Flaxseeds - Literally, Food as Medicine

Winnipeg Nutrition - Winnipeg Food

Hello flaxseeds! Most people know that flaxseeds are healthy and fiber-rich, but did you know that they are also considered a phytoestrogen? Flaxseeds contain lignans - which play a role in estrogen metabolism.

Improving estrogen metabolism may be of benefit in women with personal and/or family history of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), fibrocystic or painful breasts, uterine fibroids, and other hormonally-influenced conditions. By moderating the levels of estrogen free-floating around in circulation, they can promote a healthy estrogen balance, as opposed to estrogen dominance or imbalance.

Estrogen dominance can be caused by excessive, inflammation-causing saturated fats, hormone-rich meats & dairy, high glycemic index foods, gluten grains (especially wheat, rye, barley and spelt) and low-fiber foods. Exogenous (external) sources of estrogen can also contribute to estrogen dominance: dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls - both environmental pollutants.

Many people buy flaxseeds already ground, but that’s the first mistake. They should be raw and freshly ground, immediately before consuming them. Whole flaxseeds may pass through the digestive tract, undigested… And pre-ground flaxseeds have been exposed to oxygen much longer and can cause the polyunsaturated fats (good fats = omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid) to break down.

Flaxseeds should always be consumed with a glass or two of water, as they can clog up the digestive tract with their gelatinous (jelly-ish) properties. They can also bind up any medications or supplements taken at the same time, so it’s advisable to avoid taking both at once.

Anyways, consult with a healthcare professional before starting anything new or combining with your existing medications/supplements. I’ve also just scratched the surface of what causes estrogen dominance - don’t go and try to Dr. Google yourself!

Reference(s): C. Hall, Douglas. (2001). Nutritional Influences on Estrogen Metabolism. Appl Nutr Sci Reports. 1.

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