We caught up with Chris James of Chris James Mind Body to learn all about the health benefits of seaweed and why iodine is much more important for our health than we thought.
Slimy, slippery seaweed has been heralded as the new, must-have superfood. Seaweed refers to several species of macroscopic, multicellular, marine algae. The term includes some types of red, brown, and green algae.
Despite its recently trendy, superfood status, seaweed has been used all over the world for thousands of years, but has most notably been a prominent part of Asian diets for the longest period of time. The Japanese have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and one significant, standout dietary habit is their regular consumption of seaweeds.
Seaweeds are found throughout the world's oceans and seas and none are known to be poisonous. There are thought to be over 10,000 species of seaweed, reflecting its immense diversity, both in flavour and nutritional properties. The most popular species is Nori, which is dried in sheets and widely used to make sushi. Other common varieties include Dulse, Kelp and Spirulina.
In Europe and North America, many claims have been made for the effectiveness of seaweeds on human health. It has been suggested, amongst other things, that seaweeds have curative powers for tuberculosis, arthritis, colds and influenza, worm infestations, and may even improve one's attractiveness to the opposite sex!
Whether this is true or not, sea vegetables are full of nutrients. Coming in a multitude of colours, textures, shapes and sizes, all types contain a rich supply of minerals, most prominently calcium, copper, iodine and iron. They are also rich in protein, fibre and vitamins, specifically vitamin K and folic acid, while being low in calories and fat.
Seaweeds contain a molecule known as fucoidans, which are believed to be responsible for numerous health benefits, contributing not just to overall life expectancy, but also to immunity and cardiovascular function - helping to fight illness and disease, lower blood pressure and promote heart health. They also contain high levels of glutamate, an amino acid necessary for normal brain function.
What is Iodine?
Iodine is a mineral needed by our bodies to make our thyroid gland function properly. It can be found naturally (chelated iodine) in seaweeds & marine fish.
When tested, 66% of British adult women tested as iodine deficient. The UK and much of the world is iodine deficient, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring that the UK has a national problem of iodine deficiency. However, policy makers remain inactive, and the public remain unaware of this fact, the very serious health consequences and the simple ways to address this deficiency. Iodine is critical to healthy thyroid function. A lack of it can cause low energy, weight gain, depression, muscle pain, coldness, constipation, heart disease, cognitive decline, and a variety of cancers.
I have a good diet, do I need a supplement?
The chances are that even if you have a good diet, unless you eat a lot of sea fish and seaweed, you could still be iodine deficient. Other chemicals near iodine in the periodic table, such as chlorine and fluoride, displace iodine, so fluoride toothpaste, oral products and chlorinated water can interfere with the absorption of iodine from your diet. Seaweed can be taken as a nutritional supplement in a capsule or used as a condiment and food ingredient.
Seaweeds from the North West, Scotland and Ireland are amongst the world’s best quality and are increasingly consumed by us. Chris James uses 175 grams of organic Ascophyllumnodosum seaweed and 175 grams of organic Fucus Vesiculosus seaweed in each sachet of Gorgeous Greens supplement, amongst other organic ingredients such as organic chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass, alfalfa, kale, nettle, and dandelion leaf. Each sachet contains your recommended daily allowance (RDA). These two different types of seaweed are used because of their superior and dense nutritional profile.
So there we have it...Seaweed could be the most underrated vegetable in the Western world! As well as being a powerhouse of minerals and trace minerals, seaweeds bind to radioactive waste and heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body.