Kelp is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. Well, technically, it's algae seaweed that comes from shallow ocean waters. Yet when people think of kelp, they likely don't think about it as a food that is good for their hormones. One of kelp's bountiful benefits is that it can help balance your hormones naturally, and it's a more commonly used supplement than you might think - by women and men.
Let's dive into one of the biggest reasons you should eat more kelp and how it helps balance your hormone levels.
Kelp helps regulate thyroid hormones
First and foremost, the nutrient in kelp that plays the most vital role in balancing hormones is iodine. Iodine is a trace mineral naturally present in seawater and one that affects women's health in particular. A woman's level of iodine impacts her thyroid, ovaries, brain, and breasts.
The thyroid alone plays various roles in one's health, depending on how well it functions, and iodine is essential to one's diet to maintain normal thyroid function. Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The main thyroid hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), needs iodine to release both T3 and T4 to support metabolic processes and prevent the development of an enlarged thyroid, also known as goiter.
To better understand just how important proper thyroid function is and how iodine affects that, these are some of the symptoms of iodine deficiency - many of the same as hypothyroidism:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Goiter (swelling in the neck)
- Dry skin
- Feeling cold
- Cognitive problems (slow mental function, trouble learning, and remembering)
- Menstrual problems
The numerous vitamins and minerals in kelp, such as iron and calcium, also improve thyroid function by supporting the body's ability to use its natural thyroid hormone production effectively.
Kelp detoxifies and balances estrogen
An iodine deficiency can also lead to estrogen dominance, increasing the risk of estrogen dominance-related conditions including uterine, endometrial, and ovarian cancers; the ovaries have the highest iodine concentrationafter the thyroid.
Estrogen dominance-related conditions also include hyperplasia, fibrosis, infertility, breast lumps, endometriosis, mood swings, and PMS. Iodine helps prevent these conditions by removing "dirty estrogens," harmful metabolites of estrogen, that cause them.
The overabundance of estrogen in your body causes certain types of cells to multiply at a much faster rate than they're supposed to, which is why it's closely linked with breast cancer. Taking high doses of kelp can help decrease estrogen dominance symptoms because it helps keep estrogen levels balanced.
One study by the University of California Berkely attests that kelp canreduce hormones related to breast cancer. The study suggests that women who take 700mg of kelp each day can improve their symptoms of endometriosis.
Kelp supports the mammary glands
Incorporating iodine in your diet as a pregnant or breastfeeding mother is vital for supporting healthy breast tissue and your child's development. The mammary glands rely on iodine during pregnancy and lactation, as they capture the iodine to provide for the growing baby. The iodine helps growing babies make their own hormones for the healthy development of their brain and nervous system.
The evidence is clear as to how kelp helps balance hormones in the body. The next question is what type of kelp you should eat and how should you consume it?There are three different types of seaweeds: brown, red, and green. Kelp is a type of brown seaweed, so any form of brown seaweed will have this effect on your hormones. A daily supplement like The Longevity Lab's Apple Cider Vinegar Capsules includes 200 mg of kelp per serving to help balance your hormones naturally and effectively.