Seaweed and Fertility

Seaweed is the commonly used name for a large range of marine (both fresh and salt water) plants and algae. Seaweed is full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Most notable is its high content of iodine, a nutrient seldom found in other foods. Seaweed not only provides the base of most marine food chains, but also provides a wide range of benefits to humans (see this article for a more comprehensive discussion of the benefits). Among these benefits are dietary and medicinal. Included in the many indications associated with seaweed are those implicated with fertility.

Fertility, like most health and well-being issues, is enriched through overall health. Conception is improved in a physically, mentally and emotionally healthy body. While Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) contributes infertility to kidney deficiency, holistic health (including a healthy renal system) is important. Regular consumption of seaweed promotes overall health, and in turn fertility, via a number of avenues.

Regular consumption of seaweed strengthens the kidneys, liver, bladder and adrenals. Proper functioning of these systems is important for a healthy body and healthy fertility.
Appropriate levels of iodine are important to a properly functioning thyroid gland and the regulation of associated hormones, including those important to fertility. The high fibre content of seaweed helps to control blood sugar levels and can rid the body of excess estrogen, which can inhibit fertility. The combination of high iodine and fibre contents has positive effects on issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (a common endocrine disorder associated with infertility), ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids.

Seaweed is healthy and tasty. It is readily accessible at most supermarkets and easy to use. The Japanese incorporate a variety of seaweeds into their regular diet via a multitude of dishes. One of my favourite seaweed dishes is seaweed salad (http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/seaweed-salad/).

 

Seaweed Salad:

Ingredients
· 30 grams (1 ounce) dry mixed seaweed
· 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
· 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
· 1 tablespoon soy sauce
· 1 tablespoon sugar (you can substitute a 1/2 tablespoon agave)
· 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
· 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
· 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
· 1 scallion, finely chopped

Directions
1. Put the dry seaweed in a large bowl and fill it with cold water. If you like your seaweed crunchy, soak it for 5 minutes, if you like it more tender, soak it for 10 minutes.
2. To make the dressing, combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt and ginger juice in a small bowl and whisk together.
3. Drain the seaweed and use your hands to squeeze out excess water. Wipe out any excess water in the bowl, and then return the seaweed along with the dressing and sesame seeds. Toss thoroughly to combine. Plate the salad and garnish with scallions.

 

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