You may not know this, but Japan, the island of Okinawa in particular, has an unusually high concentration of centenarians (people aged 100 or over). Furthermore, the Japanese enjoy far lower incidence of chronic age-related diseases than Westerners. While there are likely several factors at play here, including their lower-calorie diets rich in fruits, vegetables and fish, the most significant contributor to Japanese health and longevity might be from a lesser known source: seaweed.
When we talk about the seaweed in the Japanese diet we’re not strictly referring to a specific sea plant, but rather an amalgam of algae, or single and multi-cellular marine organisms that group into clumps. These particular species have high concentrations of long-chain molecules collectively known as fucoidans.Over the past decade, scientists have been studying these molecules, trying to unlock the secrets behind their powerful healing and anti-aging properties. Probably the strongest evidence of fucoidans benefits comes from studies of the species Undaria pinnatifida. Studies showed that fucoidan-rich Undaria, when ingested, binds to toxins such as dioxin within the bodies of mammals and helps excrete it. This detoxifying effect was so impressive that some clinicians believe fucoidans could be a promising antidote for people exposed to dioxin. Studies have shown fucoidans also promote health in other ways:
- Enhancing immune function, combating infectious diseases and cell mutation
- Stopping viral infections by bind to host cells and blocking viral replication
- Combating metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease by regulating glucose and insulin level