If you’ve been involved in the naturopath community for any amount of time, you may have heard claims of sea kelp benefits ranging from control of diabetes to sea kelp for hair strengthening.
Although kelp and other types of seaweed have been a staple in many cultures’ diets for thousands of years, it’s only in the past few decades that this marine superfood has attracted the interest of the global health food community.
So what is kelp, and does it help?
What Is Kelp?
Sea kelp is a large brown algae that grows in the sea. It’s a type of seaweed.
Other seaweeds, like red algae and green algae, are closely related to land plants, while brown algae are as different from green algae and land plants as they are from mammals!
This algae grows in large, dense stands known as kelp forests, anchoring itself to the bottom with a “holdfast,” and consequently is found only where the seabed is hard.
The roughly 30 different species vary enormously in size, from a few feet to as much as 260 feet tall, and grow astoundingly fast – as much as 300 feet in a year! A kelp forest is, therefore, a sheltered habitat for animals from fish to seals, and an abundant food source, too.
This organism requires upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water to grow. Sea kelp benefits result from the minerals it gets from the surrounding saltwater as it grows.
Sea Kelp Benefits for Metabolism and Healthy Aging
- Let’s run through some of the primary benefits of adding this particularly potent seaweed superfood to your diet.
Sea kelp iodine can bolster thyroid health. Super Greens contains 73 mcg of Iodine. The recommended daily intake for adults is 150 µg, rising to 200µg for pregnant and breastfeeding women. The tolerable upper intake level of iodine is 1,100µg; do not exceed this!
Iodine deficiencies result in an under-active thyroid, and excess causes an overactive thyroid. Both of these conditions cause metabolic dysregulation.
Blood Sugar Control
Alginate, a fiber found in seaweed, restricts fat absorption from the gut. That sounds like a great way to lose weight – but fat calories seldom result in fatty tissue in our bodies.
Carbohydrates, especially high glycaemic index carbohydrates such as simple sugars, create an insulin spike that makes it easy for these carbs to be converted into body fat. They also set us up for type 2 diabetes.
Fiber in seaweed is different from fiber in plants. Eating both helps to diversify the prebiotics we feed our gut bacteria. Gut bacteria synthesize vitamins and neurotransmitters, and a healthy gut ecosystem keeps our weight healthy.
Sea kelp contains iodine, manganese, zinc, and polyphenols are potent antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, metabolic by-products that damage cells. Antioxidants may help us to live healthier and longer.
It’s thought that a significant reason why many Japanese people live long, healthy lives is the prominent place of various seaweeds in their diet. Around 21% of Japanese meals include some kind of seaweed.
Sea Kelp Benefits to Blood, Bone, and Muscle
- Here are some of the ways eating brown algae can bolster your body’s internal systems and structures.
If you are concerned about your blood cholesterol being too high, you should know that dietary cholesterol does not affect blood cholesterol levels.
We need dietary cholesterol from sources such as eggs to synthesize hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, vitamin D, and other compounds.
High blood levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which lead to a heart attack or stroke, are often a result of eating those pesky simple carbs. High blood levels of HDL cholesterol are believed to have a protective effect on our cardiovascular system.
Sea kelp benefits may include lowering LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in our blood and increasing HDL cholesterol levels. Its vitamin E helps prevent blood clots from forming in our arteries.
Vitamin K and manganese from these organisms work to create prothrombin, a protein required for blood to clot. The iron content helps combat anemia; the copper with it is needed for iron absorption and the formation of red blood cells.
Sea kelp benefits to bone are considerable. Manganese and vitamin K are both essential for bone metabolism via a protein called osteocalcin.
This superfood has enormous amounts of calcium and magnesium. It has ten times more calcium than milk gram for gram, but it also has more than kale, spinach, and barley greens – around 170mg per 100g of raw kelp.
Magnesium helps maintain the mineral balance in bones. Many people suffer from magnesium deficiencies, so supplements containing the nutrient are a welcome addition to any diet.
Magnesium is essential for several hundred biochemical reactions in the human body, including muscle function. And the calcium in sea kelp resupplies calcium channels that activate muscles, making it a valuable addition to any post-workout recovery meal.
The sodium and potassium content help to ensure that our tissues are healthily hydrated.
Sea Kelp Benefits to Other Systems
Sea kelp improves our health in other ways, too. The host of B vitamins these organisms contain helps regulate our metabolisms.
Vitamin A and zinc boost sperm count, and B12 protects DNA, ensuring healthy genetic information in gametes (sperm and egg cells). Sea kelp iodine helps against prostate disorders and polycystic ovarian syndrome and boosts fertility in women.
In one study, a compound named fucoidan appears to lower brain inflammation and protect against neurodegeneration. Copper, aided by manganese, helps nerves develop; vitamin 12 is necessary for proper nerve function. Vitamin A and carotenoids improve eyesight.
A healthy immune system fights off infections but does not target the body’s tissues, as in auto-immune conditions. Vitamins A, C, and E, with zinc, support optimal immune functioning, while sea kelp iodine may be protective against auto-immune issues such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Zinc helps to prevent acne; antioxidants help relieve other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Vitamins C and K help collagen production, keeping skin supple and smooth.
Some people tout sea kelp for hair. Thyroid problems can cause hair loss; the benefits of sea kelp for hair result from increased iodine intake and improved thyroid function.
Kelp May Prevent Cancer
An All-in-One Super Supplement
If you wish to reap the sea kelp benefits, there’s no better option than our Super Greens blend, which mixes kelp with chlorella, spirulina, broccoli, ginkgo, acai, prebiotic inulin fiber and probiotics (beneficial bacteria) into one powerful package.
Together, they create an ideal supplement to improve your gut health and overall nutrition.
Learn more about super greens and start your journey to ultimate health!