Health Benefits

Flax for Hot Flashes?

Posted on January 3, 2008. Filed under: Health Benefits |

By Esther Hylden RN

Golden Valley Flax

     Could this be true?  Could eating just a few spoonfuls of flax daily cool hot flashes?  A study from the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology suggests that this indeed is true.  After eating about 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily for six weeks, the study’s 21 members had a 50 percent drop in hot-flash frequency and showed improvements in mood and muscle pain.  The lead study author, Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., notes that flax is a source of plant –based estrogens and shows promise as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for hot-flash relief.  As a 51-year-old flax user, I must add that I have never had a hot flash…even though I could definitely be described as a menopausal woman.  So…if frequent heat waves are hampering your lifestyle…try adding flax seed to your daily diet and get ready to say good-by to hot flashes!

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Can Flax Help Prevent Strokes?

Posted on December 6, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits | Tags: , , , |

By Esther Hylden RN     

    Harvest time is a busy time on our farm.  Everyone pitches in to help get our crops harvested.  Often Mark’s Uncle Mike, a retired teacher and farmer, helps by driving the combine.  However, one crisp October morning, Uncle Mike, who is 84 years old, called Grandpa Don to say that he would not be able to work that day.  He proceeded to tell Don that he thought he was having a stroke.  Interestingly, he talked first about farming, and then about the stroke.   Since Uncle Mike lives alone on a neighboring farm, upon hearing of a possible stroke, Mark rushed over to help him.  When he arrived, he found the house empty.  Uncle Mike had driven himself to the hospital!  As it turned out, the stroke was mild.  Uncle Mike was back combining in about ten days.  This example from our personal lives has led me to gather information on stroke that I hope will be helpful to all of you.   

    The first question is what are the signs of a stroke?                                            

Stroke Warning Signs

A stroke is a medical emergency.  Every second counts, because time lost is a brain lost!  Here are the warning signs:
*Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
*Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
*Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
*Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
*Sudden, severe headache with no known cause. 

If you or someone you know has one or more of these signs, don’t delay!  Call 9-1-1 and get to your nearest hospital.  Take note of when the signs started, as a clot-busting drug given within three hours of the start of the symptoms can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.    

   Finally, and perhaps most importantly, can including flax in your diet help prevent a stroke?                                         

   Flax is rich in fiber and the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) .  Both of these are known to have important beneficial properties in fighting heart disease and stroke.  A study was conducted at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco, California. Using data from an earlier research program called MRFIT (short for Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial), this study focused on factors contributing to reducing the risk of strokes in men.  Researchers discovered that middle-aged men who had elevated levels of ALA in their blood enjoyed a 37% reduction in the incidence of strokes.  As flax is high in ALA content, taking it on a daily basis clearly is beneficial in helping to prevent a stroke.    

   During this Christmas Season, take time to eat healthy foods, exercise, and enjoy your friends and family.  Take time to visit an elderly friend, neighbor or relative who may be spending Christmas alone this year…maybe that hour will be the best part of the Season.                                  

Have a Blessed Christmas,                                      

Esther Hylden RN  

References:American Stroke Association “Learn and Live.”Flax Your Way to Better Health by Jane Reinhardt-Martin, RD,LD

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Flaxseed and Celiac Disease

Posted on November 13, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits, Recipes |

    What is Celiac Disease?  Celiac Disease is an inherited, autoimmune condition in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten.  Gluten is the name for proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley.  The only treatment for Celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life.   

   The symptoms of Celiac disease include recurrent attacks of diarrhea, stomach cramps, weakness, osteoporosis, bone and joint pain, dry skin, eczema, brittle nails, mood changes and irritability.  Specific blood screening tests are available to help diagnose Celiac disease; however, the only definitive test is a small intestinal biopsy.   

   It is difficult to adhere to the strict gluten-free diet that is prescribed for the person diagnosed with Celiac disease.  Gluten is found in many different foods, such as breads, baked products, cereals, soups, snack foods, and prepared meats.  It is even found in some flavored coffees, teas, soy beverages, communion wafers and candy.  However, there are many gluten- free foods also.  Flaxseed is gluten free, as is plain meat, fish, vegetables, rice, and soy.  Flaxseed is an excellent choice for the person with Celiac disease, as it is not only gluten-free, but is an excellent source of vitamins, protein, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber.     

   For the individuals who are experiencing diarrhea as a symptom of their Celiac disease, it is advisable to wait until the diarrhea has diminished before adding any more fiber to the diet.  Once the diarrhea is stabilized, ground flax may be gradually added to the diet, starting with 1 tsp. per day.  When adding more fiber to the diet, it is important to drink at least 8 glasses of fluid (preferably water) per day.  Here are some tips to incorporate more ground flax into a gluten-free diet.    

*  Add 1 tsp to 3 tbsp to hot cereal, or to pancakes, waffles or crepes.  
*  Sprinkle on yogurt, frozen yogurt or ice cream.   
*  Add to your favorite breakfast fruit smoothie drinks.
*  Use ¼ cup in meatloaf, casseroles and rice dishes.
*  Add to salads and soups.
*  Use ground flax in muffins, bread, cookies and snack bars.

  Adhering to a Gluten-free diet is difficult, but not impossible.  The results are a healthy, symptom free lifestyle, and that is certainly worth the effort!    Enjoy the rest of your summer.  Take time for a picnic, a walk on the beach and the company of family and friends.     

To your good health,  
Esther Hylden RN  

References: The Essential Flax.  Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission.  Flaxseed and Celiac Disease, contributed by Shelley Case, registered professional dietitian. 

Diseases.  The Nurse’s Reference Library.

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Can Flax Prevent Diabetes?

Posted on October 15, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits |

Flax Health Report…Can Flax Prevent Diabetes?

by Esther Hylden RN

    This month I will review an article entitled, Planting a Seed, Can Flax Prevent Diabetes? Andrea Hutchins, PhD, RD is the assistant Professor at the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Colorado.  Hutchins notes that people with pre-diabetes can slash their risk of developing diabetes by as much as 58 percent if they lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through diet and exercise. However, Hutchins asks if there are additional ways to control blood glucose in people with pre-diabetes. 

    “We know that flaxseed has a lot of soluble fiber, which plays a role in controlling glucose levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates in the gut,” Hutchins says.  “But flaxseed is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to improve insulin sensitivity.” 

    Using funds from an American Diabetes Association Research Award, Hutchins and her team are studying how flaxseed intake affects blood glucose in 70 overweight adults with pre-diabetes.  The study will be broken into three 12- week sessions. In the first 12- week session, the participants will keep a written record of their food intake.  During the second segment, they’ll also take 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day.  Finally, in the third segment, they’ll take 4 tablespoons per day.  At the end of the study, the researchers will compare the results of the blood tests, and determine if the participants’ blood glucose was reduced when they took flaxseed.  Hutchins says, “If we can find a way to intervene in pre-diabetes and slow its progression to type 2 diabetes over the long run, then hopefully we’ll see a reduction in the development of diabetes-related complications like heart disease, as well.”

    I will be following this research, and will report to you the findings as soon as I hear them.  Andrea Hutchins is asking a good question, and has a well thought out plan to determine the answer.  Until the results are in, exercise, eat well, live well, and of course…take your flax every day! 

To your good health,

Esther Hylden RN


Planting a Seed, Can Flax Prevent Diabetes?

By Terri D’Arrigo

Diabetes Forecast, September 2007


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Flax and Cholesterol

Posted on October 3, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits |

It was in the year 2000 that my husband Mark was diagnosed with high cholesterol.  We searched the literature in an effort to find methods to lower his cholesterol.  The little word, flax, kept showing up, so he decided to add it to his diet.  Slowly but surely, his cholesterol started to go in a downward direction. 

What exactly is cholesterol and why is too much bad for us?  Cholesterol is a substance found in some foods, notably animal fats, eggs and dairy products.  An over high level of cholesterol in the blood is associated with atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis is the development of fatty streaks inside the walls of the blood vessels.  An abundance of fatty streaks leads to stroke and heart attack. 

 At the 54th Flax Institute of the United States, the findings of a study conducted to determine flax’s potential for use in the prevention and treatment of heart disease was presented.  Test subjects were separated into two groups, one group had high cholesterol, and the other group had normal cholesterol.  Both groups ate two flax muffins daily, consuming 45 grams of flax per day.  At the end of the study period, the group with group with high cholesterol had a reduction in their triglycerides by 17%.  Additional studies on the effects of flax on cholesterol have been conducted, all with the strong suggestion that the consumption of flax on a daily basis is truly a heart-healthy benefit.

Mark and I continue to take flax on a daily basis; it has helped us in our fight against elevated cholesterol.

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Flax….and the Holidays

Posted on September 18, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits |

I am not one of those naturally skinny people.  You know, those people who at 5:00pm mention in passing, “hmmm, I’m a little hungry; come to think of it…I think I missed lunch.”  Not me…I know where every item of food is in my kitchen, and wake up in the morning raring to eat breakfast!   On the one hand, I love to eat; on the other hand, I have a strong desire to be fit and healthy.  Thus, the holidays have always been a challenge for me.  My goal is, and always has been, to maintain my weight over these next few hazardous weeks.     So…where does flax fit in with all of this?  Well, flax is high in fiber; one ounce of flax provides 32% of the RDA amount of fiber needed daily.  Fiber is important in promoting regular bowel movements and provides bulk to our diets.  This bulk fills us up!!!  I have been eating flax on a regular basis for such a long time that I had almost forgotten how filling flax is.  I recently had my “coming of age” colonoscopy.  As part of the prep, I had to refrain from eating flax for 5 days prior to the procedure.  What a difference it made to my appetite!  I normally eat my flax in the morning, and consequently feel full until noon.  Well…without my flax, I was ready to eat a horse by 10:00am!  I was starved!  I was so happy to have that procedure completed (in more ways than one) and get back on my flax.  (By the way, my test results were terrific…must be all that flax! )      Therefore, concerning Flax and the Holiday’s, I plan to change my strategy somewhat.  On days that I know that I have an evening party to attend, I will divide my daily intake of flax.  I will take half in the morning, and half before the party.  The fiber will fill me up, and instead of filling my plate three times with all that wonderful food, I will choose only the items that are my favorites.  I will slowly eat them, and will savor each bite.  I will focus on my friends, family and the real meaning of Christmas.  I will exercise daily, in some way, shape or form…(is shopping exercise?) and will weigh the same on January 2nd as I did the day before Thanksgiving. There you have it…Flax and the Holidays.  Join me as we work hard to remain fit, healthy and happy this Holiday Season.To Your Good Health,
Esther Hylden RN

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Colon Cancer…Can It Be Prevented?

Posted on September 5, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits |

On July 10, 1982, my father passed away after a two-year battle with colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States.  It develops slowly from benign polyps (grape-like growths) on the lining of the colon (large intestine) Since then, the prevention of colon cancer has been one of my personal goals.  This September 15th  I turn 50, and while that brings many things to mind, in the forefront of what turning 50 means to me…is that it now is the time for my first colonoscopy!  Even though I would rather just about be doing anything other than having a colonoscopy, I have scheduled it, and on Sept. 27th, two weeks after turning 50, it will be done.  In addition to regular screening, what else can be done to prevent colon cancer?  .

The American Cancer Society has some suggestions:
1.     Don’t smoke; drink alcohol in moderation.
2.     Eat less meat, processed foods, more  high fiber foods.
3.     Take folate, calcium supplements.
4.     Exercise regularly.
5.     Schedule a colon cancer screening.
I have taken to heart these suggestions from the American Cancer Society.  It was because of the colon cancer history in my family that I started taking flax on a regular basis about five years ago.  Flax is high in fiber; one-ounce supplies 32% of the recommended daily intake of fiber.  Yet, it is not only because of the fiber that flax is helpful in the quest to prevent colon cancer.  I attended the Flax Institute held in Fargo, North Dakota this past March.  The Flax Institute is a gathering of people who meet every two years to share and discuss research results about flax.  (Mark and I attend every two years, in an effort to keep abreast of the latest scientific findings regarding flax.)  This past March my ears perked up as Chaandradar Dwivedi from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Veterinary Sciences from South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD stood up to present his findings on the Chemopreventive Effects of Dietary Flaxseed Meal on Colon Cancer Development.  Flax seed was chosen to be studied, as it is the richest plant source of lignan precursors.  Lignans have been shown to be protective against breast and colon cancer.  Flax seed is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids.  The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of flax seed on colon tumor development and to compare it with dietary corn meal, containing Omega 6 acids.  The incidence of colon tumors (cancer tumors were initiated) in rats fed flax seed was 29.4%.  The incidence of colon tumors in corn fed rats was 82.6%.   The tumors in the flax fed rats measured 5.2mm; the tumors of the corn fed rats measured 44.4mm.  In this study, the ingestion of dietary flax seed meal, which is high in both Omega 3 fatty acids and lignans, showed a substantial chemopreventime effects on colon tumor development in rats.  The results from this study indicate that taking moderate amounts of flax seed on a daily basis could be effective in reducing the risk of developing colon cancer.  Further studies need to be done in this area, and I look forward to learning about them and reporting them to you.For my part, I will continue to take flax on a daily basis, exercise, continue my tobacco-free, healthy lifestyle and have the screening as recommended by the American Cancer Society.  The good news is that…colon cancer can be prevented!

To Your Good Health,

Esther Hylden RN

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