The Benefits of Flax Seed

Flax seed is considered the new wonder food. Claims are made that flax seed may help fight everything from heart disease and diabetes to breast cancer.

Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries: flax-seed.

These days, flax seed is found in all kinds of foods, from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed gone up, agricultural use has also increased — to feed all those chickens laying eggs that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

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Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its healthy reputation primarily to three ingredients:

o  Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.

o  Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods.

o  Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.

For those with Insulin Resistance, plant-based EFAs become inflammatory.

Omega-6 fatty acids help maintain your brain function and regulate growth. Eating a diet that has a combination of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will lower your risk of developing heart disease. Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation are very popular. They are given carte blanche status as an anti-inflammatory. But with Insulin Resistance, plant-based EFAs become inflammatory.

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INFLAMMATION:  We all need it from time to time. As the response of living tissue to damage, it is a wonderful defense mechanism.  Physical trauma, an infectious agent, or an allergen invades a tissue. This is caused by an increase of circulation to the affected area, stimulated by body chemicals called mediators. When released, these chemicals cause small blood vessels adjacent to the area of the tissue damage to dilate. In fact, inflammation fuels most common diseases as well as autoimmune diseases.

Inflammation of any type generates free radical production.  These unstable molecules wreak havoc, causing more tissue damage.

Prostaglandins (PGs) are one group of hormone-like chemicals that regulate inflammation in tissues.  Specifically, PGE-2 tends to increase inflammatory processes, while PGE-1 and PGE-3 generally curb it.

Inflammation – activates and increases the expression of several proteins that suppress insulin-signaling pathways, making the human body less responsive to insulin and increasing the risk for insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance creates a condition in which the body cannot properly metabolize the plant-based EFAs in flax seed, borage, evening primrose, black current seed, chia, hemp, camelina and perilla.[i],[ii] The fact is these normally beneficial EFAs are converted into pro-inflammatory compounds. While they may generically be good for you, plant-based EFAs may not be what you need.

The ligans in Flax Seed oil are useful in helping insulin bind to receptor sites. Insulin Resistance does not respond well to Flax Seed oil because inflammation will cause a shift into inflammatory pathways, thus increasing inflammation in the body. If a person responds well to aspirin, it is likely that this is occurring. Use high amounts of Omega CO-3 fish oils, Green Tea, and Garlic to quench inflammatory arachidonic pathways with Insulin Resistance.

How Do You Know If You are Suffering from Insulin Resistance? Read More …

Too much insulin is one such factor.  Why?  A special enzyme, delta-5 desaturase, is necessary for the DGLA to stimulate arachidonic acid synthesis.  The delta5-desaturase desaturates these EFAs into arachidonic acid. Too much insulin increases this enzyme and therefore arachidonic acid production. The more arachidonic acid, the more PGE-2.

Dietary arachidonic acid and inflammation

Arachidonic acid is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that is involved in inflammation. Like other omega-6 fatty acids, arachidonic acid is essential to your health. Arachidonic acid in particular helps regulate neuronal activity.

Arachidonic Acid and Eicosanoids

Eicosanoids, derived from arachidonic acid, are formed when your cells are damaged or are under threat of damage. This stimulus activates enzymes that transform the arachidonic acid into eicosanoids such as prostaglandin, thromboxane and leukotrienes. Eicosanoids cause inflammation. Therefore, the more arachidonic acid that is present the greater capacity your body has to become inflamed. When the inflammatory cascade is active, cells begin to convert their arachidonic acid into prostaglandins. Aspirin puts a stop to this.[iii] If you feel better with aspirin, the use of

This is the reason for eating moderate amounts of meat which a source of arachidonic acid. Under normal metabolic conditions, the increased consumption of arachidonic acid is unlikely to increase inflammation. Arachidonic acid is metabolized to both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules.[iv] Studies have shown healthy individuals for up to 50 days have shown no increases in inflammation or related metabolic activities.[v],[vi],[vii]

Arachidonic acid does still play a central role in inflammation related to injury and many diseased states. How it is metabolized in the body dictates its inflammatory or anti-inflammatory activity. Individuals suffering from joint pains or active inflammatory disease may find that increased arachidonic acid consumption or formation exacerbates symptoms, it is presumed because it is being more readily converted to inflammatory compounds. Likewise, high arachidonic acid consumption is not advised for individuals with a history of inflammatory disease, or that are in compromised health. The use of plant-based EFAs does not appear to have pro-inflammatory effects in healthy individuals. If the only source of EFAs is plant-based, it may counter the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.[viii]

Many patients come into my office saying they have Fibromyalgia, More often than not first and foremost on their supplement list is Flax seed, They feel remarkably better by eliminating flax seed and replacing it with a fish oil based EFAs. This allows us to sort out the other vicious cycles contributing to their health concerns.

Concerned about your Health?

Fill out the Thyroid Health Assessment Form to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.

Call today! 530-615-4083

[i] Storlien LH, Kriketos AD, Calvert GD, Baur LA, Jenkins AB.Fatty acids, triglycerides and syndromes of insulin resistance. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1997 Oct;57(4-5):379-85.

[ii] Brenner RR. Nutritional and hormonal factors influencing desaturation of essential fatty acids.

Prog Lipid Res. 1982;20:41-48.

[iii] Basselin M, Ramadan E, Chen M, Rapoport SI. Anti-inflammatory effects of chronic aspirin on brain arachidonic acid metabolites. Neurochem Res. 2011 Jan;36(1):139-45. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

[iv] Harris, WS; Mozaffarian, D; Rimm, E; Kris-Etherton, P; Rudel, LL; Appel, LJ; Engler, MM; Engler, MB et al. (2009). “Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease: a science advisory from the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention”. Circulation 119 (6): 902–7.

[v] Nelson, GJ; Schmidt, PC; Bartolini, G; Kelley, DS; Kyle, D (1997). The effect of dietary arachidonic acid on platelet function, platelet fatty acid composition, and blood coagulation in humans. Lipids 32 (4): 421–5. doi:10.1007/s11745-997-0055-7. PMID 9113631.

[vi] Wilborn, C, M Roberts, C Kerksick, M Iosia, L Taylor, B Campbell, T Harvey, R Wilson, M. Greenwood, D Willoughby and R Kreider. Changes in whole blood and clinical safety markers over 50 days of concomitant arachidonic acid supplementation and resistance training. Proceedings of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) Conference June 15–17, 2006.

[vii] Pantaleo, P; Marra, F; Vizzutti, F; Spadoni, S; Ciabattoni, G; Galli, C; La Villa, G; Gentilini, P et al. “Effects of dietary supplementation with arachidonic acid on platelet and renal function in patients with cirrhosis”. Clinical science (2004). 106 (1): 27–34.

[viii] Li, B; Birdwell, C; Whelan, J (1994). “Antithetic relationship of dietary arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid on eicosanoid production in vivo”. Journal of lipid research 35 (10): 1869–77.

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