Written by guest writer and herbalist Taylor Jeffers for Herban Wellness.
We are taught in grade school the basics of health – nutrition, exercise, and hygiene, but what about having health goals specific to the world we live in? Nowadays we are exposed to more toxins on a daily basis, have high-stress lifestyles, and are overfed yet undernourished. Shifting our focus to creating optimal health now is investing in tomorrow.
It’s important to acknowledge the basics of the body’s needs and support the foundations of health. We can do this by providing the body with essential nutrients, ensuring proper organ function, removing things that directly impede optimal health, and supporting a balanced microbiome. The following are primary factors to address when building optimal health.
Deficiency:
Despite the fact that we are a well-fed nation, nutrient deficiency is still a common issue. Nutrient deficiency is not only caused by a poor diet but also by farming practices that deplete the soil, overconsumption of nutrient depleting substances like sugar, consumption of processed foods that are lacking in vital nutrients, and long-term use of medications.
Toxicity:
As a growing concern in our highly developed and ever expanding world, reducing our exposure and ensuring our bodies’ capability to release toxins is crucial. Exposure to toxins like pesticides, heavy metals, medications in our water supply, volatile organic compounds like flame-retardants found in furniture, petroleum-derived ingredients in topical products, and much more are all linked to various issues from allergies to cancer.
Stressors:
The effects of stress are far-reaching. Stress is not just a conversation of mental health but of the entire body. Prolonged stress affects every single organ system and is linked to decreased immunity, digestive issues, cardiovascular disease and so on.
Pathogens:
Like the Earth, our bodies are an ecosystem. This delicate ecosystem may become disrupted through exposure to pathogens and by overuse or misuse of antibiotics. Maintaining a healthy ecosystem requires a healthy gut flora through the use of fermented foods or probiotics, preventing spread of pathogens, and supporting the immune system when necessary.
Creating a plan that is as unique as you:
A truly holistic approach requires a look at our family history, lifestyle, and constitution.
While genetics are not a death-sentence, it is important to know what runs in your family to know where your predispositions may lie. Taking account of your genetic background along with your constitution and lifestyle can provide clues that support your plan. It can be hard to know where to start, but focusing on the basics of nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction are all great places to begin. Once that has been established, herbal medicine can provide extra support.
Using herbs as tools to optimize health:
The most favored herbs amongst herbalist are generally those that tonify the body. These herbs are given the name tonics as the generally support the overall function of an organ or organ system by nourishing and strengthening. True tonics are herbs that walk the line between food or herb but are generally more medicinal or nutrient dense than most foods. By supplying essential nutrients to a particular organ or organ system, the organ may resume proper vital functioning. A well documented example is the balancing nature of red raspberry leaf on the female reproductive tract. Other tonic herbs include nettle, oats, dandelion, milk thistle and hawthorn.
Many herbs are incredibly helpful at nourishing the body as they provide nutrients in a highly bioavailable form. These include herbs such as nettle, oatstraw, horsetail, chickweed and so on. You can add these herbs to your food by sprinkling them in as powders, adding them to smoothies, infusing your oils and vinegars, or infusing in broths. Most commonly they are taken as a long-infusion where they will be steeped in cold water overnight (this maximizes extraction of minerals) and drunk freely everyday.
Herbs such as ashwagandha, astragalus, or one of the many ginsengs are given the title ‘adaptogens’. Adaptogens help the entire body adapt to stressors by modulating the stress response mechanisms. Where there is deficit or excess these herbs will bring back into homeostasis. They strengthen the entire body and are safe to use long-term. While in order to be a true adaptogen they must be non-specific in their action on the body, some herbs will have higher affinities to certain organs or slightly different energetics. For some examples, reishi mushroom strengthens the cardiovascular system, while astragalus is king at strengthening the immune system, and ashwagandha is calming whereas rhodiola is stimulating for most people.
Herbs that are considered cleansing are herbs that promote optimal function and generally stimulate the organs of elimination. It’s easy to overlook this step and sometimes we take this step too far by making detoxification a race to be won. For some, targeted detoxification programs are necessary and should be overseen by a professional. For the rest of us it’s crucial to recognize what can support optimal function of our emunctory organs: the intestines, liver, kidneys, skin and lungs. Some herbs that are helpful here include dandelion leaf and root, burdock root, yellow dock root, cleavers, and milk thistle. Using these herbs periodically to open elimination channels can relieve the toxic burden on those organs and revitalize the body.
Creating a healthy gut microbiome is often considered to be the route to optimal health, as it is commonly where many ailments start. Including bitter herbs with our meals supports our digestive processes and consuming plenty of pre- and probiotics are essential to a thriving gut flora. Some herbs like burdock or dandelion root provide inulin, a fiber that acts as a prebiotic, and are also bitter which can improve digestion. They are optimally consumed as a powder or other whole-root form to provide inulin, and can also be consumed as teas, capsules or even taken as a tincture before meals to prepare the body for digestion and for their other benefits. Other herbs in this category may include specific antimicrobials that can balance out a disrupted flora or fight chronic viral or bacterial infections. Our favorites at Herban Wellness include olive leaf, berberine-rich herbs such as oregon grape root or goldenseal, lemon balm, thyme, and yarrow.
Reducing oxidative stress on the body takes high precedence in the modern world. Incorporating antioxidant rich herbs in your cooking or supplements can dramatically change the way your body is recuperating from the damaging chemical warfare it encounters daily. This ultimately leads to less chronic inflammation in the body. Herbs in this category include the well-known turmeric, ginger and rosemary and lesser acknowledged olive leaf, artichoke leaf, and clove. Essentially colorful foods are the richest sources, so don’t forget your herbs such as elderberry, schisandra, hawthorn berry, rose hips and goji berry! The cell protective capabilities of milk thistle, schisandra berries, and astragalus are an important consideration where any damage is suspected or to be expected with certain types of ongoing medical treatment.
As you work towards supporting your body’s needs from the ground up, you may discover that radiant health was always within reach. The recommendations are intended to spark a desire to focus on the building blocks of health in a holistic way by using what nature offers us. For centuries we have evolved with plants as food and medicine, and this unique relationship can be re-established to create vibrant health for today and tomorrow.

I am going to do a 5 day “Cleanse” or Detox this next week, and I thought I would share what I personally will be doing with those who are interested.  I am not a proponent of intense cleanses, ie those that involve fasting or laxatives, although they may be appropriate for certain people.  And I also am a busy working business owner who doesn’t realistically have the time to take 2 or 3 weeks out of my life to do a more involved detox program.  So I’ve found something that works well for me, while still maintaining my other duties and without starving myself.  I do this regimen when I feel like I’m getting sluggish, whether with low energy or when my digestion is not doing well, which usually go hand in hand together for me.  My skin is not looking so good, my digestion is tending toward bloating, I am feeling down because of the gray, rainy weather…  And I know a 5-day Detox program will do me some good!
So, here it is, folks.  This is Katya’s Detox Regimen, including a day-by-day food schedule, herbal additions, and a shopping list.  The key, I’ve found, is to prepare ahead of time.  If you don’t, you’ll get hungry and cranky and eat whatever is convenient and right at hand.  So, make a plan, a shopping list, and make sure you have everything you’ll need easily on hand, and perhaps anything tempting out of the house or easy access.  This is my plan; modify it to suit your needs!  You’ll notice it avoids all of the major allergens: wheat, dairy, corn, eggs, and soy (except for tamari).  It also does not include any refined sugars.  The idea is to eat as clean and purely as possible for 5 days (or longer, if you so choose).
Please see my other post, Is a Cleanse in Your New Year’s Resolution?, for information on the Cleanse Kit and the detoxification herbs I’ve developed at Herban Wellness.
Day 1:
Upon awakening: squeeze 1/2 a lemon into warm water and sip.  Shake 1 Tbsp fiber blend (Herban Wellness Fiber Blend with Psyllium and Beet) in 1/2 cup water and drink.
Breakfast: 1/2 a grapefruit (or other fruit) and quinoa cooked in almond milk with cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Lunch: Brown rice with steamed broccoli, beets, onions, garlic, and a little tamari/soy sauce.
Mid-afternoon: Green powder blend (Herban Wellness Great Green Nutritional Powder Blend) – 1 Tbsp – shaken in 1/2 cup water or apple juice.
Dinner: Simple lentil soup with potatoes, onions, and turmeric powder in veggie broth.
Snack: raw almond butter and granny smith (or other variety) apple
Beverages through day: 1 quart of Cleanse Tea (Herban Wellness’ Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea), water with fresh lime juice, Detox Drops (liver cleanse tincture) in a little water before each meal.
Day 2:
Upon awakening: squeeze 1/2 a lemon into warm water and sip.  Shake 1 Tbsp fiber blend (Herban Wellness Fiber Blend with Psyllium and Beet) in 1/2 cup water and drink.
Breakfast: 1 grapefruit and a mango.
Lunch: Large salad with spinach, arugula, pumpkin seeds, avocado, cucumber, and marinated beets, drizzled with flax seed oil and fresh lemon juice.
Mid-afternoon: Green powder blend (Herban Wellness Great Green Nutritional Powder Blend) – 1 Tbsp – shaken in 1/2 cup water.
Dinner: Roasted vegetables (pan-roasted in olive oil with rosemary and thyme) including sweet potato, beets, jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), and onions
Snack: celery, carrot slices, sugar snap peas
Beverages through day: 12 oz fresh veggie juice, 1 quart of Cleanse Tea (Herban Wellness’ Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea), water with fresh lime juice, Detox Drops (liver cleanse tincture) in a little water before each meal.
Day 3:
Upon awakening: squeeze 1/2 a lemon into warm water and sip.
Breakfast: Fresh grapefruit juice and 1 quart water with lemon juice, maple syrup, and a pinch of cayenne pepper sipped on through the morning.
Lunch: 16 oz fresh veggie juice.
Mid-afternoon: Green powder blend (Herban Wellness Great Green Nutritional Powder Blend) – 1 Tbsp – shaken in 1/2 cup water.
Dinner: 16 oz homemade veggie broth
Snack: veggie broth as needed.
Beverages through day: juices, broth, 1 quart of Cleanse Tea (Herban Wellness’ Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea), water with fresh lime juice, Detox Drops (liver cleanse tincture) in a little water before each meal.
Day 4:
Upon awakening: squeeze 1/2 a lemon into warm water and sip.  Shake 1 Tbsp fiber blend (Herban Wellness Fiber Blend with Psyllium and Beet) in 1/2 cup water and drink.
Breakfast: 1 grapefruit and a pear.
Lunch: Seaweed salad (rinsed seaweed mix from PCC), tossed with spring green lettuces, cucumber, bell pepper, and a drizzle of flax oil, sesame seed oil, and tamari/soy sauce and lemon juice to taste.
Mid-afternoon: Green powder blend (Herban Wellness Great Green Nutritional Powder Blend) – 1 Tbsp – shaken in 1/2 cup water.
Dinner: A baked potato with flax seed oil and spices to taste and a cucumber, tomato, onion salad with flax oil and lemon juice.
Snack: celery, carrot slices, sugar snap peas
Beverages through day: 12 oz fresh veggie juice, 1 quart of Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea (Herban Wellness cleanse tea) water with fresh lime juice, Detox Drops (liver cleanse tincture) in a little water before each meal.
Day 5:
Upon awakening: squeeze 1/2 a lemon into warm water and sip.  Shake 1 Tbsp fiber blend (Herban Wellness Fiber Blend with Psyllium and Beet) in 1/2 cup water and drink.
Breakfast: 1/2 a grapefruit (or other fruit) and quinoa cooked in almond milk with cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Lunch: Nori rolls with brown rice, avocado, and cucumber wrapped in nori seaweed sheets with tamari/soy sauce and wasabi.
Mid-afternoon: Green powder blend (Herban Wellness Great Green Nutritional Powder Blend) – 1 Tbsp – shaken in 1/2 cup water.
Dinner: Simple lentil soup with potatoes, onions, and turmeric powder in veggie broth.
Snack: celery sticks with raw almond butter
Beverages through day: 1 quart of Cleanse Tea (Herban Wellness’ Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea), water with fresh lime juice, Detox Drops (liver cleanse tincture) in a little water before each meal.
Shopping List:
– Cleanse Kit from Herban Wellness with Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea, Detox Drops, and Fiber Blend with Psyllium & Beet
– Great Green Powder Blend
– 6 lemons
– 3 limes
– 4 grapefruit
– 3 apples
– 1 pear
– 1 mango
– 3 yellow onions
– 3 red onions
– 3 heads garlic
– 1 sweet potato
– 1 bunch beets (3-4 beets)
– 3 large florets broccoli (one bunch)
– 1 head cauliflower
– 2 avocados
– 2 cucumbers
– 1 bell pepper
– 2 sunchokes
– 1 celery root
– 4 potatoes
– 1 bunch (or about 1 lb.) carrots
– 1 bunch celery
– 3 cups spinach
– 3 cups spring salad greens
– 1 cup arugula greens
– 2 cups sugar snap peas (or other edible peas)
– 2 on-the-vine tomatoes
– 1 package of edible seaweed (dry or refrigerated)
– 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
– flax seed oil
– 3 cups dry lentils (any type)
– 3 cups dry quinoa
– 3 cups brown rice
– raw almond butter
– nori seaweed sheets
– wasabi
– tamari (or soy sauce)
– maple syrup
– almond milk (or make your own with raw almonds, soaked over night, blended and strained)
– cayenne powder
– turmeric powder
– cardamom
– clove buds
– cinnamon
– rosemary
– thyme
– 1.5 quarts fresh veggie juice (either from a fresh juice bar or from your own juicer) with less of the sweet veggies (carrot and beet) and more of the greens: kale, spinach, celery, cilantro, parsley, etc.  OR as much as you’d like to drink through the duration of the cleanse!
– make up a pot of veggie broth with onions, garlic, celery root, celery stocks, carrot, beet, seaweed (kombu, kelp, etc.), cook down, and strain to have on hand
– make up a pot of lentil soup to have on hand.
– make up several cups of quinoa & brown rice to have on hand if possible.
– make up fresh almond milk to have on hand.

What is a Cleanse? This is the time of year many people think of as an opportunity to start anew.  A cleanse or detox can mean many things and can be strong or gentle in its action and can involve dietary changes or not.  Primarily, a cleanse involves targeting the primary elimination organs or channels through which our body gets rid of excess nutrients, toxins, or other waste products.  It can involve removing solid foods from the diet, or eating only unprocessed, easy to digest foods for a period of time, and usually involves supplementing fiber to help “sweep” the intestines, some liver and kidney stimulating herbs, and possibly plant-based laxatives. Most people hear the word “cleanse,” and think “run to the bathroom,” but that does not have to be the case and, in fact, I prefer not to have a cleanse involve intense laxatives or overly strong diuretics, so you can actually function in your day to day life. This is also easier on your body!
Why Cleanse? Often, people experience increased energy, better digestion, and perhaps better sleep and mental clarity after doing a cleanse for a week to a month.  So, if you’re feeling sluggish, tired, have slow digestion, etc., or even if you just feel like you have over-indulged lately and would like to start fresh, a cleanse can be a great way to begin a new routine.
Where’s My Liver? Most people have at least a vague idea that they have a liver, kidneys, and a colon; some know where they are and what they do.  When we get to talking about things like the “lymphatics” and the gallbladder and spleen, few people know their function or location.  So, just in case you really wanted to know, your liver is located just over and to the right of your midline, tucked partially under your right rib cage.  It is involved in too many processes to mention here, but is the primary filter in the body, so that means it packages, metabolizes, and neutralizes many things we intake and produce.  It helps filter the blood, removing bacteria and old red blood cells from the blood as it passes through the liver, it metabolizes many hormones including insulin, it detoxifies harmful chemicals, alcohol, and pharmaceutical or other drugs, and much more.
How Can I Support My Liver? Stress, inflammation, and exposure to chemicals and taking many recreational or pharmaceutical medicines all take their toll on the liver.  Sometimes avoiding all of the above can be hard to do, so in lieu of that, many medicinal herbs are excellent for the liver.  Eating bitter salad greens (such as dandelion leaves and arugula), taking herbs in capsule, tea, or liquid extract form such as burdock root, artichoke leaf, milk thistle seed, and dandelion root, are great ways to stimulate the liver to release toxins and many also act as gentle diuretics by stimulating the kidneys, while promoting the flow of digestive juices.  Also, eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods and herbs, as well as avoiding processed food, excess alcohol, and food additives, pesticides, etc. can help make the liver’s daily job a little easier.
Herban Wellness Cleanse Kit:  I have formulated and a packaged a gentle cleanse kit that is designed to last 5-7 days, and will work best when combined with dietary changes.  Below is a copy of the information I include in my “Cleanse Guide”
The main organs you want to target during a cleanse are the liver, kidneys, colon, skin, lungs, and lymphatic system.  Herbs and foods can do that, including fiber blends, liver & kidney herbs such as dandelion root and artichoke leaf, spleen and lymph tonics such as red root and calendula, and fresh lemon juice for the liver. Drinking lots of water/fluids is essential.
Our Cleanse Kit at Herban Wellness contains:
Our Fiber Blend for moving “debris” through the intestines, along with the liver protective and detoxifying effects of powders of milk thistle, burdock root, and beet root.
Our Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea for encouraging movement and gentle detoxification of the liver, kidneys, skin, and lungs, while aiding in healthy circulation.
Our Detox Drops tincture blend is for more targeted detoxification of the liver, kidneys, skin, spleen, & lymphatics.
Modifying your diet in a variety of ways depending on your desired results or the intensity you’re after gives your body more of a chance to repair and restore. Use with the herbal support for optimal results.  Follow for 1-2 weeks.
Options for dietary cleansing:

  • Eliminate processed & packaged foods from your diet, along with fried foods, processed sugar, alcohol, all meat except cold-water fish, dairy, soy, and eggs – all of which are more difficult to digest and are some of the most common sources of allergens.
  • Eat only whole grains, some nuts & seeds, vegetables, and some fruit.  For example, eat only cooked brown rice, quinoa, or oats, freshly steamed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, zucchini, etc., along with optional fresh veggies or fruit juices and fruit smoothies and some low-sugar fruits such as grapefruit, lemons, and pears.
  • Eat only raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables, including fresh juices, smoothies, salads, lightly sautéed veggies, etc. for several days to a week or two.
  • Do a liquid diet, where you only consume fresh vegetable and fruit juices, herbal teas, vegetable broths (preferably home-made), and fresh lemon or lime juice in water, etc. for two or more days.

Other beneficial cleanse practices:

  • Steam saunas and/or hot baths to aid in detoxification through the skin.  Essential oils can be inhaled or bathed in to enhance detoxification, including juniper berry, rosemary, grapefruit, and eucalyptus.
  • Dry skin brushing, using a natural-bristle brush for exfoliating the skin, increasing circulation and lymphatic movement.
  • Mild to moderate exercise that includes deep breathing to aid in healthy elimination through the lungs, including yoga or running/walking briskly outside in clean air.
  • Herbal teas, tinctures, or capsules for a laxative effect if you want more movement through the colon

Please read about my own Short 5-day Cleanse in my blog article here that gives a complete menu and routine for a 5-day cleanse, which you could easily modify and add to for a longer cleanse. 
What do I Eat?
Some menu ideas for a clean diet during a 1-2 week cleanse

Breakfast:

  • Smoothie with almond/rice milk, flaxseed oil, ground flax seeds, fresh/frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, black berries), green powder (chlorella, spirulina, etc.)
  • Sprouted-grain, wheat-free toast or rice cake with raw almond butter
  • Hot cereal (multi-grain, steel-cut oats, quinoa, or amaranth) cooked in almond/rice milk with sunflower, sesame, or flax seeds sprinkled on top.  Use a small amount of honey, stevia, or fruit to sweeten
  • Granola (low sugar) soaked in almond/rice milk for a few minutes to make it more digestible

Lunch & Dinner:

  • Salad with spinach/lettuce topped with bell peppers, cucumber, avocado, beets, walnuts, carrots (whatever vegetables you desire), optional  grilled salmon/chicken, etc. and drizzled with flax seed oil & fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
  • Soup with carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potato, onions, garlic, barley, lentils… etc. in a vegetable soup base
  • Lightly stir-fried vegetables (broccoli, peas, bell peppers, onions, etc.) and tempeh/fish/chicken in olive oil & a little soy sauce (wheat free) served over quinoa or brown rice
  • Coconut milk curry (unsweetened) with vegetables and brown rice/quinoa
  • Corn tortillas (lightly heated, organic) served with black beans, fresh salsa, lettuce, avocado
  • Nori rolls with brown rice, cucumber, carrot, avocado, bell peppers, etc., served with ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce (wheat free) & miso soup
  • Salad/fresh rolls with rice paper wraps, lettuce, carrots, beets, etc.
  • Cucumber, tomato, onion salad tossed with flax oil, lemon juice, and kalamata olives
  • Home-made nut burger/nut loaf grilled and served with a slice or tomato and avocado on top

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a member of the legume family and the seed Trigonella foenum-graecumand leaves have long been used in food and medicine.  Fenugreek seed powder is a component of curry powder and is used to flavor marinades, chutney, and pickles.  The sprouted seeds are a nourishing food and a good way to get some of the therapeutic actions from this herb as well.  Fenugreek has also been used in agriculture as a feed for animals, to increase egg & milk production, and to help animals gain weight.
Medicinally, fenugreek has been used throughout history by various cultures for many things, including as an anti-inflammatory for the digestive tract, for helping heal peptic ulcers and colitis for example, and the skin, for helping heal abscesses for example, due to its healing mucilaginous components.  It is also helpful for thinning mucus in the lungs and helping to clear congestion and can be useful for sore throats, bronchitis, and allergies.  Fenugreek is also considered a digestive aid, helping to increase appetite, better digest fats, and generally help purify stagnant digestion with bloating and gas, bad breath, etc.
Fenugreek may be best known by customers coming into my shop, Herban Wellness, as a galactagogue.  It is known to promote milk production in lactating women and is known for its maple syrup-like odor which when taken in adequate amounts can produce that odor in those taking it in large enough quantities.
Fenugreek has been studied mostly for its ability to help better regulate blood sugar levels in those with insulin and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.  It appears to help increase insulin sensitivity of the cells, therefore decreasing glucose levels in the blood.  The fiber content of the seed, when consumed as a powder or extracted in water for the mucilaginous/carbohydrate components, may be responsible for the improved glucose tolerance in those taking Fenugreek seed.
Fenugreek also has been shown to decrease cholesterol levels and to help prevent atherosclerosis (plaque formation and hardening in the arteries).  This hypocholesterolemic activity has been primarily attributed to saponins and the mucilage (gum fiber/carbohydrates) in the fenugreek seed, and is mainly attributed to a reduction in the reabsorption of cholesterol and bile acids in the intestines.
Fenugreek is known as a nutritive and anabolic food, promoting hair growth, semen production, and milk production.
Primary therapeutic actions: hypoglycemic, galactagogue, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic, demulcent, appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and diaphoretic.
Check out this link for information on sprouting and eating the Fenugreek seeds:
http://www.herbsarespecial.com.au/free-sprout-information/fenugreek.html

This has been a thought on many health-conscious people’s minds: how do I protect myself from this invisible, potentially toxic, radiation that is drifting our way via air and water from Japan as I write.  I think it is a question worth asking, even though there are those who scoff.  I especially think it’s important when prevention and acting “as if” in sensible ways could only provide health benefits. From what I can find, iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days, the radioactive element that can most effect/damage the thyroid gland, but cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years!  It also mixes easily with water and acts similarly to potassium in the body, and so is taken up and processed by the body similarly.  Cesium and uranium both have the most potential to negatively effect the kidneys.  Therefore, it appears that the thyroid gland and the kidneys are the most susceptible to nuclear radiation.
The problem with radiation  in general is that we don’t really know what damaging levels are, and our exposure has gone up as more radiation is continually being emitted around us, from electronics, cell phones, etc.  With the exposure to nuclear radiation through this current crisis,  we may not notice immediate health problems but could experience higher cancer rates years down the road.
How do we protect ourselves?  The reading that I’ve done now points to several things you can do right now, that are generally really good things for the body all the time.  Some of this is based on scientific studies that looked at mainly animals, but people as well, during and after radiation exposure, to nuclear radiation as well as radiation from cancer treatment, x-rays, etc.,  and some is based on information we know about how radiation is processed in the body.
Antioxidants:
Makes sense, right?  Radiation causes free radical damage and antioxidants can help reduce that damage.  Some antioxidants to consider: turmeric (or curcumin at 2-4 g/day, a compound extracted from turmeric, which has been shown to protect the body from breast cancer after radiation exposure), Ginkgo biloba (protective after radiation exposure), rosemary, beta carotene (from carrots, kale, tomatoes, blue-green algae, etc.), vitamin E, glutathione (a powerful antioxidant made up of the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamine;  found in high amounts in barley and watercress, but otherwise is synthesized by taking the amino acids in supplement form or applying a glutathione cream), superoxide dismutase (SOD) (another powerful antioxidant that you can take in supplement form and is found in horseradish), selenium cysteine (found in high amounts in broccoli and garlic), and the brassica family plants (broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.).
Mushrooms:
These wonderful fungi can help protect the body from radiation, probably partly because of a compound called beta-glucan, which is particularly protective to the bone marrow after radiation.  Mushrooms such as reishi, shiitake, and cordyceps are also immune supportive and have many anticancer/tumor properties.  How much do you need to take to be effective?  A typical dose would be 1-2 g twice/day of the powder, capsules, or tincture.  You can also incorporate some mushrooms (shiitake, maitake)  into your food.
Sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda):
This substance appears to bind to both uranium and cesium and minimize their damaging effects on the kidneys, which have to excrete them.  One source I found suggested 1/2 tsp, twice/day away from food.
Adaptogens:
This powerful category of plants is protective and supportive to the body in general.  Particularly of note are Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng), Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng), RhodiolaEleutherococcus (Eleuthero), and Holy basil (Tulsi).

A therapeutic dose of these would be 2 dropperfuls (about 60 drops or 2 millileters) 2-3 times/day of the tincture (1:2 extract would provide 1 gram of herb per 2 ml of liquid ingested), 2-3 cups of tea at 1 Tbsp/cup simmered for 20-30 minutes for the roots and steeped 20 minutes for the leaves (holy basil), or 2 grams of the powder/capsules, twice/day.
Algae & Other Chlorophyll-rich greens:

Chlorella & Spirulina in particular are detoxifying to the body and known to carry radiation out the body, partly due to the chlorophyll content and due to carotenes and minerals in these superfoods.  Wheatgrass is also very high in chlorophyll and shown to help with radiation.
Iodine & Seaweed:
Iodine can compete with iodine-131 for use by the thyroid gland, therefore limiting radioactive exposure.  Although potassium iodide is recommended for high levels of radioactive iodine exposure, it is not recommended for long-term use.  Seaweed and other iodine-containing substances (fish, iodized salt) are better long-term sources.  Kelp, kombu, bladderwrack, and other “brown seaweeds” are considered the best for protecting the body.  They also are a source of trace minerals that are helpful for metabolic processes in the body and have antioxidant effects.  3-5 g/day is recommended, with 3 g amounting to about 1 tsp of kelp powder.
Vitamins & Minerals:
Vitamins E, D3, C, and A are all antioxidants and vitamin D3 has been shown to support immune function, so all of these are potentially helpful.  The minerals selenium, iodine, & magnesium are most cited for their potentially beneficial effects during this time.
What would a good approach be?
I’ll tell you what I’m doing.  I take a tincture (a liquid extract) combining several herbs, including Adaptogens & Antioxidants.  Mine includes adaptogens (American ginseng & Schisandra berry, which protects the liver) and antioxidants/liver support (Turmeric, Rosemary, & Ginkgo).  I take 60 drops (2 dropperfuls) twice/day.  I take 2 – 500 mg kelp capsules twice/day, so 2 grams/day.  I also take 1 Tablespoon of a green powder blend once/day that contains chlorella, spirulina, kelp, alfalfa, and nettle.  I take about 5000 IU vitamin D3 once/day.
It may sound like a lot, but it takes me 5 minutes out of my day to do.  I put 2 squirts of my herbal tinctures in a little water, 1 squirt of my liquid vitamin D3, &  toss it back with my kelp capsules with breakfast.  At some point during the day I shake up my green powder in about 4 oz of water in a jar and get it down as quickly as possible (you could alternatively take this in a smoothie or with juice).  I then take 2 more squirts of my tincture and 2 more kelp capsules with dinner.  And I’ve done my best at getting in some good nutrients for the day, including broccoli and kale.  I was, by the way, doing all of this except for the faithful taking of my kelp capsules, before I found out about the nuclear radiation from Japan.
My hope in sharing this information is to empower you with tools you can incorporate into your life to help protect you from the radiation we are going to be exposed to in some degree over the weeks/months to come.   It is better to act than to ignore this potential danger or to freeze in fear.  Please give feedback/insights and feel free to ask questions.