Kelp is a type of seaweed which is deep green in color. It has high nutritional value being rich in iodine, iron, calcium, vitamins B1, B2, B12, potassium and polysaccharides. The whole kelp plant is used for medicinal purposes. It is first sun dried, before being processed after cleaning. Powdered or granulated kelp is available for consumption.
Sea kelp, Atlantic Kelp, Bladderwrack, Seawrack are some of the other names by which kelp is known. Kelp is used to treat varied medical disorders of the thyroid and goiter and iodine deficiency. It promotes weight loss in obese people, and treats joint pain, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, heartburn, digestive disorders, constipation, emphysema, anxiety disorders, bronchitis and UTI. It is used as an energy booster and to maintain a healthy immune system. Kelp is also applied on the skin for burns, insect bites, to reduce signs of skin aging and other skin diseases.
Kelp for Weight Loss
The nutrient content is kelp like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and iodine could benefit weight loss programs. While there are many claims about its benefits for weight loss, there is very little support to these claims from early research. You do get sea kelp supplements that provide 150-360mcg iodine in a single daily dose. There are also sea kelp powders available which are nutritious additions to vegetarian and vegan diets.
If you suffer from obesity due to a thyroid disorder, then using sea kelp can reduce the iodine deficiency, regulate metabolism rate and promote weight loss. Since sea kelp contains good nutrients, consuming this can balance out the deficiency found in modern diets, improve digestion and fluid balance, leading to weight loss. However, sea kelp supplements do contain varying quantities of iodine and caution must be exercised by those who consume this, especially if they have thyroid disorders.
Women who consumed plenty of calcium had less body fat and gained less weight. Kelp contains 168mg calcium for every ¼ oz serving and also plenty of fiber, both of which promote weight loss. Dietary fiber helps to relieve constipation and improve digestion. Kelp contains trace elements that maintain optimum balance of electrolytes in the body. When we exercise, we lose water due to excessive sweating. At this time, electrolytes also get depleted from our system. Sea kelp which is rich in iodine helps to maintain electrolyte levels and normal metabolism, therefore promoting weight loss. Low carbohydrate diets which are popularly recommended for weight loss programs can cause severe constipation and loss of calcium. Kelp contains calcium and acts as a natural laxative. It can therefore be used as a complementary diet to low carb diets.
How to make use of kelp to lose weight
Apart from those with thyroid problems, kelp can benefit anyone who wants to lose weight by adding it to various foods. For example, powdered kelp can be added to vegetables, salads, soups and baked dishes. It has a mild and pleasant flavor that blends well with other ingredients, besides providing essential nutrients and improving metabolism rates. Kelp supplements can help digestion by promoting efficient burning of fat. A daily dose of 200-600mg kelp can be taken in three equal doses each day along with a glass of water.
Asian foods use seaweeds a lot and these foods are usually steamed or baked rather than deep fried. Deep fried foods contain unhealthy fats that promote weight gain. Liquid kelp is also available and this can be added to tea or smoothies.
Sea kelp can be used only for 2 weeks at a time. Always take a break and start again. This avoids an overdose of iodine which can cause serious imbalances in functioning of the thyroid. Since most of seas and oceans are polluted, it is important to know where sea kelp is coming from. Oceans surrounding Iceland, Hawaii, North West United States and Canada are relatively pristine and pollution free, hence choose kelp which is harvested in these seas.
Those with thyroid disorders must be careful, for excess kelp can worsen their conditions. In fact prolonged usage without a break can lead to greater risk of thyroid cancer and goiter. Kelp harvested from heavily toxic areas will contain arsenic and other poisons. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, those who suffer from iodine allergies or women who are infertile must avoid kelp. Do not take kelp 2 weeks before any surgery for it could slow blood clotting and cause excessive bleeding after surgery. Check with your doctor if any medication you are taking could interact adversely with kelp. Follow all relevant dosages mentioned on the label to make sure you take the appropriate dosage for your age and health condition. Check with your doctor before starting any weight loss program.
Source: nlm.nih.gov, internet research