What are nutritionist saying about sea moss?

By Wilson Peng on Mon, Jan 25, 21

Sea moss has managed to enter the consciousness of many people over the years. The amount of recipes and talks that have passed around in social media has steadily increased over time. It has gained the attention of many health and fitness enthusiasts and continues to gain popularity because of its excellent health benefits. The Irish sea moss has acquired a reputation that was only known in some regions of the world, and it seems like there is no stopping its momentum as a superfood. 


With the amount of popularity it’s gaining, health enthusiasts will be able to share the wonders of this sea vegetable with friends and family members who may need healthier diets. Even so, most of the people who are talking about sea moss are mostly health and fitness enthusiasts in social media or blog posts. The ones we should be listening to are the health professionals who truly understand the human body. 


Robin Foroutan, an integrative medicine dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, commented in Parade. “Sea moss is definitely having a moment, everyone’s always interested in natural foods with potential health benefits.”


When you search up sea moss, most of the articles you will find are from blog posts giving you a general overview of what sea moss is, the history, benefits, and so on. While this is good and all, there isn't that much coming out from nutritionists themselves. Sea moss may have been a delicacy in certain parts of the world for quite a long time, but it hasn’t been researched much by many people. Only recently have scientists began to sink their teeth into this marine vegetable to find out the real potential behind it. So for this article, we’ve decided to delve deep and see what the nutritionists are saying about sea moss. 


Potential to prevent Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that commonly affects the elderly with no cure of any kind to handle it. This disorder heavily affects movement, causes tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement. Symptoms will start to slowly, sometimes beginning with a barely noticeable tremor in a single hand. Tremors are the most common, but the disorder does eventually begin to cause slowing of movement or stiffness. 


During the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, the face may begin to show little or no expression. The arms may not be capable of swinging when walking, and future speeches may become either slurred or soft. Over time the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease will gradually worsen as the condition progresses. While it’s true that Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, medication may significantly improve a person's symptoms. At times, doctors may suggest surgery to certain parts of the brain to improve the symptoms. 


Early research has revealed that sea moss has the potential to be capable of slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. A recently conducted study with worms showed that extract from sea moss was seemingly decreasing the accumulation of a-synuclein and reducing stiffness and slowness of movement. Studies like these could mean promising results for the elderly who are experiencing Parkinson's disease. Although more research will be required on sea moss to see if it can likely have similar effects on humans that it had on worms used in the experiment. 



Digestive Health

Sea moss possesses a mucilaginous consistency, which means it can assist the body by acting as a soothing and healing agent to every mucous membrane. Recent studies conducted by BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies on animals revealed that sea moss has prebiotic effects as well, causing an increase in production of helpful short-chain fatty acids in the colon, a depletion of detrimental bacteria in the gut, and improvements overall for gut health and immunity. 


Digestion is a crucial part of overall health because the body requires nutrients from drink and food to function properly and remain healthy. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, and water are nutrients. The digestive system breaks down nutrients into pieces small enough to be absorbed and utilized for cell repair, energy, and growth. Sea moss can potentially improve all of this from what we can glean from the study conducted by BMC. Having a healthy and robust gut ecosystem will ensure your body manages to acquire nurturing nutrients but improve the immune system. 


Cardiovascular disease

A cardiovascular disease is a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. They include several issues, most of them which are related to a process known as atherosclerosis. The condition known as atherosclerosis develops because a substance called plaque stacks up in the walls of arteries. The buildup of plaque narrows the arteries, causing a troublesome time for blood to flow through. That can eventually lead to blood clot generating, which can block the blood flow. That will then lead to a stroke or heart attack. 


Heart disease is an issue that plagues many people throughout their life. According to the CDC, a single person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, around 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, which means one in every four deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also stated that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, causing an estimated 17.9 million lives every year.


Taking care of your heart is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, it can be difficult for most to balance some kind of dietary need for this to happen. Studies with sea moss have shown that it can have a positive effect on your overall cardiovascular health. A study published in September 2015 has revealed that adding small amounts of sea moss to foods such as frozen pizza or hotdogs can aid with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 


This type of study shows that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. Being able to consume some of the more unhealthy foods by counteracting them with this fantastic sea moss can see great results. Some food companies have even begun to substitute some of their frozen products with much healthier alternatives. A great example of this would be cauliflower has started to become a popular choice for the crust in frozen pizza due to how nutritious it is. If sea moss has such a nutritional impact, as suggested by the research, then it could become another choice to supplement other foods. 


More doesn’t mean better

While sea moss does have quite excellent benefits taking it in excess can cause problems. If taken excessively, it could potentially affect your health negatively. One of the prime reasons for concerns is due to the large density of iodine contained in sea moss. A small dosage of iodine can assist with thyroid health, but if eaten in excess, studies have revealed that it could cause thyroid dysfunction, including hypothyroidism and possibly thyroid cancer. Excess amounts of iodine can also be severely harmful to children. Iodine toxicity has been documented to cause diarrhea and nausea. 


If you are someone who’s already experiencing thyroid problems, then it’s best to avoid sea moss supplements altogether. That is especially true if you are already taking medication in dealing with said thyroid issues. Speaking to a medical doctor should be done before doing anything that could cause further harm to your overall health. 


Bolster up the immune system

Believe it or not, but sea moss can help relieve and prevent symptoms related to colds and flu, making it a great choice during cold and flu season. Sea moss is known for being a great source of potassium chloride, and this nutrient helps with dissolving inflammation and phlegm found in mucous membranes, the leading cause of congestion. The compounds found in sea moss can act as natural antiviral and antimicrobial agents, helping to enhance immunity and eliminate any infections.


As shown by the study above, this has led to sea moss becoming known as a natural cough syrup. The Irish and Jamaicans were already aware of this impressive ability from sea moss since they would regularly use the marine vegetable to deal with illness. Irish sea moss would become a staple of teas and soups when dealing with respiratory diseases 


Other conditions similar to colds and flu that this moss can help with include:


  • Bronchitis
  • Chesty Cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Sore throat

Furthermore, Sea moss is also rich in antioxidants, amino acids, and Vitamin C, which are all known to help with enhancing the immune system, support immune health, and prevent cellular damage. 


Citrulline–arginine

A fascinating discovery was discovered by Jonas Collen and published in Advances in Botanical Research, 2014 stated that Sea moss has citrulline-arginine. Citrulline-arginine is a compound that improves the bioavailability and increases the skin's energy levels, stimulates the metabolism, and synthesizes collagen, which protects the skin, encourages cell growth, and gives shiny hair.


Skin aging is an issue many of us face and takes quite seriously. Sea moss has been made into gels, shampoos, and lotions. Some people who make their own sea moss gel have even used it to improve their skin with facial masks. If you want to avoid eating sea moss because of health-related reasons but want to reap the skin-caring part, then this is still viable for you to do. Stimulating your metabolism also plays a role in losing weight, so not only will you be getting healthier skin but encouraging your body to work through your body fat. 


Carrageenan health concerns

A report conducted by the Cornucopia Institute made heavy criticism of food manufacturers for utilizing carrageenan in organic foods, something they’ve come to call organic watergate. That is where our troubles come in carrageenan is a food additive that is derived or extracted from sea moss but does not have similarities to whole food sea moss. It is quite often used as a thickener or stabilizer in a wide range of foods. 


The meat of the matter concerning Carrageenan can be found on page 11 of the dossier, but here are several things they bring up in the paper.  


Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and can be classified as low molecular weight, degraded carrageenan or high molecular weight, or undegraded carrageenan. Degraded carrageenan has been recognized as a carcinogen in lab animals and has been labeled a “possible human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Degraded carrageenan can also cause inflammation in the colon of rodents, which resembles ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. 

Degraded carrageenan holding inflammatory properties is not under dispute since the medical research community has used it for decades to include acute inflammation in experiment trials done with laboratory animals. The purpose of this induced inflammation was to test out anti-inflammatory drugs. Carrageenan processes also state that food-grade carrageenan sold to food processes should fall in the undegraded category. Although, studies have revealed that food-grade carrageenan can also be connected to colon inflammation and colon cancer in animals. 


The issue here is whether or not sea moss should be avoided because of the damaging effects caused by carrageenan. Some have stated that it shouldn’t because carrageenan and sea moss are not the same things. While there are valid health concerns when it comes to degraded and undegraded carrageenan, which is primarily used for processing foods. 


Telling people to avoid sea moss because of the harmful effects caused by chemically processed carrageenan is like saying people should avoid organic corn on the cob due to high fructose corn syrup being toxic for the liver and causes obesity. Comparing sea moss to carrageenan is somewhat like comparing goat cheese with cheese wiz. You can’t label a natural food source faulty because a chemically created source has caused issues during test results.


Conclusion

Sea moss is still being intensely studied by the scientific community, and we will gain all sorts of results in the coming future. However, the information that is already out there does show some positive results. Sea moss holds a candle to some of the benefits it claims to have and can be a great organic source of food. Just remember to consume sea moss in moderation, just like any other type of food you would eat. 


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