It may or may not be apparent to most of my readers that it has been quite some time since I've blogged on a Food of the Day. The reason is that, well, there are only so many foods a Crohn can eat [read: admit to eating]. Since I'm diving most enthusiastically into this fiber fest, it is time to give some hard-won and well deserved attention to seaweed.
Seaweed, to me, has always seemed a benign and healthy food for two reasons: 1) it is an algae, and algae is generally purported to have excellent mineral benefits, and 2) because seaweed makes Sushi more chopstick-friendly -- nigiri is very complicated because it is a 2-3 bite endeavor, and sashimi is too expensive to eat as often as I eat sushi.
I was, therefore, thrilled to learn that types of seaweed have direct benefits in both in vitro and in vivo models of IBD. Fucoidan (brown seaweed extract), specifically the Cladosiphon okamuranus Tokida kind (collegially, Mozuka), has been shown to protect against the development of intestinal tumors in rats (Yamamoto and Maruyama 1985). Even more exciting was that Mozuka inhibited interleukin-6 (IL-6) activity and down-regulated NF-κB in a model of colitis (Matsumoto et al 2004). IL-6 and NF-κB are two of the primary triggers of intestinal inflammation.
Yet another study suggests that Mozuka inhibits the adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to an in vitro human gastric cell line (Shibata et al 1999). Reports on the effects of Mozuka against H. pylori are, in fact, numerous: Shibata et al 2003, 2000; Nagaoka et al 2000).
Mozuka (from http://www.e-expo.net/materials/016131/0004/index.html)
But as you might imagine, Mozuka, being brown seaweed, is not sushi seaweed Nori.
Nori (stolen from http://gluttonforlife.com/2010/11/09/the-nori-story/ -- read her awesome post!)
Nori saeaweed is rich in minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron (Shaw and Liu 2000) which are typically lacking in Crohns or persons with any digestive dysfunction. Shaw and Liu also suggest that Nori helps the intestine to absorb minerals from other sources such as the Crohn-coveted magnesium. It is also an excellent source of soluble fiber.
There are many other benefits of various seaweeds, but as you can see, this post is already quite orange. I will continue to ingest my moderate portions of sushi, roasted nori and Wakame (in soups = nom!) without fear.