Your Evidence Based Guide to Seaweed a Superfood for the Gut

THE BIG PICTURE

The first human trials using seaweed by Dr. Pia Winberg, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, has shown that after just a few weeks of using seaweed fibre supplements, as many as 15 completely new groups of good bacteria were discovered in the colon of those taking the seaweed supplement. What was especially interesting was that the majority of the bacterial groups that had been cultivated belonged to the family of bacteria that is very good at producing short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which in turn encourage the growth of the mucous lining in the gut – this is a very good thing. One of the most common tests we complete for our patients is a DNA and culture based stool analysis and we often find that many of the kids are very low in short chain fatty acids which can contribute to inflammation in the colon as well as contribute to the proliferation of an unhealthy and out of balance microbiome. We also often find that many of the kids are low in a species called Akkermansia in their gut. Why is this important? There is evidence to suggest that high levels of Akkermansia correlate with better gut health. What is unusual about Akkermansia is that it does not feed off the food in the colon but off the mucous, the slimy (really good) stuff on the gut wall. Akkermansia seems to strengthen the gut wall and reduce inflammation. Seaweed has been shown to help the slimy mucous layer stay healthy which suggests that it may be playing a part in the development of Akkermansia species.

BOTTOM LINE OUTCOME OF THE STUDY

  • 15 new groups of healthy bacteria within a few weeks
  • Lowered inflammation
  • Regulated bowel movements, especially in those prone to constipation
  • Better blood sugar balance

WHAT ARE THE NUTRIENTS IN SEAWEED?

As well as being excellent prebiotics, they are packed with bio-available vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre and omega 3 fatty acids. Most of the nutrition in seaweed is made of healthy compounds that we need every day and the type of nutrients our bodies can’t manufacture. Think of seaweed as a food that should be part of the foundation of health and should be right there at the core of our dietary intake. The key to choosing the right seaweed is to find a well tested and contaminant free source. U.K. based Seagreens® is a company that has done its homework and due diligence and is one of the world’s leading experts in all things seaweed with every single batch of its products tested for quality and purity.

HOW MUCH SEAWEED IS NEEDED DAILY?

The recommendation is to take 4-6g of seaweed per day for no more than 6 months if using the food therapeutically. For children, it is estimated that  1-2 g per day is the right level to aim for on an ongoing basis.  If you are looking for a reliable source of seaweed products then consider Seagreens®, which is a highly ethical company and has gone to extreme lengths to ensure that their products are certified and free from harmful contaminants as well as being non-allergenic. What is also very interesting is that the Seagreens® species Ascophyllum nodosum has the highest polysaccharide content of between 42-70% dry weight of all the brown seaweeds – the largest group of all the seaweeds. This makes it potentially a very powerful prebiotic to support the gut microbial population. As an added bonus this particular species has been found to be among the most balanced nutritionally.

HOW TO INCLUDE SEAWEED IN THE DIET AND WHICH PRODUCTS TO USE

  • Itsu nori snack 5g pack- most kids love them – they are crispy and salty and utterly yummy. One packet every other day would be great.
  • Crumble dried nori flakes or Seagreens® Culinary Ingredients and add to popcorn or seed and nut snacks for a salty bite. 
  • Bake into savoury scones and muffins. We love the Seagreens® Food Granules or Culinary Ingredients to use in baking.
  • Soak seaweed for 10 minutes and use in soups, salads, stews, pasta dishes, stir-fries. Seagreens® Salad and Condiments lends itself well to this.
  • Chop-up soaked seaweed or seaweed flakes and add to fishcakes, chicken patties, meatballs, meat patties.
  • Have fun making your own sushi rolls or use nori sheets to make cone-shaped hand rolls called Temaki. There are tons of youtube videos showing the “how to” of these simple dishes.
  • Soaked seaweed on its own as a side dish is totally delicious. Add some chopped up garlic and some chilies and ginger to a hot pan of oil and sauté the soaked and patted-dry seaweed for a couple of minutes. Add a dash of tamari or soya sauce et voila you have a bowl of outstanding nutrition that tastes amazing.
  • Put seaweed powder or flakes in smoothies or stir some into home-made juice.
  • Seagreens® Food Capsules are great for those who want a more therapeutic product and prefer taking supplements.

We have absolutely no affiliations with Seagreens® or Oceans of Goodness we just love their products!