Monday, September 24, 2007

Flax and Diabetes: Taking Health to the Next Level

Ask Glen!

Q. Glen, Is there anything I can add to my diet to help me with diabetes and any other related diseases?

A. Have you heard of flaxseeds? If not, you could be missing a wonderful food that provides protection from two conditions that are more common in people with diabetes: heart disease and cancer.

Over 25 studies have shown that flaxseeds can reduce the risk for heart disease. Specifically, flax lowers total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Additionally, natural compounds within flax make arteries more elastic and can have stabilizing effects on heart rhythm. Collectively, these benefits reduce the risk for heart attacks and strokes, both common complications of diabetes.

As for cancer, flaxseed appears to reduce tumor size and number in breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Flaxseeds increase the amount of healthy estrogens while reducing levels of harmful estrogens. This may be one reason why hormone related cancers seem to respond particularly well to flax.

The main compounds which are though to account for much of the impressive health benefits of flax are ALA (alpha linoleic acid) and lignans. It is remarkable that there are no other plant foods known which contain such high levels of either of these powerful agents.

ALA is a well-known plant precursor to EPA and DHA, the valuable types of fats known as omega-3s which are normally found pre-formed in fish or fish oil. ALA can convert in small amounts to EPA and DHA.

The lignans found in flaxseeds contain a powerful antioxidant called SDG. SDG has been shown to slow down and reduce the development of diabetes in genetically predisposed rats. SDG from flaxseeds has also been shown to have protective effects on the kidney and prevent fat deposits in the liver of rats as well, two common problems that can occur in individuals with diabetes.

Flaxseeds are also an excellent remedy for constipation. With the American diet already being woefully low in fiber, flaxseeds can add more of this important element into the diet.

Flaxseeds can be found whole, ground, or pressed into flaxseed oil. The most beneficial way to consume flaxseed is ground. Whole flaxseeds are not able to be broken down by the digestive system. Grinding or crushing is needed to break open the seed so that the valuable nutrients and protective plant compounds can be liberated and used by the body.

Flaxseed oil lacks the beneficial fibers, nutrients, and lignans normally found in whole ground flax. Not only that, but according to flax expert, Jane Reinhardt-Martin, RD, a person would need to take eight pills to get the equivalent of only a ½ teaspoon of ground flaxseeds. Those using flaxseed oil capsules would need to ingest 10-14 pills just to get the equivalent of one tablespoon of flaxseed oil! Clearly, ground flaxseeds are the least expensive and most beneficial way to add flax into your diet.

One tablespoon (8 grams) of ground flaxseed contains 36 calories, 1.6 grams of protein, 3.3 grams of heart healthy fat, 2 grams of total carbohydrate and 2 grams of dietary fiber. Due to its negligible carbohydrate content and high fiber content, flaxseeds do not raise blood glucose levels when added to the diet.

Most experts recommend adding at least 1-2 rounded tablespoons of ground flax to your daily diet for optimal health. Flax has a pleasant, nutty flavor making it versatile for adding it to a variety of foods. Here are some simple ideas for integrating flax into your lifestyle:

  • Sprinkle into yogurt, natural applesauce, green salad, or fruit salad.
  • Add into cereal, soups and casseroles
  • Add into recipes for whole-grain breads, muffins or pancakes
  • Blend into smoothies or protein shakes
  • Add to fiber supplement powders (Metamucil® or psyllium, for example)

    Because flaxseeds contain oil and are susceptible to rancidity, they should be stored in airtight containers and keep refrigerated for up to four months after grinding or after opening pre-ground, sealed packages.

    Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program. Please consult your physician !

  • Wishing You Great Health!

    Any questions? Ask Glen!

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    About Me

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    Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
    Is the Founder of Fitness Builders 4 Life,the WorkOut GEM,G350,G180, G90, Eat 4 Life, Clean, Lean & Mean & Ask Glen. The mission of the Fitness Builders is to provide the community with health education and to empower people to change unhealthy lifestyles thereby increasing life expectancy. By educating the community on healthier lifestyle practices it is the intent of Fitness Builders to reduce the ravages of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle or self inflicted diseases. Glen is also a AMA Certified Nutrition Specialist and a ACE, ACSM, NASM Certified Personal Trainer has 30+ years in Sports, Exercise Science and Nutritional Food Management, Learning and Mentoring Men and Women on a more Mental & Physical Healthy Life Style consisting of a low fat, low salt, Low carbohydrate, high protein, organic nutrition which also includes moderate exercise and mental awareness. Stay Informed, Live long and be Mentally and Physically Healthy! Any questions? Ask Glen!

    Any Questions? Ask Glen!