Can Flax Help Balance Hormones
Hormonal imbalances can be an uphill battle. Our hormones affect almost every aspect of our daily lives, from metabolism to heart rate, sleep cycles and reproductive cycles. Understanding how our diets play a role in our hormones is important.
It is without question that flaxseeds are a superfood. They are rich in nutrients that provide our bodies with healthy fats, antioxidants, aid in digestion, weight loss, and prevent chronic illness. Also, flaxseeds take part in helping balance our hormones. There is a significant amount of evidence showcasing this in post menopausal women, all due to special little compounds called “lignans.” If you read our previous blog post, you’ll know that flaxseeds are full of these special antioxidants.
How do Flax Seeds Help Balance Hormones?
Flax seeds are rich in lignans, which help bind excess estrogen in the intestinal tract. This ensures that the excess estrogen is excreted in the feces. This is especially important in cases of estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance includes irregular menses and heavy bleeding, weight gain, fibroids/endometriosis, depression/anxiety/irritability, and a low libido.
Lignans are also known for stimulating the production of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). The more circulating SHBG we have in our blood, the more it binds to estrogen. Making it less available for binding to receptors and contributing to estrogen dominance symptoms.
Flaxseeds and Breast Cancer
A common question asked if patients with Estrogen Receptor Positive (ER+) breast cancer should avoid flaxseed, due to the fact that flaxseeds are the richest dietary source of lignans, a type of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens in our body are recognized as estrogen, and this similarity causes our bodies to produce a less active form of estrogen. Studies have shown this may reduce risk of breast cancer. It is recommended that a moderate amount of flaxseed should be taken daily, about two to three tablespoons per day at most.
Flaxseeds and Seed Cycling
Hormonal experts promote a naturopathic concept, known as seed cycling as a way to regulate and normalize your menstrual cycle. This includes eating flax seeds and pumpkin seeds during the first, follicular phase (Days 1-14) of your cycle, when your period starts. These seeds promote enhanced uterine blood flow and maintain healthy cell membranes. It is all thanks to the amount of phytoestrogens and lignans flax seeds contain that make them the perfect component for hormone regulation!