Humble miso soup may have saved lives when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Science now confirms miso prevents radiation injury. It may also prevent cancer and hypertension. Here's why you need at least one cup a day.
When the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945, 21 healthcare workers were attending 70 tuberculosis patients in a hospital 1.4 km from ground zero. None of them suffered from acute radiation poisoning.
Dr. Tatuichiro Akizuki, a physician at the hospital, credited this miracle to the fact that everyone was consuming daily cups of miso soup garnished with wakame seaweed.
In a new comprehensive review of both epidemiological and experimental studies, Japanese researcher Hiromitsu Watanabe from the Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine at Hiroshima University confirms the power of miso to prevent radiation injury.
His review also documents the ability of miso to prevent many forms of cancer (colon, liver, breast, lung and stomach), as well as hypertension.
Miso, or fermented soy bean paste, is a traditional staple of the Japanese diet. Soy beans are fermented with sea salt, koji (a mold starter), and sometimes rice, wheat, oats or other grain. The mixture is fermented for three months to three years.
The resulting enzyme-rich paste contains vitamins, microorganisms, salts, minerals, plant proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. But fermented foods are more than the sum of their ingredients. Fermentation gives rise to compounds that have amazing healing properties. Fermented foods like kimchi, natto, apple cider vinegar, and even wine and beer have been called "medical foods."
Watanabe's review of the science emphasizes the importance of traditional fermented foods like miso to prevent disease and maintain health. Here is just a brief sampling of his findings.
Miso Protects Against Radiation Injury
In a series of experimental studies, mice were fed a regular diet, or a regular diet with 10% dried red rice miso. After a week, the mice were subjected to radiation. The group fed miso had significantly greater numbers of surviving intestinal crypts – glands found in the epithelial lining of the small intestine and colon. Damage to crypts is believed to lead to colorectal cancer.