Grad school has been an adventure; not the wildernessing, huckleberrying kind. Rather, the Hunch Back Thinn kind. Last week I turned the page from vitamin pathways to summit pathways.
I’m turning to you, Aspen, for rejuvenation. And I’ve got a back pocket full of seed weed snacks to replete my mineral stores so I can explore Hanging Lake and Maroon Bell shores.
Huckleberry Thinn’s Seed Weed Snacks
2 full sheets of nori (seaweed for sushi), or a pack of the already-cut kind UNFLAVORED!
1/4 cup of each: sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (health food store)
preheat your oven to 250 degrees F > cut nori sheets into 9 pieces each > mix seeds together in a bowl > mix honey, sesame oil and liquid aminos together in another bowl > one sheet at a time, use a marinating brush to paint the honey sauce onto the seaweed > then dip the sticky side of the seaweed into the seeds and press gently until the surface of the seaweed is completely covered in seeds > line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the seed weed sheets seed-up > bake for ~15 minutes or until the edges of the seaweed begin to harden and curl.
In the same way that our soil supplies your vegetables, fruit, grains and meat with essential minerals, the ocean’s ecology is a marine market of minerals that work their way into your diet.
For thousands of years, Asian cultures have harvested red algae from the sea to form nori. This edible seaweed, commonly consumed as the green wrap on sushi, is a sea vegetable with impressive levels of iodine.
Iodine, that sounds familiar. Iodine as in iodized salt? Yes. But saltwater is not the iodine common denominator between iodized salt and seaweed. In fact, salt doesn’t naturally contain iodine. In response to a sweeping goiter epidemic in the 1920’s, iodine was added to salt to replenish iodine deficiency and its debilitating effects.
Despite the huge world health impact of the salt fortification movement, iodine deficiency remains a top of mind public health problem. Up there with zinc and iron, iodine is one of the most underconsumed minerals IN THE WORLD! Iodine deficiency is a major world health issue, and this problem is not isolated in developing countries. Nearly 30% of the world’s population is iodine deficient.* And iodine deficiency has been recognized as the world’s single cause of preventable brain damage and mental retardation.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults and children older than 12 consume 150 micrograms of iodine / day. Kids need 90-120 micrograms / day, and pregnant women need 250 micrograms. This isn’t a suggested recommendation; iodine is an essential mineral. Even though it isn’t as sexy to talk about as gluten, omega-3’s and antioxidants, iodine plays a MAJOR role in growth and metabolism, and its important to know why.
I have a thyroid. You have a thyroid. We all have a thyroid (mine’s in my neck, your’s is probably too). Iodine from your diet is pumped into your thyroid gland where it is incorporated into thyroid hormones T3 (trioodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). Iodine plays a structural role in thyroid hormones.
The active iodine-containing hormones are released into the blood where they travel to peripheral tissues and land on cells to impart their messenger effects. Thyroid hormones talk to your DNA and tell it to go or stop. In this way, they modulate protein synthesis rates. And proteins control all biological processes in your body. For example, T3 regulates the production of proteins required for the build up and break down of fats, carbohydrates and proteins; your metabolism. Thyroid hormones are the single most important determinant of basal metabolic rate regardless of your size, age or gender.
So without adequate iodine, the body can’t synthesize sufficient thyroid hormones, and basal metabolic rate (and appetite) slows. What’s more, insufficient iodine/thyroid hormones can lead to mental retardation (cretinism) because they are required for normal maturation of the nervous system in the fetus and infant. This is why iodine is especially important for pregnant women.
Thyroid hormones are also required for normal growth, alertness, and they support the sympathetic nervous system; your fight or flight response.
Waist-deep in waders in Maroon Bells Lake holding a fly rod when the sky unleashed into a lightening and hail storm… fight or flight, I was flying out of the water in the blink of an eye. Perhaps it was iodine-rich seed weed snacks keeping my sympathetic in check.
*Zimmerman Lancet 2008, 371, 1251