Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes pain and immobility, ranging from mild to severe.
In Ireland, around 915,000 people, including 1 in every 1,200 children, are living with arthritis, making it the single biggest cause of disability.
Although there is currently no cure for arthritis, some people do find that their symptoms improve as a result of changing what they eat.
How can seaweed help?
Seaweeds are packed full of important nutrients that can improve the symptoms of arthritis. These nutrients work to strengthen bones, repair connective tissue damage and reduce inflammation of the joints.
Calcium is important for keeping your bones healthy. Calcium deficiency increases your risk of osteoporosis, which causes the insides of bones to be weak, and therefore at risk of breaking. This condition is particularly common in women after menopause. You may also be at risk of developing osteoporosis if you're taking steroids for your arthritis on a long-term basis. Brown seaweeds, particularly Alaria and Kelp contain naturally occurring sources of calcium.
We all know that vitamin C is essential for a healthy immune system, but did you know it could help your arthritis? Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant, which helps to reduce inflammation in connective tissue and may reduce muscle and joint pain and stiffness.
This mineral improves production of myelin, which surrounds nerve endings to prevent toxic damage. Copper may also improve the strength of connective tissue by enhancing production of collagen for connective tissue repair. Copper also works in conjunction with vitamin C to produce elastin, a protein that improves the flexibility of connective tissue.
Along with reducing oxidative stress, manganese also relieves symptoms of arthritis by assisting in the formation of connective tissue.
New research has found alginates extracted from brown seaweeds such as Kelp and Alaria, could be modified with sulphates to be a potential remedy for the chronic joint pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. This exciting research suggests that alginates can both relieve the symptoms and significantly reduce the underlying causes of joint pain.
While arthritis has traditionally been considered an incurable disease, this study suggests that seaweed has the potential to halt degeneration in the joints and slow the progression of the disease.