Reactor #2 is in better shape in this regard with only 30% failure, but it is the reactor with the damaged suppression pool. They’re not out of the woods there yet.
Reactor #5 continues to be a challenge to cool. Early on in the events, an operator opened a valve to release pressure, but the result was that badly needed coolant was allowed to evaporate. Well, we’re all human, and I don’t fault the operator. I sure as heck wouldn’t want their job right now.
The situation has gotten worrisome to the point that we’re likely to send our kids to Okinawa. I’m not sure what my wife and I will do just yet. Work well and truly must go on lest we can’t pay our bills, yet it’s disconcerting for me to imagine myself several hours from home working if something really dramatic goes down.
Update: Temperatures continue to rise in reactors #5 and #6. As well, #3 reactor has been expressing smoke and/or steam and the radiation in the area has increased significantly to the point that they can’t get close enough to figure out exactly what’s going on. More later as I get more information …
As I’ve mentioned over a couple of posts and comments, one of the gravest concerns in radiation emergencies is a compromised immune system. Unfortunately for many people, a compromised immune system is a way of life. Adding the stress of radiation exposure to that can be overly taxing to the system. Anybody with allergies, food sensitivities, chronic colds and/or autoimmune disorders is suffering through immune function that is less than optimal. You can help get it back into working order, though!
Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup
During times of stress, it’s common for a lot of us to turn to so-called “comfort foods” as a means of feeling as though the world isn’t such a bad place to be. Chowing down on a tub of Ben & Jerry’s might feel good in the moment, but it’s a huge hit to the immune system and should be avoided. Stress itself suppresses immune function through the release of cortisol in the system. Add sugar and your poor body doesn’t know what hit it.
Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) are, unfortunately, the #1 source of calories in the North American diet. These sugars have the unfortunate effect of literally turning off genes that regulate our immune function. For people who constantly take in large amounts of soda, sweets and carbohydrates (complex or otherwise, it really doesn’t matter), the risk of permanently turning off these immune system-related genes is very real.
The best and easiest thing you can do to improve your immune function, therefore, is to lay off the processed foods, sweets, sugars and cereals.
Vitamin Protocol for Preventing DNA Damage
Once we’re dealing with doses of radiation much larger than ~100 mSv (millisieverts), we’re looking at reduced white cell counts and depressed immune function. Here is a quick rundown of a few vitamins you can work with to help optimize immune function in the face of compromise:
- Vitamin C: This water-soluble vitamin is deemed safe in megadoses and, in fact, has even been used intravenously by conventional MDs to treat cancer and leukemia successfully. IV Vitamin C isn’t an option for most of us, but megadoses of oral Vitamin C up to “bowel tolerance” (the amount at which diarrhea sets in) is considered to be safe. Other primates can produced 10s of grams of Vitamin C in their own body, so don’t be afraid to take a few thousand grams. I have routinely taken up to 4,000 mg of Vitamin C/day for long periods without even a hint of bowel distress.
- Vitamin E: This is a fat-soluble vitamin, so you want to be a lot more careful with your dosage here. From what I can gather, the upper tolerance level for adults is ~1600 IU/day. Do not go beyond that thinking that more is better. Overdose of Vitamin E is absolutely possible and the consequences are significant. I consider 400 IU/1,000 g of Vitamin C to be perfectly adequate (up to the max. of 1600 IU). Personally, I’ve never been comfortable with taking that much Vitamin E and generally plateau at 800~1200 IU/day.
- Beta Carotene: This is the best known pro-Vitamin A carotenoid. Its an interesting vitamin for which we’re just beginning to understand its synergistic behaviour with Vitamin C and Vitamin E. The three of them together make up a strong triumvirate of antioxidant power. Although there is little risk of overdose with Beta Carotene, there is a risk of saturating the liver with fat-soluble vitamins and, therefore, not maintaining proper stores of other vitamins such as Vitamin D. I generally keep my Beta Carotene intake to RDA or twice the RDA dosage.
- Vitamin D: This is possibly the MVP of the Immune Playoffs. More and more studies are indicating the correlation between seasonal disorders such as flu and low blood-serum levels of Vitamin D. This vitamin is normally produced in our own body by getting significant exposure to sunlight. With lifestyle changes negating frequent exposure for most people and misinformation about the how sun is harmful, most people nowadays suffer from chronic Vitamin D deficiency to some degree. The RDA dosage for Vitamin D is extremely small, and it’s been shown that we can easily tolerate 4,000~8,000 IU of Vitamin D daily without issue. I tend to take 4-6 times the RDA on a daily basis.
These are but a couple of ways you can enjoy a solid prophylaxis in the face of radiation emergencies. Kelp and other sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine. Eating a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet that features little-to-no sugars (aside from those found in fruits – not juice! – and vegetables) and taking a supplement cocktail designed to bolster your immune system are excellent adjuncts to the kelp protocol.
If you take the above advice, good. Add to it, though, the words of Douglas Adams: DON’T PANIC! Worry and stress suppress your immune system in very real ways by creating cortisol. Cortisol suppresses immune function and introduces inflammation in the body over the long term. So, along with your preparations, please learn to find some stillness and beauty in your daily life. Slow down and enjoy quality time with friends and family.
As you learn to relax and just act appropriately to what is happening, you’ll find fear and panic will recede. The calmness you experience, even in the face of uncertainty or danger, will be a blessing you will enjoy for the rest of your life. Work toward it now.
Namaste. I See You.