3

votes

Digesting seaweed, does ancestry really matter?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 13, 2011 at 9:52 PM

I am a seaweed fiend, descended in large part from coastal Europeans, and I'm pretty sure seaweed would have made up at least some part of the diet historically. In "Primal Minds, Primal Bodies" there was a blurb about people of Japanese descent being uniquely able to digest seaweed. My first thought was, "Well that's just freakin' racist!" But then I calmed down a bit, and thought about it more, maybe it is true, and somehow coastal people from the rest of the world who incorporate seaweed into their diets perhaps haven't been eating it long enough to truly adapt. Who knows? Do you?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:24 AM

We do get a biggest dose of bacteria that colonizes our gut during birth, but it was discovered recently that the "sterile baby" thing isn't true, there is some transfer of bacteria from mother to child during gestation.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on November 09, 2012
at 02:35 AM

Jay- Changes how?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on November 11, 2011
at 10:22 AM

I'm pretty sure food leaving Japan is being screened heavily for radioactivity. I've become less paranoid thinking more about it considering the iodine in the seaweed makes our thyroids less vulnerable to radioactivity, wouldn't it make the plant itself less vulnerable too. I think overall I'd be more concerned about general pollution and heavy metals.

673f7ad6052448d51496f177395416b7

(344)

on November 10, 2011
at 11:02 PM

thanks for the info

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on November 10, 2011
at 09:17 PM

I have been buying from this company in Maine lately http://theseaweedman.com/

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 14, 2011
at 03:06 AM

Ooh, interesting. So by eating seaweed, I'm adapting my body to eat seaweed? Sweet!

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on September 14, 2011
at 02:44 AM

Eating seaweed changes your intestinal flora due to its unique sulfated polysaccharides. The more seaweed one eats, the more the intestinal flora changes.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 13, 2011
at 10:53 PM

I have ODed on it a few times, and ended up with a few extra trips to the bathroom, but didn't notice any other distress. Maybe I can't digest it as a primary carb source, but I'm hoping the iodine is still getting into my system.

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5 Answers

best answer

7
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 13, 2011
at 10:11 PM

Yeah, they found that Japanpese gut bacteria had stolen a gene from some seaweed bacteria to be able to digest some special carbohydrates in seaweed. I freaking love seaweed and I wish I had that gene. The main consequence for not having it would probably be that some of the carbs in the seaweed might not be completely digested, which might lead to stomach upset. Indeed, I find an upper limit to what I can eat personally. Once I ate a whole package of laver and I was kind of gassy for a day.

It is possible some westerners have similar gut bacteria genes. The Welsh used to eat a fair amount of seaweed, for example. They haven't done very many studies looking for horizontal transfer of gut bacteria.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 13, 2011
at 10:53 PM

I have ODed on it a few times, and ended up with a few extra trips to the bathroom, but didn't notice any other distress. Maybe I can't digest it as a primary carb source, but I'm hoping the iodine is still getting into my system.

2
Medium avatar

on September 13, 2011
at 10:32 PM

Well the most important component in seaweed that you may not be sourcing from other food is iodine, but I haven't heard an argument that a particular people are better at absorbing iodine from seaweed than others. If anything, the differences would be along the lines of better absorption with greater deficiency.

1
1783f3de89bb66d48f72d649dd4174ff

(10)

on November 09, 2012
at 02:23 AM

How can a race have special bacteria in their stomachs? I was under the impression out stomaches are bacteria free till we are exposed firstly to bacteria via exiting the vagina.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on November 10, 2012
at 02:24 AM

We do get a biggest dose of bacteria that colonizes our gut during birth, but it was discovered recently that the "sterile baby" thing isn't true, there is some transfer of bacteria from mother to child during gestation.

1
Medium avatar

(12379)

on September 14, 2011
at 12:20 AM

Many Coastal First Nations have been harvesting and drying seafood for tens of generations on the west coast of Canada and the US, so it would stand to reason that these people would also digest the seaweed better.

So your gut flora is specifically adapted to digest it more efficiently...I say eat it! It's delicious and good for you!

0
673f7ad6052448d51496f177395416b7

on November 10, 2011
at 08:57 PM

any concern re the effect of radioactive fallout on the seaweed sources? I've been eating kelp and nori on a daily basis for the past couple of months and someone recently alerted me to the dangers of radioactivity.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on November 10, 2011
at 09:17 PM

I have been buying from this company in Maine lately http://theseaweedman.com/

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on November 11, 2011
at 10:22 AM

I'm pretty sure food leaving Japan is being screened heavily for radioactivity. I've become less paranoid thinking more about it considering the iodine in the seaweed makes our thyroids less vulnerable to radioactivity, wouldn't it make the plant itself less vulnerable too. I think overall I'd be more concerned about general pollution and heavy metals.

673f7ad6052448d51496f177395416b7

(344)

on November 10, 2011
at 11:02 PM

thanks for the info

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