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How Does Seaweed Lead to Weight Loss?
Research has found that seaweed has proven to be beneficial for helping to promote weight loss and for weight management. One of the key ways seaweed has been found to assist this is by helping support the functioning of the thyroid glands which can help avoid weight gain as a result of hypothyroidism. Other ways seaweed has been proven to help manage weight is by helping to reduce appetite, reduce the absorption of calories and by having a positive influence on the body’s metabolism. Some studies have raised concerns about the toxins associated with consuming seaweed and recommendations have suggested that only consuming organic seaweeds is the best way of avoiding this risk.
• Assists the normal functioning of the Thyroid Glands
One of the leading contributors to an underactive thyroid is iodine deficiencies in people’s diet.
One of the symptoms associated with having an underactive thyroid and hypothyroidism is weight gain. This can occur through the lowering of the body’s metabolism thus excess fat and salt accumulation.
Research has found that the ocean and in particular seaweed is one of the greatest sources for iodine which isn’t found in soils and is this very low in plants.
• Contains Antioxidant Compounds helpful for weight control
The compound fucoxanthin in particular has an thermogenic effect on enhancing the body’s metabolism.
The compound does this by also stimulates the production of a protein (UCP1) which helps to increase the burning of fat by accumulating
One study which was conducted on mice and rats found that the weights of abdominal white adipose tissue once fed fucoxanthin were markedly reduced compared to those which were fed a controlled diet.
• Helps to control appetite
Seaweed contains viscous fibres such as alginate which helps to control blood sugar levels and keep your bowels moving.
These soluble fibres also increase the fullness feeling by swelling when entering the stomach and then absorbing water and nutrients.
They also reduce energy intake which in the long term can contribute to weight loss and weight management.
One study found that when the isolate alginate was added to chocolate milk it reduced mean appetite by an average of 134% in comparison with consuming chocolate milk alone.
• Reduces the Absorption of Calories
Components in seaweed such as alginate, fucoidan, fucoxanthin and other antioxidants have an effect on digestive enzymes such as amylase, pepsin and lipase.
These components prevent the activity of enzymes such as alpha glucosidase which breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars. This has a positive effect on blood sugar control and simple sugar absorption from the intestine is limited.
The dietary fibre alginate also found in seaweed has been proven to restrict the activity of the enzyme lipase which is involved in fat digestion and absorption.
One study at the University of Newcastle found that the alginate fibre can prevent the body from absorbing fat by up to 75% due to its inhibitory effect on lipase.
• Seaweed is rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Seaweed contains a high concentration of vital minerals including iron, magnesium, calcium and iodine and vitamins A, B12 and C.
These provide an indirect effect on weight loss by assisting metabolic processes and other body functions.
Deficiency of minerals is a risk factor associated with obesity.
• Other ways seaweed helps to promote weight loss:
Seaweed is rich in omega-3 acids which reduces all over inflammation and cell fat inflammation which when accumulated leads to weight gain.
Is a good source of protein and helps to build immunity.
Contains prebiotics which aid digestion and improve overall gut health.
The compound fucoxanthin also helps to lower cholesterol levels and improve metabolic health.
There are several important compounds found in seaweed that help to assist weight loss and play a role in weight management. Seaweed is a rich source of iodine which helps to stabilise healthy functioning of the thyroid and to prevent hypothyroidism and as a result weight gain. The dietary fibre alginate also found in seaweed surprises appetite by swelling in the stomach and altering blood sugar levels while also inhibiting particular enzymes involved in the digestion and absorption of fat. The compound fucoxanthin helps white fat cells which typically accumulate fat behave the like brown fat cells which burn energy, therefore acting to eliminate fat.
According to the world health organization approximately 2 billion people worldwide are deficient in iodine.
Due to the absence of fats and being plentiful in dietary fibres which are indigestible seaweed is a low calorie food item.
Also note - the fiber in brown seaweed can also promote digestive health and antioxidants - known to be helpful in halting weight gain and to suppress hunger.
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