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Seaweed in Colon Health and Nutrition

by Simon Ranger(more info)

listed in colon health, originally published in issue 191 - February 2012

Seaweeds, or 'kelps' as the wild brown algae are sometimes called, are known to assist the acid-alkaline balance,[1] have a prebiotic effect on the gut flora,[2] help protect the gut lining,[3] stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes[4] assist nutrient absorption and metabolism, and thus strengthen immunity.

This verbal mouthful may nonetheless help explain why seaweed is recommended for natural digestive healing by among others, Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride in her GAPS diet Foods to Choose[5] and Dr Robert Gray in the venerable Colon Health Handbook.[6]



Hand over Stomach
Seaweed is Recommended for Digestive Healing and Colon Health

Clinical nutritionist Jonathan Tommey adds these 'brown' seaweed's ability to bind and remove toxic metals[7], regulate fatty acid metabolism and electrolyte balance, restore dry skin and listless hair and improve circulation[8], as further specific benefits in autistic spectrum disorders where colon inflammation and dysfunction are especially common.[9]

That certain varieties of these brown seaweeds provide in themselves a virtually complete balance of all the nutrients[10] also helps explain these claims for such a remarkably broad efficacy. In a conventional diet, a wide variety of foods is required on a daily basis for homeostasis and to perform thousands of complex functions - starting with digestion.

Balance of Micronutrients
A really comprehensive nutrient spectrum is difficult to obtain from land-grown and manufactured foods[11] where the effect of soil deficiencies and nutrient imbalances is well documented.[12] Still more so in special diets, where certain foods are restricted due to illness and therapy, allergy and intolerance, pregnancy, metabolic disorders and weight regulation,[13] and in poor colon health.

The nature of land foods is that each species has a distinct but partial profile, high in some nutrients, low in others, all with some nutrients missing. Hence the need to 'graze' in the wild, or produce a wide variety of land foods. Even then, the mineral content will depend on the growing medium - from soil-less growing under 24/7 lighting to rich composted soil on a biodynamic farm.

Very different from the land, the ocean is a rich and consistent growing medium where abundant seaweeds feed a multitude of species. Brown seaweed is a complete, primordial food which, having no roots, absorbs and converts nutrients directly from this great 'soup' which covers 70% of the planet - the final repository of all the Earth's minerals which Nature has few ways of returning to the soil.

The seaweed, which is also rich in protein, is able to transform these into a unique whole food with not only all the trace elements like selenium and zinc, but the entire B group and other rare vitamins including absorbable B12[14], D, H and K. In addition to chlorophyll, there are other rare pigments like astaxanthin and violaxanthin.

A range of indigestible polysaccharides[15] have been shown to protect the gut wall against cancer-causing bacteria and bind for elimination through the bowel, pollutants and toxic metals like lead and mercury - of special importance in the treatment of obesity since fat stores toxins which are released into the system in the process of fat reduction.

Like green tea, there are valuable tannins and polyphenols. Against the most nutrient dense species of land fruits and vegetables, half a teaspoon of Seagreens dried wrack seaweed has the same amount of vitamin B2 as 100g of blackberries or broccoli![16]. All of this is vital for the endocrine system (so often implicated in colon disorders) which depends on the dietary balance of macro- and micro-nutrients to trigger digestive acids, hormones and enzymes.

Of all the brown seaweeds, the wild wrack species, of which Seagreens currently uses three (Ascophyllum, Fucus, and Pelvetia), have the broadest balance of nutrients and are the most suitable human food ingredients. Seagreens has pioneered the means of harvesting and producing these seaweeds to consistent food quality standards (X - BRC etc). It is "the leading seaweed supplier in Britain"[17] and it's Certified organic production in the remote islands of the Scottish Outer Hebrides won a Crown Estate Business Award in 2010.

Easy to Use, Everyday Ingredients
In The Colon Health Handbook[6] Dr Gray describes an alkalising diet of vegetables, fruits, sprouts, honey, millet and other non-mucoid forming foods as a sound foundation for colon health and nutrition "with seaweed and zinc as supplements".

In the scientifically proven macrobiotic approach to a balanced diet - rooted in oriental culinary traditions - "a small volume of sea vegetables, about 2%, is taken daily, eaten as a condiment, in soup, cooked with grains, beans and vegetables as a seasoning to supply minerals, (and) as a small side dish about twice a week".[18]

According to the last available statistics (1969), this 2% equates to 4.6 grams, a heaped teaspoon of Seagreens dried ground wild wrack seaweed. Coincidentally, Seagreens' scientific research over the past five years at the Centre for Food Innovation in Sheffield, England, has shown that Seagreens can replace at least half of the salt (sodium chloride) in manufactured foods. Since the average person in Britain consumes at least 9 grams of salt per day, this would equate rather precisely to the 4.5 grams in the traditional Japanese diet. It is also the daily amount so many practitioners have found effective in therapeutic protocols!

In Summary, Wild Wrack Seaweed:

  • Protects and heals the gut endothelial lining;
  • Macro- and micro-nutrient profile balances and fills gaps in the diet;
  • Binds and excretes through bowel pollutants and toxins including heavy metals;  
  • Has natural prebiotic effect from special seaweed polysaccharides (approximately 25% of seaweed);
  • Has natural antibacterial properties (eg. anti-candida, prevents adhesion of pylori bacteria);
  • Improves metabolism and increases circulation to the epidermis.

Seagreens has purposefully developed a product range for use in the everyday Western diet as well as in macrobiotics. It easy and safe (and non-allergenic) to include a gram or many grams each day in food or drink for children and adults of all ages, as ingredients, salad, condiment, encapsulated food, or by inclusion in juices and smoothies, or as a tonic or tea. A high antioxidant[19] tonic, easy to make and delicious in summer or winter using Seagreens Salad & Condiment product, is available at www.seagreens.co.uk/tonic



Tonic land glass
Seagreens Summer Tonic

Seagreens® Summer Tonic
This amazing recipe makes a cool Summer Tonic (or a warming Winter Tea). Its deliciously clean, complex taste is packed with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants! The base is Seagreens® wild Pelvetia seaweed, ginger and lemon. To further suit your own taste, you can explore herbal, fruit and vegetable additions, for example Elderflower in summer and Cloves in winter. We estimate that at least 60% of the seaweed nutrients leach into the cold water.
Thanks to Jane Jamieson PhD Edinburgh (www.enabling-health.com) for the original recipe.

Recipe for 6 x 250ml glasses (1.5 litre jug)

  • Add half the contents of a 50g jar of Seagreens® Salad & Condiment to 1.5 litres cold water;
  • Grate and add a good sized Organic ginger root (or 4 Pukka 'Three Ginger' T-bags);
  • Slice, squeeze and add 1 small unglazed Organic lemon and 4 heaped teaspoons Green tea (or 6 Pukka 'Lemon Green Tea' T-bags);*
  • Stir and leave to settle for between half an hour and an hour and pour through a strainer; Store any remaining liquid after straining from the jug.

*In winter, if you want to add a hint of cinnamon, use half the fresh lemon and 3 Pukka 'Green Spiced Chai' T-bags).

Summary of Some Typical Seaweed Nutrients per 250 ml Glass

  • Protein 180mg • Vitamins A 427µg, B group 21µg (inc Folic acid, B1, B2, B6, B12), C 48mg, D 0.024µg, E 0.55mg, H 0.72µg and K 24µg, significant phenols, phlorotannins and compound nutrients;
  • Minerals Calcium 48mg, Magnesium 17mg, Nitrogen 25mg, Phosphorus 3.6mg, Potassium
  • 60mg, Sodium 84mg, Sulphur 72mg;
  • Trace elements Antimony, Boron, Cobalt, Copper, Germanium, Gold, Iodine, Iridium, Iron, Lithium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Platinum, Rubidium, Selenium, Silicon, Silver, Tellurium, Titanium, Vanadium and Zinc.

    Add the antioxidants in the green tea, ginger and lemon and you have a powerful remineralizing, revitalizing and detoxifying tonic!


References
1. H Aihara. Acid and Alkaline. Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation. 1986 - and 7 times more alkalizing than apples!
2. L O'Sullivan, B Murphy, P MacLoughlin, P Duggan, PG Lawlor, H Hughes and GE Gardiner. Prebiotics from Marine Macroalgae for Human and Animal Health Applications. Marine Drugs 8: 2038-2064. 2010. and current research at British and Danish Universities.
3. J Pearson et al.. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. November 2006.
4. S Ikegami et al. Effect of viscous indigestible polysaccharides on pancreatic biliary secretion and digestive organs in rats. Journal of Nutrition 120: 353-360. 1990.
5. N Campbell-McBride MD MMedSci(neurology), MMedSci(nutrition). Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Medinform. 2007. Foods to Choose also available at www.gaps.me
6. The Colon Health Handbook, 14th revised ed. Available from Bestcare, West Sussex RH10 4HQ. UK. www.bestcare-uk.com
7.Y Tanaka et al. Studies on Inhibition of Intestinal Absorption of Radioactive Strontium, Canadian Medical Association Journal 99: 169-75. 1968. MY Arica et al. Alginates bind heavy metals, Journal of Hazardous Material. 2004. (in addition to the metal binding properties of their polysaccharides, Seagreens®) also provide a balance of all the amino acids necessary for the production of the metal transporting metallothionines, including cysteine. In the case of the ubiquitous MT haemoglobin, cysteine accounts for as much as 30% of its structure).
8. Research on wild wrack (fucus) in un-controlled trials at the University of Pavia, Italy. Claimed increased blood flow to the epidermis in over 80% of female trial subjects. 1998-99.
9. J Tommey, a clinical nutritionist, Pure, simple, effective and essential, The Autism File, Issue 21 Winter 2006. www.theautismclinic.com
10. VG Cooksley. Seaweed, A Field Guide to Seaweed, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, p. 172. 2007; S. Surey-Gent, G. Morris, Seaweed - A User's Guide. Whittet Books. 1987.
11. The Guardian, February 2006 (quoted in The Week, London, 11.02.06); Changing Diets, Changing Minds: how food affects mental health and behaviour, a joint report of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, January 16, 2006, in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation; Feeding Minds: The Impact of Food on Mental Health, a report of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), February 2006.
12. Mineral and trace element changes in Britain 1940 to 2002 including fruit and vegetables, meat and meat products, cheeses and dairy products, research by DE Thomas DC MRNT based on McCance & Widdowson, The Composition of Foods, 6 Editions, pub. Royal Society of Chemistry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF); M. Crawford, Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University. 2007.
13. Seagreens is doing award-winning research in obesity using its whole food seaweeds: www.seagreens.com/University/Satietystudy2009.aspx. Further data for weight regulation at www.seagreens.com/University PractitionerHealthcareSummaryView.aspx
14. F Watanabe, S Takenaka, H Kittaka-Katsura, S Ebara, E Miyamoto. Characterisation and Bioavailability of Vitamin B12 compounds from edible algae. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 48(5): 325-331, October 2002; P MacArtain, CIR Gill, M Brooks, R Campbell, IR Rowland. Nutritional Value of Edible Seaweeds, Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 65, 12:535-543, 2007.
15. S. Løvstad Holdt, S. Kraan, Bioactive Compounds in Seaweed: functional food applications and legislation, Journal of Applied Phycology, 2011 [Seaweed Health Foundation library - www.seaweedhealthfoundation.org.uk] and see www.seagreens.com/University/HealthCondition.aspx
16. Seagreens Presentation to the Food Industry at www.seagreens.com/Media/Presentations.aspx
17. Organic & Natural Business, October issue, 2009.
18. M. Kushi, A. Jack, The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health, Ballantine books, pp.9-11, 2003.
19. Studies at the Centre for Food Innovation, Sheffield, England and the University of Ãarhus, Denmark, the University of Reading and at SCRI, Scotland: [Seaweed Health Foundation library - www.seaweedhealthfoundation.org.uk

Further Information
"Seagreens® is the UK's leading seaweed supplier" (Organic & Natural Business magazine, October 2009). In addition to Seagreens® own consumer products, many good brands use Seagreens® Certified Ingredients including Artisan Bread, Bart Spices, Pukka, Napiers, Viridian and Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients. Seagreens® Information Service is on Tel: 0845-0640040; info@seagreens.co.uk. www.seagreens.co.uk. Available from the best health & natural food stores.

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About Simon Ranger

Simon Ranger Founder of Seagreens®, has a passion for business and human culture. In 1983 formed the award-winning brand consultancy International Partnership® which distinguished itself for Export Achievement with offices in London, Boston and Stockholm. He began Seagreens in 1997, an Anglo-Scandinavian venture producing wild seaweed ingredients for human and animal nutrition, healthcare and the food industry - now a harvesting consortium in Norway, Scotland, Iceland and Ireland. Through 'brand partnerships' with its manufacturing customers, Seagreens® ingredients are to be found in countries worldwide, getting seaweed nutrition to millions of people. Seagreens award-winning research since 2008 has produced papers in 4 international scientific journals. An American partnership with International Nutrition near Washington DC began in 2010 - Caroline Jackson ask@nutrivene.com. Set up the Seaweed Health Foundation in 2011 for research, standards and education. Contributed know-how to introduce a new international production standard to certify Nutritious Food Seaweed with the Biodynamic Association in 2016. Alongside these activities, in 1990 Simon set up Probono, an international organisation to balance business and human development in and between corporate cultures. The values we demonstrate in our daily transactions, he believes, can change the world more surely and permanently for the good than any ideology. Simon lives in West Sussex, England where he is creating a woodland estate with horticulture, a Japanese garden, natural bee-keeping, and silence at its heart. Simon can be contacted at post@seagreens.co.uk Website www.seagreens.co.uk

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