Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flax Seeds Benefits

When you think of acne treatment you probably think about something you put ON your skin to zap away the pimples. I know I was looking for that magic topical potion as I battled pretty moderate acne well in to my late 20s. But the thing that cured my acne wasn't a soap, a lotion or a toner. It was something that treated my skin from within: flax seeds.

Flax seeds are a triple threat against acne. First of all they're high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats reduce inflammatory responses in the body, including the skin. Second they contain hormone-balancing lignans. Lignans have been shown to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase, an enzyme involved in the conversion of testosterone to DHT (its more active form). In other words, it helps to balance the production of androgens, which, in excess can cause acne. Third, essential fatty acids strengthen the skin's cell membranes, thus hydrating the innermost layer of skin. This makes skin less suseptible to hormonal fluctuations and more resilient to infection.

Why do we sell the FlaxPro Flax seeds? Because I've tried other brands without success. They didn't have the same benefits because they weren't as fresh and bioavailable. With air-tight packaging and a proprietary processing method that increases nutrient availability, these flaxpro seeds were superior. Plus they're easy to use. Because of their special processing, there's no need to grind! Why? Because the seeds are heated to a low temperature that's not high enough to affect the omega-3s, but just enough to reduce excess moisture in the seed. This makes them easeir for the body to break down and thus more bioavailable. (I know--sounds weird not having to grind flax seeds, but it's true!)

Flax Seeds for women's health
For years I struggled with estrogen dominance. Getting rid of parabens, phlalates, aluminum chlorohydrate and other xenoestrogens was a giant step in the right direction for me. [Note: Men--if you're squeamish about feminine issues, you might want to skip down a couple of paragraphs.] Several years ago now, before I started this company I was using conventional chemical-filled body and skin care products and eating not-so-great conventional foods. My periods were way off kilter. I'd go for six months without a sign of a period, and then I'd spot for five months straight. Once I figured out everything I was doing wrong, became outraged with the chemical-filled products on the market, changed my lifestyle, and started Bubble and Bee, I stopped the extreme periods and was able to have one once about every three months. Then I met flax seeds. Hello regular periods! But how? Here's the science behind it.

Flax seeds contain high amounts of anti-oxidant compounds called lignans. Lignans are a group of phytochemicals that have weakly estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties. One study done at the University of Rochester found that women who ate flax seeds during the study had a higher raio of LP progesterone to estradiol. What does this mean? It means that flax seeds balanced the ratio of progesterone to estrogen. For women with estrogen dominance syndrome, this can mean a lot, including the diminishing of fibroids, cysts, PMS, and the regulation of periods. In addition, the study found that eating flax seeds lengthened the second half of the cycle (the progesterone-dominant half), leading to more consistent ovulation. In the study, all of the women who ate flax seeds ovulated every month for the three month study. Conversely, the women in the study who didn't eat any flax seeds did experience some anovulatory cycles. What does this mean in plain English? That daily use of flax seeds can help promote hormone balance and fertility. In addition, one study found that eating flax seeds decreased hot flashes by 60%.
Flax seeds can also help with diminishing cramps. The body turns omega-3 fatty acids into series 1 and 3 anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (hormone-like substances made by the body from essential fatty acids). The prostiglandins are the body's natural defense against inflammation and pain. So flax seeds can actually help decrease cramps and may aid in curbing some of the symptoms of endometriosis, adenomyosis, and other inflammatory symptoms during a woman's cycle. Which brings us to...

Flax Seeds for fighting inflammation
These prostaglandins are also helpful in decreasing inflammation througout the body, and may help to control inflammatory diseases like asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis. [Personal note: I haven't had to use my asthma inhaler once since I started eating flax seeds].

Flax Seeds for bone health
In addition, ALA found in flaxseeds promotes bone health by helping to prevent excessive bone turnover-when consumption of foods rich in this omega-3 fat results in a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diet. (Griel AE, Kris-Etherton PM, et al. Nutrition Journal) Researchers think this is most likely because omega-6 fats are converted into pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, while omega-3 fats are metabolized into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. (Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances made in our bodies from fatty acids.) Studies also showed that eating about an ounce of ground flaxseed each day will affect the way estrogen is handled in postmenopausal women in such a way that offers protection against breast cancer but will not interfere with estrogen's role in normal bone maintenance.

Flax Seeds for hearth health and cancer fighting
Omega-3 fats are used to produce substances that reduce the formation of blood clots, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Omega-3 fats are also needed to produce flexible cell membranes. Cell membranes are the cell's gatekeepers, allowing in needed nutrients while promoting the elimination of wastes. While important for everyone, flexible cell membranes are critical for persons with diabetes since flexible cell membranes are much better able to respond to insulin and to absorb glucose than the stiff membranes that result when the diet is high in saturated and/or hydrogenated (trans-) fats. In the colon, omega-3 fats help protect colon cells from cancer-causing toxins and free radicals, leading to a reduced risk for colon cancer.

Flax Seeds for lowering cholesterol
In a study involving 40 patients with high cholesterol (greater than 240 mg/dL), daily consumption of 20 grams of ground flaxseed was compared to taking a statin drug. After 60 days, significant reductions were seen in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol-in both groups. Those receiving flaxseed did just as well as those given statin drugs!

For detailed information about the studies cited, visit these sources:
Sources:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81
http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/77/5/1215
http://www.americanwellnessnetwork.com/index.php/20070520601/Lignans-for-acne.html

FLAX SEEDS FAQS:

Where can I get FlaxPro Flax Seeds?
Made by NutraPro International, FlaxPro Flax Seeds aren't distributed in stores anywhere outside of Utah. The first and only way you can get these incredible seeds outside of Utah is through our website. We have chosen these flax seeds for their high level of freshness and nutrient availability. If you've ever tried other brands of flax seeds and found they tasted fishy, you weren't getting all the benefits of the seed. Rancid flax seeds do you no good. That's why we've chosen these special seeds that will reach you with optimal freshness.

Which ones are better? Golden or brown? I personally prefer the golden, but nutritionally they are identical. Taste-wise there's not much dirfference either.

How do you use the flax seeds? I recommend eating two tablespoons each day. You don't need to grind them like other flax seeds. They're very versatile--sprinkle them on soups or salads, add them to pastas, breads, or even on pizza. Put them in your morning smoothie or on your cereal. Or just eat them right from the canister--the possibilities are endless.

How much do you have to eat?
I recommend eating a minimum of two tablespoons a day.

Everyone's body and health is different, so I can't tell you that they're going to solve your particular problem. However, I can tell you that they've worked for me and countless others that have tried them.

This information has not been reviewed by the FDA. Neither the product nor this information is intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.

14 comments:

Vala said...

Good article, Steph! I am a flax seed fan, but didn't know about all of the benefits you listed here. Coolio.

Robin @ toxicbeautyblog.com said...

I always knew flax seed was great for you...but until now I didn't know all it could do. I will definitely reintroduce this into my daily diet.

Hannah said...

Do these benefits apply to consumption of flax seed oil as well?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Nope--you need the full seed, not just the oil, to get the lignans.

Laura Bradford said...

Actually, it is toxic to eat more than one tablespoon a day. Your body can only handle so much flax.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

What's your source, Laura? I've been eating at least 2 tbs a day for two years now and my body does great with them.

Anonymous said...

Flax has done wonders in getting my menstrual cycle back to normal (quick, pain-free and normal volume). Gone are my days of not living because I had a period, the pain and heating pads. It's truly heaven-sent!

Mckenzie Sanft said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Natalia777j said...

flax seeds can be toxic in more than I table spoon? that's new....never heard that before. I would imagine even water can be deadly in high doses, but 2 Tbsp is hardly an overdose. gotta make more research...I guess...hmmmm. Whats the signs of toxicity?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Natalia777j--Yeah, I don't know where that information came from or if it's based in fact--there was never a source that was cited for that claim. :)

Jodi Thom said...

Thank you for your research, Stephanie! Do you know how the consumption of flaxseed affects males? Does it serve to regulate hormones for them as well? My husband and I have been working to rid our lives of endocrine disruptors for almost 10 years. My 5 year old son is a picture of natural energy. I'm hoping to give him the best start possible nutritionally, and I don't want him to have any ill effects from what I feed him as he grows.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

For adult males there are a lot of benefits to flax seeds, as it blocks that active form of testosterone that's responsible for male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement. However, there have not been any studies that I can find concerning flax seeds and their effects on developing young boys. This is the only study I could find that's even close: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25441591 (A study on overweight adolescents.)

Jodi Thom said...

Thank you! The following article is just one example of the information we've been seeing on foods that encourage estrogen production. It's very confusing and certainly alarming when one considers how little accurate information there is to draw on to come to a reasonable conclusion.

http://www.alternet.org/food/4-surprising-foods-packed-estrogen-chemical-linked-obesity-and-sexual-dysfunction

Stephanie Greenwood said...

It is indeed confusing and there is much science yet to be done. However, the overwhelming evidence suggests that, at least in adults, flax seeds do nothing but benefit the body. Articles such as the one you linked to further confuse the issue of xenoestrogens vs phytoestrogens which act completely differently in the body. (And different phytoestrogens act differently.) To suggest that women with hormone imbalances should avoid things like sunflower and sesame seeds is preposterous and is not based on science. In fact, the foods they suggest, like flax seeds, sesame, legumes, etc can be highly *beneficial* for women (and men) with hormone imbalances. I could write an entire article (or series thereof) debunking articles such as these. And I probably will.