Kelp Boosts Immunity
Though it is commonly called seaweed, the official name for this algae is kelp.
Kelp may be found in kelp forests, in shallow, clear parts of the ocean. The water needs
to be below 68 degrees F. Kelp multiples and spreads easily, growing 20 inches or more in a single day, and at
times reaching over 200 feet long!
Kelp consists of a body or thallus which is a flat or leaf-like structure called
the blade. Blades in turn come from stipes, long stem-like structures. The holdfast, a root structure, keeps the
kelp fastened to the floor of the ocean. American kelp has gas-filled bladders that form on the blades and float
the blades close to the surface of the water.
Kelp forests, which adhere to rocks from the ocean's edge to depths of 100 feet,
provide food, habitat and refuge for a wide variety of marine and coastal species. Fish use them as a refuge from
predators and as nurseries for their young. Sea otters and shore birds forage for prey or enjoy the calmer waters
within them. Crustaceans, sea urchins and other ocean life feed directly on the kelp. Once it has died, the long,
smooth, brown leaf-like blades that wash ashore or fall into submarine canyons provide important nutrients and
habitat for other plants and animals, including Pacific blue mussels, crabs and beach hoppers.
Conditions required for growth: Now Kelp forests grow along rocky coastlines in
depths of about 2 m to more than 30 m (6 to 90+ ft). Kelp favors nutrient-rich, cool waters that range in
temperature from 5o to 20o C (42o to 72o F). These brown algae communities live in clear water conditions through
which light penetrates easily. Kelp recruits most successfully in regions of upwelling (regions where the ocean
layers overturn, bringing cool, nutrient-rich bottom waters to the surface) and regions with continuously cold,
high-nutrient waters. Because the amount of dissolved inorganic nitrogen decreases significantly in marine waters
warmer than 20oC, kelp experiences reduced or negative growth rates in warm water. This phenomenon is particularly
evident in southern California where giant kelp forests deteriorate in the summer months.
Giant kelp can grow up to one foot a day and is the third-fastest-growing plant in
the world. In North America, it’s only found off the coast of California and Baja California. Giant kelp is found
elsewhere in the world, but the forests off California are the most dense and lush of anywhere.
Very little is known about kelp and the importance of the kelp canopy to the many
fishes and other critters that hide within it. As part of the project, The Nature Conservancy became the first
nonprofit to lease California kelp beds more than 1,700 acres of kelp for research.
The kelp forests in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are small and
localized compared to those in the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, and Olympic Coast sanctuaries. Conditions
influencing kelp forest development in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary may include: increased wave
motion, unsuitable substrate, urchin predation, and turbidity and salinity effects of the San Francisco Bay
Kelp is harvested commercially for food and for other substances, like alginates,
which are used as thickeners. It is big business worldwide and is cultivated in huge farms. Unfortunately the
naturally occurring forests of kelp are facing the same pressures that many of the marine ecosystems around the
planet are also pressurized by. Pollution and sewage from increased urbanization has taken its toll on many kelp
forests, as have pollution from heavy metals and oil. The removal of top predators, such as otters, that decrease
sea urchin populations has lead to kelp being overgrazed and eliminated from some areas.
Kelp may be purchased as a capsule, kelp vitamins, kelp capsules, as a powder, or
as the dried plant. It can be used as flavoring in drinks, as a kelp diet, or as a substitute for salt. Many people
add kelp nutrition to their stir-fries, beans, soups, stews, or cook it with grains.
Wikipedia says that 100 grams of kelp will normally contain 1.3 grams of fiber,
1.7 grams of protein, 9.6 grams of carbohydrates, .6 grams of fat, and .6 grams of sugars. They claim that kelp
contains from 3% to 45% of the minimum personal requirements of 13 other vitamins and minerals. In all kelp has
over 70 minerals, growth hormones, trace elements, enzymes, vitamins, and this includes potassium, magnesium, iron,
calcium, and especially iodine.
Kelp extract used in kelp tablets is not only plentiful but it is also healthy.
Kelp suppresses AIDS, helps to fight heart disease, and boosts the immune system against such diseases as the
herpes simplex virus. It increases body energy, helps to fight cancer, improves the function of the liver, and
reduces arthritic pain. Take kelp supplements daily for a healthier lifestyle.
Kelp is used to help control body weight because of its ability to stimulate
metabolism. The iodine in kelp is a great help to those with hypothyroid problems. It also aids in problems with
poor digestion, constipation, and bowel gas. Teenagers should advise caution in the taking of kelp supplements
because the kelp can cause acne outbreaks in youngsters.
Kelp is used in everything from soap to dog food. A compound of kelp is a
thickener used in making jelly, toothpaste, salad dressing, and ice cream. The ash is used in the production of
soap and glass. Kelp kills the herpes virus and reduces hair loss. It also maintains mucous membranes in the body
and lowers cholesterol levels.
Kelp is also used frequently in fertilizer and as such is known as vraic. Some
types of kelp are also considered a delicacy in the Far East.
You will help keep your body regulated by daily ingesting a small amount of kelp
extract in kelp nutrition powder, kelp tablets, or kelp capsules form. This will provide you with needed vitamins
and minerals and may ward off health problems you never knew you would have faced.
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