The foods we are eating, even organic produce, are lacking nutrients. Mass production farming has led to poor farming practices, which has resulted in soil that is nutrient deficient. If our soil lacks nutrients, our produce does too. As humans who eat plants and rely on them to provide proper nourishment for our cells to create glucose, a process vital to producing energy, which we need to do to function, this is terrible news.*
The topic of vanishing nutrients has become omnipresent in my life since I participated in the Beyond Organic class at Tres Estrellas.* Shortly after I learned that our foods were widely lacking nutrients, I met Dan Fryda, the president of Spa Technologies International, at an iSpa conference and was delighted to learn that he not only shared my concerns; he also had a solution.
From his eye-opening presentation, I learned that one of the most common minerals that people are missing from their diets is iodine, which is obtained predominately through food sources. Surprise, surprise, given some current popular farming techniques, accessing iodine has become a severe obstacle for most people. Iodine is a vital micronutrient required at all stages of life. It is specifically crucial for women’s health, as it is responsible for the thyroid, which regulates hormones, and is required for the healthy function of reproductive organs. It is no stranger to public scrutiny, as it has been publicized in the news as dangerous (thanks, Chernobyl). However, it is radioactive iodine that causes allergic reactions, not iodine itself. Due to public fear, and inaccessibility, iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is the most common endocrinopathy in the world; 95% of Americans have an iodine deficiency.
One remedy for this is to add seaweed to our diets; it is one of the richest sources of iodine on the planet. The sea is the source of life itself. We must have come from the sea because seawater and human blood plasma are chemically identical in mineral composition. Since plants that grow in the sea absorb and concentrate the minerals in seawater, marine algae can provide us optimal nutrition without using pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Seaweed snacks are not just delicious; they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3s, which regulate the nervous system and calm us when we are stressed. Try chewing on a piece of nori or kombu the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed. Seaweed is a perfect source of umami and an excellent addition to soup, salad, and condiment recipes, such as one of our favorites: Kuchumaa Beans!
Another excellent way to incorporate seaweed in the body is topically with body wraps and products, such as Rancho La Puerta’s Vitamin C Antioxidant Face Serum. Iodine is a trace element, meaning that it is infinitesimally small, allowing it to pass through the skin and into the bloodstream. Most seaweeds are about 50% fucose (sugar), which is responsible for signaling the need for cell repair. This is important for seaweed because it is generally surrounded by environmental stressors like heavy currents and sharp rocks. It also explains why kelp, a large seaweed, can grow up to a foot in one day. Fucose acts similarly on human skin as it does in algae; it stimulates cell renewal and promotes the firming of connective tissues, like collagen and elastin. Proper levels of iodine (~150mcg/ day) are also crucial for the moisture-locking abilities of skin. Due to the presence of fucose and iodine, combined with heat (signaling the body to detoxify naturally via sweating), seaweed wraps can mineralize cells, help detoxify the body, stimulate circulation, and improve nutrition to tissues, skin, and cellular metabolism. Bye-bye cellulite! Sweat loosens dead skin cells and opens pores so that the mask can absorb toxins from the body and replace them with vitamins and minerals from the sea.
The Ranch offers a Seaweed Wrap treatment. I had the privilege of trying it recently. To begin this treatment, I sat on a table, draped in a towel, while my masseuse rubbed what I can best describe as warm slime all over my body. It reminded me of aloe vera, but warm. Once I was completely covered in the seaweed product, Tina cocooned me up in several layers of hot towels (about 110°F). The steam rose and filled the room as she smoothed out the creases and checked for hot spots. She added cool towels under my neck and on my forehead and had me take deep breaths of rosemary oil to stimulate my lymphatic system and promote the detox process. Then, we waited. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated more in 30 minutes in my whole life. Even when I sauna for that long I sometimes pop out halfway through. The best thing, for me, was when she would replace the towels every few minutes and dab the sweat from my neck and lip. I don’t think I would have made it through without that. The physical challenge ignited a mental one as well. I made the mistake of trying this wrap on a hot day and nearly had to pull my arms out of the covers before my time was up. Once I found my edge, I decided to push myself to hold out just a little longer, breathing deeper than ever, and used that focus to make it to the end of the session. The cup of ice water at the end was a real treat. I will admit that I went straight upstairs to the cold plunge after. I did stop to notice the pleasant tingling sensation and softness of my skin on the way there. I slept incredibly that night and felt a surge of energy when I woke up in the morning. I could tell that my body appreciated the extra nutrients as it turned them into sugar and turned that into energy. I would recommend this wrap based on the benefits I felt, but maybe wait for a cooler day.
It’s time to seize the sea and introduce our inner oceans to the large external one that covers most of the planet. Seaweed harvesting causes minimal disturbance to marine ecosystems and uses no harmful chemicals. Given that the world biomass of seaweed is trillions of tons, the possibilities are endless.
* To learn more about why this is happening and what you can do to help, sign up for Rancho La Puerta’s new half-day farming program during your next stay.
Ahad, Farhana, and Shaiq A Ganie. “Iodine, Iodine Metabolism and Iodine Deficiency Disorders Revisited.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Medknow Publications, Jan. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3063534/.
A huge Thank you to Dan Fryda, President of Spa Technologies International, who I had the pleasure of meeting at an iSpa event, for inspiring this article and for sharing his research and publications with me. The following are papers written by Dan in the past five years, as well as his personal slideshow from the presentation he gave at the iSpa event. To learn more, visit his company’s website, https://spatechnologies.com/. He is also working on a book.
Seaweed and Iodine: the Vital Element that is Misunderstood
Seaweed Harvest & Eco-Sustainability
Sugars in Seaweed Reduce Wrinkles
When Veggies are Junk Food
Thank you, Luis Arturo, spa director at Rancho La Puerta, for allowing me to schedule this treatment, and to Tina at the Villas Health Center for performing it.