4 Immunity Benefits Of Eating Seaweed
After facing a global pandemic, the world’s collective population has its eyes on immune health. While immunity has always been important, many people don’t often think about the immune system and what it does for their bodies.
The immune system protects the body against pathogens and disease. When it’s at its best, it protects you from developing chronic diseases like cancer, and you are safer from the threat of pathogens such as the COVID-19 virus.
However, when the immune system does not function at its highest level, the body is susceptible to sickness and health conditions. While your immunity doesn’t protect you from ever getting sick, it works to ensure illness doesn’t turn into something more severe or life-threatening.
Several foods sit at the top of the immunity boosting list – one of which you might not be aware of: seaweed! So what are some of the immunity benefits of eating seaweed? Read on to find out.
Is eating dried seaweed good for you?
Seaweed is a form of algae. It grows in the ocean and acts as a food source for a vast collection of sea creatures. There are different types of seaweed, including green, red, brown, and black seaweed. While the color of the seaweed that’s typically eaten by humans is purplish-red in the water, when dried, it turns dark green.
Dried green seaweed possesses many health benefits, making it a perfect choice for a healthy snack or as an addition to a main dish. Some of its most surprising health benefits include:
- Supporting the function of the thyroid
- Providing the body with essential vitamins and minerals
- Offering a good amount of protective antioxidants
- Supporting a healthy gut
- Promoting healthy weight management
- Reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes
These plentiful health benefits are great reasons to incorporate seaweed into your meal repertoire. But what about immune health?
Is seaweed good for the immune system?
When it comes to immune health and seaweed, this tasty snack can be a great addition to the diet because of its many beneficial ingredients and properties. There are several immunity benefits of eating seaweed – we’ve rounded up the top four below.
1. Vitamins and minerals
The immune system relies heavily on nutrition. People in the Western world are often deficient in at least one vitamin or mineral due to eating a heavily processed diet. In some cases, those deficiencies can severely hinder the immune system’s ability to protect against illness and disease.
Eating seaweed can decrease your risk of deficiency in several nutrients that the immune system needs. One of the most critical immune-boosting nutrients found in seaweed is iron. The innate immune system uses this mineral as it alerts the rest of your immunity to step into action.
B vitamins such as thiamine and riboflavin are also in seaweed. They play a role in how the cells of the immune system function. Without enough B vitamins, your immunity may falter.
2. Disease-fighting compounds
Certain marine plant compounds found in seaweed lend a helping hand to how the immune system functions. These compounds are known as polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate. When people consume enough polysaccharides, they can reap immunity benefits because the compounds act as an extra tool in activating the immune system. Polysaccharides are also crucial for immunity because they can reduce inflammation and regulate certain substances that work with the immune system to fight disease.
Studies show that these compounds can also protect against illness by blocking viruses from entering cells. Since that is how viruses spread through the body, polysaccharides can aid in localizing an infection so other immune system cells can easily take care of it.
Antioxidants are essential to keep free radicals from building up in the body. Free radicals are unstable atoms that damage cells, including immune cells. While free radicals are always floating around in the body, they are balanced out by antioxidants. When a person has a good number of antioxidants, free radicals won’t cause any harm.
When someone catches an illness such as a virus, the damage that occurs on a cellular level can also increase the number of free radicals within the body. When antioxidants are plentiful, they can keep up with this increased production and help reduce viral infection.
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers used by the gut to grow adequate amounts of bacteria. The gut bacteria keeps many bodily systems running smoothly, including the immune system. This is because specific immune cells in the gut interact with the gut bacteria to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
When gut bacteria is off-balance, it can hinder the action of these immune cells. However, enough prebiotics can help the immune system by increasing specific proteins known as anti-inflammatory cytokines, which reduce inflammation in the body while reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines. This action keeps the immune system regulated and ready for action.
To say that seaweed is an immune-boosting food would be an understatement. If you’re worried about your immune health, adding seaweed into your diet is the first step in the right direction to securing proper immunity for years to come.
Featured image by Rachel Claire on Pexels