Be Aware and Act Flax!
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
An important note about estrogen dominance:
While October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, that does not mean that our awareness and action should be relegated to one month out of the year. This is especially true because several types of cancer, as well as low thyroid function, and a host of other signs and symptoms, have one big thing in common that deserves our attention…
It’s high time that we hone our hormone awareness throughout the year! (And that goes for all of us.)
Approximately 80% of breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive.
What this means for all of us — for both self-care and client or patient care — is that one of our best cancer prevention techniques is addressing the internal hormonal equilibrium. This comes with an understanding that estrogen dominance impacts many of us (again, women and men alike).
That’s why I want to talk flax. There’s lots of confusion about this powerful little seed and I’d like you to be aware and act flax!
Estrogen dominance doesn’t just result in the formation of cancer.
Estrogen dominance has led to a significant increase in female-related disturbances as we have never before seen in history…including infertility and other reproductive challenges.
It’s a modern-day epidemic influenced by both environmental factors and our body’s abilities to break down, process and eliminate the excesses that we’re now exposed to.
Anything excess in your body functions much like a toxin. This is referred to as an endogenous toxin, a surplus occurring within the body due to compromised digestion or inefficient metabolism.
And estrogen has reached this toxic level in many of us.
Consider these facts and figures related to our cultural hormonal instability:
- the age of puberty has dropped to as low as 10 years of age
- endometriosis plagues approximately 10% of all peri-menopausal women
- PMS symptoms are increasing, afflicting a minimum of 30% of all menstruating girls and women
- uterine fibroids affect close to 25% of women between the ages of 35 to 50
- approximately10% of women are diagnosed with breast cancer
- and the symptoms of menopause are getting tougher to navigate as the root causes of those manifestations are being overlooked
Scientific data now supports the fact that hormone disruption is at the roots of all these seemingly separate but related conditions.
In comes flaxseed
While achieving hormonal balance may not come in a snack bar, I’ve got a tip that will most certainly help you on your way.
It’s one of our favorite mid-afternoon treats. It’s the Flaxie Maxie bar (adapted from a tried-and-true FxNA recipe by an awesome and devoted FxNA zealot).
Below you can learn more about why we love flax (not too little, not too much, not the wrong kind, but how great it is when it’s just right*)…
Flaxseeds are a nice source of omega-3 fatty acids, and a great addition to your diet for myriad reasons. Check it out…
Flex your flax muscle!
- Flaxseeds can be purchased whole, pre-ground, or as an oil. The whole seeds, stored in the freezer and ground weekly, or as-needed, is my favorite way to incorporate flax into my everyday routine.
- Flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA). This is an omega-3 fat that is a precursor to the form of omega-3 found in fish oils called eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA.
- Flaxseed oil provides a higher concentration of the ALA than the seeds.
- The seeds provide a host of other nutrients that are lost in the oil, including manganese, magnesium, and especially fiber!
Health benefits of consuming flax include:
- anti-inflammatory properties
- bone protection and health
- support for cancer prevention – particularly estrogen dominant cancer
- reduction in formation of blood clots leading to heart disease
- increased insulin response, beneficial for diabetics and all those with blood sugar imbalances
- blood-pressure regulation
- cholesterol management
- hot flash reduction
Buy it & Store It!
- Whole flax seeds will last longer than pre-ground flax.
- If buying in bulk, be sure the store has a good turn-over rate and the seeds are not sitting too long to ensure freshness.
- Whole flax should be stored in an airtight glass container in your refrigerator or freezer.
- Grind small amounts in a coffee-type grinder and store in a separate airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer.
- Ground flaxseeds are more prone to oxidation. Purchase in vacuum-sealed or refrigerated bags and store in an airtight glass container in your freezer.
- Flaxseed oil is especially perishable and should be purchased in opaque bottles that have been kept refrigerated.
- Flaxseed oil should have a sweet nutty flavor.
- Never use flaxseed oil in cooking; add it to foods after they have been heated.
EZ Ways to Boost Flax Intake to Start to ACE Your Hormone Balance:
- Sprinkle ground flax on hot or cold cereal.
- Add ground flax to smoothies.
- Add flaxseed oil to smoothies.
- Use flaxseed oil in place of other oils for salad dressings. (Remember to store in fridge.)
- Dip your bread into flaxseed oil instead of olive oil.
- Add ground flaxseeds to your homemade energy bars (hello Flaxie Maxie!)
- Sprinkle ground flax between the halves of an almond butter and jelly sandwich.
- My son’s favorite breakfast: Gluten-free bagel with flaxseed oil, avocado, tomato, smoked salmon, capers and some good-quality sea salt.
*Some people have questions about flax being a phytoestrogen, meaning a plant estrogen. Does it increase the levels of estrogen in our body? Likely not. In fact, it helps detoxify the more harmful forms of estrogen.
According to Lise Alschuler, author of the Definitive Guide To Cancer: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing, studies on flax lignans demonstrate safety and efficacy in their use against breast cancer, “inhibiting the growth of human estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells in mice and strengthening the tumor-inhibitory effect of tamoxifen”.
Our rule of thumb is to hit the “just right” mark.
While we’re not fans of daily consumption of crackers loaded with dehydrated whole flax seeds, we do promote the use of 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh ground flax per day.
This flexes just the right amount of flax muscle!
More Functional Nutrition posts to consider:
Lumachi F, Santeufemia DA, Basso SM. Current medical treatment of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. World J Biol Chem. 2015;6(3):231-239. doi:10.4331/wjbc.v6.i3.231
Patel S, Homaei A, Raju AB, Meher BR. Estrogen: The necessary evil for human health, and ways to tame it. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018;102:403-411. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2018.03.078
Marquardt RM, Kim TH, Shin JH, Jeong JW. Progesterone and Estrogen Signaling in the Endometrium: What Goes Wrong in Endometriosis?. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(15):3822. Published 2019 Aug 5. doi:10.3390/ijms20153822
Wall EH, Hewitt SC, Case LK, Lin CY, Korach KS, Teuscher C. The role of genetics in estrogen responses: a critical piece of an intricate puzzle. FASEB J. 2014;28(12):5042-5054. doi:10.1096/fj.14-260307
Piazza MJ, Urbanetz AA. Environmental toxins and the impact of other endocrine disrupting chemicals in women’s reproductive health. JBRA Assist Reprod. 2019;23(2):154-164. Published 2019 Apr 30. doi:10.5935/1518-0557.20190016
Guinter MA, McLain AC, Merchant AT, Sandler DP, Steck SE. A dietary pattern based on estrogen metabolism is associated with breast cancer risk in a prospective cohort of postmenopausal women. Int J Cancer. 2018;143(3):580-590. doi:10.1002/ijc.31387
Delgado BJ, Lopez-Ojeda W. Estrogen. [Updated 2021 Apr 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/
Brix N, Ernst A, Lauridsen LLB, et al. Timing of puberty in boys and girls: A population-based study. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2019;33(1):70-78. doi:10.1111/ppe.12507
Reid RL. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (Formerly Premenstrual Syndrome) [Updated 2017 Jan 23]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279045/
Borahay MA, Asoglu MR, Mas A, Adam S, Kilic GS, Al-Hendy A. Estrogen Receptors and Signaling in Fibroids: Role in Pathobiology and Therapeutic Implications. Reprod Sci. 2017;24(9):1235-1244. doi:10.1177/1933719116678686
Parikh M, Maddaford TG, Austria JA, Aliani M, Netticadan T, Pierce GN. Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1171. Published 2019 May 25. doi:10.3390/nu11051171
Parikh M, Netticadan T, Pierce GN. Flaxseed: its bioactive components and their cardiovascular benefits. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2018;314(2):H146-H159. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00400.2017
Kajla P, Sharma A, Sood DR. Flaxseed-a potential functional food source. J Food Sci Technol. 2015;52(4):1857-1871. doi:10.1007/s13197-014-1293-y
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