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by Steven H Horne RH (AHG) IIPA and Kimberley Balas ND
Iodine is a vital nutrient for good health. Not only is iodine critical for thyroid gland function and body metabolism, it’s also essential for reproductive tissue health. The breasts, uterus and prostate require very large amounts of iodine. It’s also needed for healthy skin, eyes and nerve function. In fact every cell of the body needs some iodine.
Unfortunately iodine is a rare element and only small amounts of iodine are present in most people’s diets especially amongst Western societies. Seaweeds and other sea vegetables such as kelp, dulse and Irish moss are the most dependable food source for iodine - foods which are rarely eaten, if at all.
Besides iodine, sea vegetables are rich sources of iron, magnesium, potassium, boron, silica, selenium and chromium. They are also loaded with essential fatty acids, vitamins (including vitamin D) and water soluble fibers which make them excellent bone-building and tissue repairing foods. Sea vegetables are also known to improve hair color and quality, skin tone and texture, fingernail strength and ease arthritic symptoms.
In the Orient, sea vegetables have been used for centuries in the treatment of cancer. Anti-cancer compounds such as lignans have been found in sea vegetables (kelp, kombu and wakame) which bond to estrogen-receptor sites and so inhibit oestrogen-dependent cancers. Fucoidan, which is found in kelp and bladderwrack, is extremely anti-proliferative against cancer cells. So, adding sea vegetables to the diet could be a powerful way to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Fucoidan also interferes with every stage of viral attack, which is why people who eat lots of sea vegetables also seem to be more resistant to colds and flu.
Because they are high in water-soluble fiber, natural chlorine and potassium, sea vegetables have a protective effect on the heart and cardiovascular system. They can lower blood cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Sea vegetables have a powerful detoxifying effect on the body; not only do they absorb toxins and heavy metals, they also reduce inflammation. When used in baths, the minerals found in mucilaginous seaweeds are also absorbed through the skin, to aid tissue repair. The mineral salts found in sea vegetables also help move lymphatic fluids, so they enhance lymphatic drainage and can be helpful in softening hardened lymph nodes.
Sea vegetables are excellent foods for pregnancy. Lack of iodine can cause stunted growth, mental deficiency, puffy facial features and a lack of muscular development. Sea vegetables can help increase hemoglobin levels and also reduce constipation and stretch marks in pregnant mothers.
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