Secrets of Seaweed
I love seaweeds. They are amongst my most favourite all time foods. They have been consumed by coastal peoples for as long as humans have inhabited the earth.
Seaweeds are some of the most nutritionally and therapeutically valuable foods on earth. They are super high in minerals, contain therapeutic levels of sulphated polysaccharides and are an abundant source of all the known vitamins, chlorophylls, lignans, polyphenols and antioxidants.
Many chronic diseases will improve or resolve simply by adding seaweeds to the diet. Regular ingestion can facilitate the excretion of heavy metals, radioactive elements, dioxins and PCBs from our bodies, promote a healthy immune system, prevent thyroid disease, obesity, cancers and metastases, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, nervous system disorders, osteoporosis, reduce chronic inflammation, inhibit viruses and help regulate menses.
Seaweeds are at the bottom of the food chain and are therefore not prone to bioaccumulation of pollutants, although it is recommended that they not be harvested from polluted waters.
The minerals in seaweeds can help with blood sugar regulation and the polysaccharides in seaweeds slow the absorption of dietary sugars and help prevent blood sugar and insulin spikes.
Most seaweeds have a distinct calming effect on the nervous system and muscles and eating them regularly can often help ADHD, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, tics
and restless legs syndrome. The gels in seaweeds act as high quality water soluble fiber in our digestive
tracts and as food for our microbiome. Seaweeds have proven helpful in many of my patients with chronic digestive problems including yeast overgrowth.
Fucoidans are a class of sulphated polysaccharides found in most brown seaweeds. They have been extensively researched and have demonstrated many beneficial health effects. They have strong immune enhancing immune modulating, anti-inflammatory antioxidant, anticoagulant, cholesterol lowering, anti cancer and antimetastatic activity. They also improve lipid metabolism in the liver which reduces the total amount of serum cholesterol and improves the ratio of good to bad cholesterol.
I have used seaweeds to treat my patients for over 10 years and have been impressed with the results. The only patients who I would caution against regular ingestion are those with chronic hyperthyroidism and those who are salt intolerant. Care must be taken not to overdose and I would generally recommend pulsing the dosage.
Dr Monica Henry is available for appointments at Gore Street Medical.