Julia's Guardian Angel Fund

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flax Seed - vs - Boys

I'm sure you've hear all the hype about boys-vs-soy. I believe it's true. I had done a great deal of research on phytoestrogens a long time ago because it just seemed interesting to me and I was dealing with unexplained infertility. A good article outlines some of the issues with soy is here. I will now actively be trying to avoid all soy.

But that is not what I'm writing about today. My latest concern is about flax. Flax seed is touted as another "super food". It's full of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. It's got lots of protein, it's an antioxidant, it's a great source of dietary fiber and lignans. It's the lignans about which I'm concerned. Lignans are a group of chemical compounds found in plants. Lignans are one of the major classes of phytoestrogens, which are estrogen-like chemicals. Flax seed contains 126 times the amount of phytoestrogens (as lignans) as the equivalent amount of soy milk. Now, you aren't going to make a 1:1 substitution of flax for soy, but here's my concern. I have been having spectacular success substituting flax seed meal mixed with water as my egg substitute. Tinkerdoodle and I have an egg allergy and this has allowed us to eat many of the same things everyone else is eating.

Here's what the makers of flax seed or flax oil are touting as health benefits. See if you can help me pick out the issue this might have for a boy:
  • Cancer Health - Increased phytoestrogens have the potential to lower breast and colon cancer risk. (Normal levels of estrogen = lower risk for breast cancer)
  • Menopause - Phytoestrogens may offer an efficient and safe alternative to available hormone intervention options. (Enough said. Would you put your boy on HRT?)
  • Prostate Health - An increasing body of evidence shows that Lignans maintain good prostate health and protect from cancer cell growth. (Prostates can enlarge because of excess free testosterone in the blood stream. Estrogen reduces that.)
  • Hair Health - Flax lignans can prevent hair loss and thinning hair. (Thinning hair can be caused by an excessive amount of testosterone)
  • Acne Health - Recent research points to flax lignans as a natural alternative for the treatment of acne. (Boys have more acne because they have more testosterone, which tends to peak in adolescence.)
  • Bone Health - Lignans may offer protection against the loss of calcium and other minerals. (Lower levels of estrogen can lead to bone loss, therefore, increasing estrogen helps prevent that.)
  • Heart Health - Antioxidant benefits of lignans protect against damage which contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. (A study by Women's Health Initiative shows that women on estrogen therapy had less plaque build up in their arteries than those not on estrogen therapy.)
  • Healthy Skin - Improved skin conditions for psoriasis, eczema, hives and dry skin. ( A 2005 Archive of Dermatology report in JAMA found that women that were pregnant had improved skin conditions because of an increase in estrogen.)
  • Type I and II Diabetes - Research has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing glucose levels and decreasing the onset of developing diabetes. (Studies have shown estrogen levels affect glucose levels.)
  • ADHD - Research has shown reduced need for Ritalin and other medications in affecting behavior in children. (Yup. When boys act like girls, the teachers like that.)
Here's the only warning I found about flax seed, which I think gives one pause:
Large amount intake of flax seed may upset hormonal balance. Studies on animals have reported birth defects.
The problem is called "Estrogen Dominance". It can affect how children's organs develop and cause problems for the rest of their lives. So, we'll be laying off the flax seed and soy around here!

1 comment:

  1. Wow....some of my boys drink soy milk. And...I've recently started using flax seed/water as an egg substitute as well (thinking I was causing a positive dietary change here). You've given me something to think about here.....