Author: Kelley Herring
Eating in a way that models the diet of our ancient ancestors is much more than a culinary fad. It’s a necessity for health and longevity.
As I’m sure you know, human genetics have changed very little since the days of our Paleolithic ancestors 10,000 years ago. And when we consume foods that are incompatible with our ancient genetics – like grains and excess sugar – our health suffers.
Today, I’d like to share with you an ancient “superseed” that has been consumed by humans for millennia – a food that provides health benefits that go far beyond basic nutrition.
I’m talking about flaxseed.
Grind your own flax seed to ensure it’s fresh. Flax seed contains healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids. USWM 100% grass-fed beef is also high in Omega-3’s.
Anthropologists have discovered the remnants of flaxseed in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland. There is also proof that it was cultivated and consumed in Babylon around 3,000 BC.
The Latin name for flax – Linum usitatissimum – can be translated as “very useful”, a hint that even our ancestors understood the health-promoting properties of flax.
In the modern era, Gandhi is credited as stating that, “Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health”
And over the last 20 years, modern science has confirmed the ancient wisdom about this little seed, citing dozens of ways that flax can offer big health benefits. And one of the most powerful ways it can boost your health is by acting as a hormonal adaptogen.
Golden Flaxseed: The Hormonal Adaptogen in Your Paleo Diet
As the name suggests, an adaptogen is a compound that helps the body adapt to stress and exerts a normalizing effect on biochemical processes.
In the case of flaxseed, the adaptogenic effects are hormonal. Specifically, science has shown that flax can either boost or block the hormone estrogen – depending on what the body needs.
And this benefit can be quite important. Estrogen dominance has become increasingly common among both men and women today, as a result of the widespread exposure to man-made estrogens (also known as xenoestrogens), found in plastics, household chemicals, cosmetics, pesticides, artificial ingredients and more.
Unfortunately, estrogen dominance can contribute to a laundry list of symptoms and health problems including:
- Menopausal symptoms
- Hair loss
- Central obesity
- Cellular mutations
- Gynecomastia (growth of breast tissue in men)
The unique ability of flax to help balance excess estrogen comes from lignans. When these phytonutrients are metabolized by bacteria in your gut, they are converted to a compound, called enterolactone. Enterolactone then binds to estrogen receptors, helping to block estrogen and xenoestrogens alike.
As an adaptogen, however, flax can also act as a weak estrogen promoter when the body needs it (as is the case with menopause).
In fact, one study conducted at the Mayo Clinic found that two tablespoons of ground flaxseed twice per day reduced the number of hot flashes in menopausal women by half – while a measure of their intensity was reduced by 57%. And these are not the only hormonal benefits of this ancient seed…
Balance Blood Sugar & Boost Insulin Sensitivity with Flax
Thanks to its high fiber content, consumption of flax can help to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. But recent research shows the blood-sugar benefits of flax, may also be partly attributable to those beneficial lignans.
Let’s take a look at the research:
- A four-week study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that subjects who consumed 50g of flaxseed at mealtime reduced post-meal blood sugar levels by 27 percent.
- A study published in the journal Nutrition found that 40g of ground flaxseed daily promoted insulin sensitivity in obese diabetic patients.
- A randomized trial published in PlosOne found that consuming a flax-derived dose of 360mg of lignans for 12 weeks significantly reduced hemoglobin A1C levels (a snapshot of blood sugar over the previous three months).
- A study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that adding 10g of flaxseed powder daily for one month reduced fasting blood glucose by 19.7 percent.
Now that you’ve discovered how flax can help balance hormones and blood sugar, let’s look at…
How Flaxseed Promotes Heart Health
There are at least three compounds in flax – lignans, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber – that are known to benefit the heart and cardiovascular system.
And there are a growing number of studies, which help to prove the benefits, including:
- A recent analysis of 15 studies was published in Clinical Nutrition, showing that flaxseed significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- A randomized trial showed that when subjects were given 10g flaxseed in a cookie twice daily, significant improvements were measured in constipation symptoms, weight, fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and cholesterol/HDL ratio.
Before you add flax to your diet, it is important to remember that we are all biochemically unique. Each individual has different responses to different foods. While most people experience great benefits from flax, you should always gauge your personal reactions to determine the foods that suit you best.
As always, we suggest choosing an organic and non-GMO product. You can buy whole flaxseed and grind it yourself. This will result in a fresher product and reduces risk of rancidity. You can also purchase flax that has already been ground to a meal (just be sure to consume it prior to expiration). Ideally it should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to increase shelf life.
If you do wish to incorporate flax into your diet, there are quite a number of ways to use it.
- Add ground flaxmeal to smoothies
- Sprinkle it over salads or add to soup
- Add it to grain-free pancakes, muffins, bread and other baked goods
Flaxmeal is a superb ingredient for gluten-free baking. Because of its stretchy and “gluey” nature in the presence of moisture, it can help replace the properties of gluten. The results are grain-free, low-carb baked goods with toothsome texture, proper structure and the perfect crumb.
I hope you will consider using this ancient ingredient to improve your hormonal health, your blood sugar levels, your cardiovascular system… and to recreate grain-free versions of your favorite bread, pizza, pancakes and more!
Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Keto Breads – which includes more information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Keto Breads…
- Ursoniu S1, Sahebkar A2, Andrica F3, Serban C4, Banach M5; Lipid and Blood Pressure Meta-analysis Collaboration (LBPMC) Group.Effects of flaxseed supplements on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trial.Clin Nutr. 2016 Jun;35(3):615-25. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.012. Epub 2015 May 29.
- Pan A, Sun J, Chen Y, Ye X, Li H, et al. (2007) Effects of a Flaxseed-Derived Lignan Supplement in Type 2 Diabetic Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Cross-Over Trial. PLOS ONE 2(11): e1148.
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