Drinking Sea Moss – Ireland’s secret superfood
By Helen Wright
One of the best things about travel is bringing home influences from around the world and incorporating them into everyday life. I am fascinated by natural remedies and medicines used in different countries. One that is having a bit of a moment ahead of 2021 is Irish Sea Moss. Kim Kardashian even posted about drinking sea moss smoothies on Instagram, so even though this health booster may have been quietly tried and tested over thousands of years, it’s definitely not a secret anymore!
What is sea moss?
So what is Sea Moss? The moss is a type of red algae but, despite the name, it isn’t exclusive to the beautiful shores of Ireland. The so-called Irish Sea Moss grows along the Atlantic coast of North America, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands – in particular, Jamaica.
The Irish were the first to harvest the algae into something useful, using it for medicine since the 1800s and the Irish potato famine. 5000-miles away in Jamaica, Islanders also traditionally use sea moss to treat illness (and folklore also insists it can work as a natural Viagra too…) As well as the healing and, er, lifting, potential of the moss, drinking Irish Sea Moss can aid other areas of your health and enhance your skin. It’s crazy to think that you could have stepped over one of nature’s best ‘multi-vitamins’ last time you were at the beach without even realising, isn’t it?
Drinking sea moss for better health
Natural sea moss has no taste, so it can be added to a range of different food and drinks, including smoothies (like Kim K), juices, cakes, stews, soups, sauce, desserts and ice cream. This is because when boiled with water, it forms into a gel consistency. Many vegans actually use sea moss in a plant-based diet as a substitute for gelatin or other thickening agents. If you don’t want (or don’t have time) to boil the sea moss yourself, you can also buy sea moss in a prepared powder.
The traditional Jamaican Irish moss drink is one of the most famous ways to drink sea moss. Once the sea moss has moulded into the gel, the Jamaicans add a sweetener (usually condensed milk, honey or full fat milk) and sprinkle in warm spices and vanilla. For the real Caribbean deal, you can make it ‘hard’ by adding a shot of rum or Guinness. Around Jamaicans, you might also hear this called the ‘love drink’ or ‘love potion’ because of its rumoured success in helping with libido.
Smoothies, however, are probably the most realistic and practical way of drinking sea moss. This fresh berry and sea moss smoothie is our go-to recipe. And, if you prefer your health kicks warm, you can also drink sea moss in tea.
This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you click on one of the products we mention at no extra cost to yourself.
Health Benefits of Sea Moss: What is sea moss good for?
In short, everything! In fact, sea moss contains more than 90% of the nutrients your body needs and so can help with a multitude of health and beauty concerns. The only downside to the health benefits of sea moss is that, in general, algae are difficult to study. The nutritional properties (vitamins and minerals contained in the sea moss) vary by location and season, and scientists claim it is hard to determine how well the body absorbs the nutrients in algae because of other, competing, factors. However, we know that sea moss is good for so many things, which I have broken down below:
Mucilogenous foods are (roughly translated) ‘slimy’ foods. Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by plants to store water and food, seed germination, and thicken membranes. The most famous example of a mucilogenous food is Cacti (and other succulents), but flax seeds, okra, aloe and Irish sea moss are all rich sources of mucilage.
Studies have found that the texture of Irish sea moss makes it a great healing and soothing agent for mucus membranes in the body because it calms irritation. Further studies have also found that sea moss can have a prebiotic effect during digestion. This means that it can reduce bad bacteria in the gut, and improve overall gut health and immunity. This sticky substance also dissolves in water, so sea moss can also work like a soluble fibre that keeps you full for longer and helps stool move through the GI tract.
Sea moss is full of iron, which most people think you can only get from meat and seafood. Sea moss contains a decent amount of the B-vitamin riboflavin (B2) and folate (B9). Together, this helps to create the red blood cells that will boost your iron levels and, as a result, energy. Fun fact – Irish sea moss contains nine times more iron than chicken!
If you suffer with fatigue or feel low on energy, it might be because your iron levels are low. Whipping up a quick smoothie and drinking sea moss will help give you a cheeky midday kick.
During cold and flu season, sea moss soups could become your go-to power lunch. Used for centuries to ward off illness, sea moss is good for providing potassium iodide, which is great for dissolving that horrible phlegm and snot that clogs up your nose and throat. Algae is also rich in amino acids, vitamin C, antioxidants, and antiviral and antimicrobial agents, which can all help you battle or prevent infections*.
(*but not Covid-19, sadly)
You can make (or buy) a sea moss face mask and a range of other beauty products that use Irish sea moss in their formula. Being rich in sulphur, it has antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial functions, so is believed to help with balancing the skin microbiome.
Many people say they have used Irish sea moss to treat eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and minor burns. Products that are naturally high in sulphur can decrease excessive production of skin sebum (oil) and in some cases this can reduce acne bacteria and help the condition. Irish sea moss benefits from many nutrients that are often missing from the average diet, such as vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, which both aid healthy skin and inflammation control.
Plus, citrulline–arginine, a compound found in sea moss, has also been shown to improve cell growth and metabolism – hence, providing anti-ageing treatment for your skin. This compound releases amino acids that encourage protein and collagen regeneration, meaning younger-looking skin as well as healthy hair and nails. Magic!
Mental health and mood
There’s more! Eating or drinking Irish sea moss can also improve your mood – and we could all benefit from that right now. Am I right? Sea moss contains magnesium and potassium, which are known mood boosters. Plus, both minerals have been linked to increased brain function.
Sea Moss and Fertility
Fertility issues can originate from so many different areas and it’s important to remember there is no miracle cure for unexplained infertility or a magic ingredient to make you get pregnant. However, if you are planning on extending the family, it wont hurt giving yourself a little head start when it comes to nutrition. Sea moss and fertility could be a dynamic duo. As well as all the other positives of eating and drinking sea moss, the natural algae plant is also packed with key minerals that can support fertility. These are Iodine, Iron and Folate.
Iodine is a biggie – an American study found that women who are deficient in iodine are 46% less likely to get pregnant than those with recommended iodine levels. Iodine is a chemical element found in salt water, rocks and some types of soil. The human body needs it to control metabolism and make thyroid hormones, which are vital when you are trying to conceive. Good food sources include sea fish and shellfish but many people are surprised to find they are deficient, so even if you’re not planning a baby (or you’re a man), sea moss is still a top ingredient to add to your shopping list.
Also, once a woman conceives, maintaining good levels of iodine can contribute to your baby’s brain function. Definitely an excuse for a babymoon at the beach!
Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida. If you did not take folic acid before you conceived, medical professionals recommend starting as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Sea moss and fertility can be linked. You can take pre-natal or pregnancy supplements, but should also eat foods that contain folate (which is the natural form of folic acid), such as green leafy vegetables and – yep, you guessed it – sea moss!
Iron, we already know is vital for good health and can be boosted by drinking sea moss. Iron boosts the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body. Studies have shown that women who are anaemic or deficient in iron may struggle to get pregnant. Sea moss equates to almost 70 percent of your daily iron intake, so if you’re not one for a big juicy steak, it could be just the thing you need.
Alternatives to eating or drinking sea moss
If you don’t fancy cooking with Irish sea moss but are curious about whether you could benefit from the nutrients, here are three ways to try the health benefits of sea moss:
Without too much effort, add Irish Sea Moss into your diet with a daily supplement. This one from Dr Sebi comes highly recommended.
My Only Water package an Organic Sea Moss Gel from St Lucia made with alkaline spring water and nothing else.
SEA MOSS CHEWY GUMMIES
For something a bit more fun, try Dr Sebi Organic VEGAN Alkaline Irish sea moss gummy bears. Each portion contains 102 nutrients.
IRISH SEA MOSS GEL IN BEAUTY PRODUCTS
UK-based Lush, who are famous for their chemical-free, sustainable beauty products have a Shampoo, a face mask and a facial cleanser.
More from passportstamps.uk
The best family resort in Jamaica
How living in a campervan with my family prepared us for Covid lockdown
The best beaches in Kent
Travelling with a baby – everything you need to know
Where to travel to after Coronavirus
Where to find snow in California
Driving the desert – 2000 miles in Arizona
The best food in America
Terrorism and the future of travel
Travel from home – how musicals can take you around the world