We all know vegetables are good for us, but what about sea vegetables like nori, wakame, kelp, and dulse? The next time you reach for a sushi roll, keep in mind that the dark green stuff is more than just a pretty wrapper for all that sticky rice and fish. It's also packed with essential vitamins and minerals that foods grown on land -- including organic vegetables and fruits -- can't provide.
At Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, co-directors Brian and Anna Maria Clement have implemented a wide array of sea vegetables as part of the institute's signature Life Transformation Program. This three-week-long instruction helps people enrolled in the program understand how foods can heal or aid the body in reversing the signs and symptoms of disease, including common and debilitating ailments like diabetes, cancer, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson's, according to a raw vegan diet.
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As part of that instruction, guests learn how to incorporate all the most nutritious foods from land, sea, and water, Hippocrates Health Institute greenhouse manager Brian Hetrich told Clean Plate Charlie during a recent interview. "That means sprouts and grasses from land, algae from our fresh waters, and sea vegetables like kelp, nori, and wakame from the oceans."
To understand why sea vegetables are an important part of the Hippocrates raw vegan diet, Hetrich explains that you must first understand why the nutrients they provide are hard to find elsewhere -- and it all starts with fertilizer. Today, most fertilizer contains a mix of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, and magnesium, which are all necessary to sustain plant life. Before commercial fertilizers, plants -- our food -- received those nutrients from fallen leaves, rotten logs, dead animals, and animal waste.
However, when it comes to growing large crops (or even planting your own garden), most rely on man-made fertilizers to get the job done. Since the 1920s, these synthetic fertilizers come from natural materials but are chemically processed. For example, nitrogen comes from the air, which is treated with natural gas at a very high temperature and pressure to produce ammonia, which is made into fertilizer. Phosphorus and potassium come from mined rocks that are treated with acids and other chemicals to form granules that will dissolve and reach plant roots quickly.
While almost all synthetic fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium -- the three main elements necessary to sustain plant life -- they do not contain the trace elements our plants (and us!) need in lower or trace amounts. However, according to Hetrich, our oceans are a rich source of living plants that offer many essential nutrients and minerals that are an essential component of all therapeutic diets.