by Lisa Flores
So after a conversation with my mother about the overwhelming daily radiation we are now exposed to as a result of cell phones and the rapidly growing Wi-Fi signals, I began to think about iodine. Even though companies will tell you that Wi-Fi and cell phones are low-levels of radiation, I was considering how many sources of low-level radiation that my family is exposed to on a daily basis.
We have 6 cell phones in our house, all of which connect to a tower and receive signals through radiation waves. In addition, we have a Wi-Fi router that never gets turned off. On top of that, 5 of my neighbors have Wi-Fi routers turned on 24/7 that have signals strong enough to radiate through my home (evident from my computer when I look at internet connections available to me via Wi-Fi). I then considered what happens when we leave the house, and I came to realize that schools and businesses all have commercial strength Wi-Fi routers (even stronger radiation) in which my entire family are exposed to daily at work and school. Lastly, I’ve seen an ever-growing number of businesses offering free Wi-Fi to customers thus even when we go out to eat or shop, we are still being exposed.
This left me to wonder, “Don’t all of these ‘low-levels’ add up?” What about the fact that the devices we use radiation signals to operate (phones, laptops, tablets, and more) are all used in close proximity to our body and even directly touching us at most times? In addition to that, I pondered, “What are the long-term effects of all of these ‘low-levels’ of exposure?”
The answer is that we don’t know yet because cell phones just became increasingly popular 15 years ago, and Wi-Fi only in the last 5 or so years. Very little research has been conducted to explore the long-term effects. It took over 40 years for us to figure out that smoking was bad for us after all, and its effects killed many people in the meantime. Kind of scary, right? I’m not willing to wait for the research results when I know that there’s potential for the long-term effects to be catastrophic for our brains, increased cancer rates, and infertility.
Now how does radiation prompt me to think about iodine? Well, I was thinking about one line of defense that our bodies have against harmful radiation: which is a healthy thyroid filled with plenty of iodine. Without a thyroid full of iodine, our bodies will absorb radiation around us to help the thyroid function, but this radiation could be harmful. So I started thinking about what I could do for my family immediately. First, I’ve began unplugging the Wi-Fi router at night, and I now insist that everyone turns their cell phones off at night as well. We don’t use any of it during that time anyway. Beyond that, I also wanted to increase our intake of iodine, but I needed to learn more about iodine and the best ways to do so. I began researching multiple sources on this subject and quite frankly, I was appalled at what I learned. I thought I’d share what I’ve come to know about iodine.
Did you know until the early 1980’s, the U.S. used iodine in flour and commercial baked goods? One slice of bread was a daily source of iodine. However, Americans started eating more bread and there was concern of Americans consuming too high of an iodine dose on a daily basis. However the ideal daily amount of iodine intake according to the FDA was calculated based on how much iodine would be needed per day in order to avoid goiter (an enlarged thyroid mostly caused by iodine deficiency which left untreated can lead to death particularly in infants). No other considerations were taken. It’s interesting though that the Japanese consume 50 times the U.S.’s guideline for ideal daily iodine intake.
So what happened after the early 1980’s with flour and baked goods? Well, iodine was replaced with bromine (or its other forms: bromide/bromate) as a dough conditioner. Not only does the human body not require bromine as a nutrient like it does iodine, but it actually interferes with the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine. This is especially harmful in women as improper thyroid function affects the body’s ability to maintain proper estrogen levels which in turn contributes to high rates of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers. There is quite a bit of research that breast cancer patients have very low iodine levels. Although, guess which country has the lowest incidence of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer…. Japan.
Since bread no longer contains it, now where can we obtain our daily dose of iodine? Most of us know that much of the salt in the U.S. is iodized, and I suppose we are expected to receive enough iodine from this daily source. However, the amount of iodine we can obtain from iodized salt is very minimal, and additionally, 85% of it evaporates once the salt is opened. Furthermore, with blood pressure and heart issues on a rapid rise, many people are advised by their doctors to cut down on salt. If we can’t depend on salt for our daily dose of iodine, then where can we turn?
That leaves us with obtaining iodine from food sources. I began researching which foods are rich with iodine in order to add those to my grocery list immediately. But here we go again; I found issues with using food as a source as well. Why? It’s because the list of foods rich in iodine is a general guide as to which foods SHOULD contain a high amount of iodine if properly grown. It turns out that much of the produce grown today is done so in soil which is depleted of nutrients including iodine. In order to grow crops in nutrient depleted soils, chemical fertilizers are used. China is now using fertilizers enriched with iodine in order to combat their high infant mortality rate, but iodine is not widely used in fertilizers in the U.S. There’s no guarantee that produce which should have high iodine content really does have it. Not every piece of produce on its way to the store is checked for its actual iodine content. Additionally, many use kelp as an iodine supplement, but there are some concerns there as well since arsenic and other toxins have been found in some kelp. Kelp is grown in our sea waters which are known to have many contaminants just like the rest of our food supply.
Now what options does that leave? I learned that a liquid iodine/potassium solution called Lugol’s Solution was invented in the early 1800’s and was widely used in medicine until antibiotics came along. It was discovered at that time that there needed to be a balance of potassium with the iodine in order for the thyroid to absorb it properly. This balanced solution was a strong germicide and antifungal. However, the DEA has since intervened and now regulates the sale of iodine at higher than 2% potency (a much weaker strength than the original formula). It’s not easy to purchase as you might not find it in stores, and many have long forgotten the beneficial results from it.
Because Lugol’s Solution is now watered down for DEA regulations, and the purity and potency are inconsistent within the various products available, it is recommended that those who wish to supplement iodine should take the pill form of potassium iodide. Its potency and purity are consistent, and it’s legally sold in formulations containing higher than the 2% maximum allowed iodine in the liquid solution. Of course the U.S. guidelines will warn against over-dosing iodine, but again, the Japanese safely take in 50 times what we do on a regular basis. Although it is important to know the symptoms of iodine over-dose so that you may recognize it since too much of any vitamin or mineral can be toxic. Another caution that should be heeded is to gradually increase iodine in your system rather than flooding it all at once. Swift changes of anything new in our system can cause adverse side effects. Make sure and research recommended dosing amounts for iodine, and read the labels of anything you purchase.
Just when you thought I gave you a good solution, I need to address one more problem. It goes back to the bromine that is now added to bread instead of iodine as a dough conditioner. Remember that I earlier stated that bromine in all its forms interferes with our thyroids’ absorption of iodine. Thus just adding a daily supplement of iodine may not be enough. This is worrisome since iodine deficiencies can cause a host of health problems, and some sources estimate that 2 billion people are at risk of deficiency.
Bromine was ruled in U.S. courts in the early 1930′s to be unfit for food, but the ruling was never enforced due to special interest groups although it wasn’t widely used in the U.S. until the 1980′s. However by the 1990’s, most of Europe, Canada, Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and some other countries banned the use of bromine in food products. By the early 2000’s, China and Sri Lanka joined the list of countries to ban bromine in food. In 1991, the U.S. FDA encouraged companies to voluntarily stop bromating products. Yet, still today the FDA has it listed as a safe additive for food, and only California requires a warning on the label when bromated flour is used.
Besides commercial baked goods, we are also exposed to bromine in pesticides, plastics, water, clothing dyes, toothpaste, and more. They even put it in some sodas for enhanced flavor. The most toxic substance found on the interior of cars is bromide (from the manufacturing of the interior). We ingest it, breathe fumes of it, and absorb it into our skin. Other than interfering with thyroid function, research shows it is also linked to other malfunctions involving hearing, skin, mental, and kidney functions.
Lots of bad news, right? Well I do have one potential piece of good news. Flour might not actually be so bad for us when it is unbleached and unbromated (and of course, organic whole-grain is best). Much of the havoc reeked in our bodies thought to be caused from flour, may actually be caused from the bromine and chlorine from the bleaching and bromating processes. Of course, I should point out that even if unbleached, unbromated, organic, whole-grain flour is found to be beneficial to our health, we know from experience that all things should be in moderation.
So what will I do now? Ultimately, I will be making some changes for my family. I will make a more conscious effort to reduce radiation exposure within my home. I’ve read that wired internet versus wireless is the safest to reduce radiation, but you may still have your neighbor’s Wi-Fi radiation creeping inside at least until our regulations change. I’ve also purchased potassium iodide supplements in pill form for my family. Lastly, I only purchase unbleached and unbromated flour and continue to methodically read labels on packaged foods. Since much of the commercial baked breads on the market are made with bromated flour, I will resort to making homemade breads which happens to be easy and inexpensive anyway. Homemade breads also help us avoid a host of other potentially harmful ingredients including high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. I encourage you to look into these issues further and decide if you should make some changes at home as well.
About the author: Lisa Flores is a free-lance writer that in no way claims to be an expert on the topics in which she writes. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree and claims to conduct her informal research as a mother and wife that desires for her family to live life in the healthiest manner possible. She shares her informal research in order to bring awareness to a topic, yet she encourages readers to further research these topics for themselves. No statements made by her should be regarded as factual but merely as her personal insight, and individuals are responsible for conducting their own research. Making changes to a diet, including supplements, should be done so under the care and supervision of a medical doctor.