Guest blog post by: Kaely McDevitt, MS, RD
Balancing hormones is a hot topic in the women’s health space today as we continue to learn more about them. We are constantly understanding more and more about how hormones work and how we can impact them through diet and lifestyle changes.
Hormones are chemicals that influence everything from our mood to our metabolism and everything in between. When they are imbalanced we suffer from symptoms like PMS, acne, mood swings, weight gain, and hot flashes. When they are balanced we feel our absolute best!
What Causes Hormonal Imbalances In Women?
The primary hormones we will cover here are estrogen and progesterone.
For women, the hormonal environment in the body changes dramatically week to week as the body navigates the phases of the menstrual cycle. As a woman nears the end of her childbearing years, even more hormonal chaos ensues. Ultimately, post-menopause, both estrogen and progesterone settle into a new low normal.
Our external environment and lifestyle also plays a significant role in hormonal balance. High stress lifestyles, nutrient-depleted diets, inflammatory foods, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and disruption of our circadian rhythm all have the ability to throw our body off balance.
Fortunately, there are things you can do with your diet and lifestyle to give your body a little extra support! One of these things is to consider including a high quality ground flaxseed in your routine.
Milled flaxseed has been a long-standing staple in a healthy diet thanks to the fact that it is packed with a TON of nutrients and essential fatty acids. Milled flaxseed is also extremely versatile and tastes great – two major perks that make this food easy to incorporate.
Since our body uses specific nutrients and fats to build hormones, let’s take look at how flaxseed specifically can help you attain hormonal balance.
Lignans are an antioxidant-rich plant compound that behave as a phytoestrogen. A phytoestrogen is a compound that can behave similar to estrogen and modulate its effects in the body.
Flaxseed lignans actually seem to be able to increase or decrease the effects of estrogen in the body based on the particular need of the individual – cool, huh?
In menstruating women, studies have found that women who consume just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed per day reduced the number of anovulatory (absence of ovulation) cycles. They also attained a more favorable progesterone to estrogen ratio (1).
In postmenopausal women, supplementing a diet with flaxseed produced a shift to the less biologically active form of estrogen. This could potentially provide protection against estrogen-induced cancers and health issues without negatively impacting bone health (2).
While you may know that fiber is important for keeping your digestion regular and maintaining healthy blood lipid levels – did you know that regular digestion is also crucial for hormone balance?
Feeling our best stems from our body achieving the ideal balance of progesterone and estrogen. Anytime that balance is out of whack hormonal symptoms may arise.
Our liver has the ability to pack up excess estrogen and pass it off to our digestive tract for removal in a bowel movement. If we aren’t having regular bowel movements, this estrogen cannot be excreted from the body. If this happens, the estrogen may actually be reabsorbed through the intestinal tract, exacerbating hormone symptoms.
Manitoba Milling’s Smooth Whole-Milled Flaxseed contains 4 grams of fiber per serving. It has both soluble and insoluble fiber which add bulk to stools and help with regularity and digestion. Did you know you should be getting at least 25 grams of fiber each day? Here’s how.
Essential Fatty Acids
Healthy fats are the building blocks for our hormones! Consuming flaxseed is a great way to give your body the raw materials it needs for proper hormone production. In addition, flaxseed may help to reduce inflammation by providing the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Reducing inflammation has profound benefits to our digestive tract, nutrient absorption and assimilation, and reducing chronic stress on the body. Learn more about omega-3 fatty acids here.
There are many ways and many reasons to consider add ground flaxseed into your daily routine. It’s always awesome to find an easy (and tasty) way to boost health through real food, right?!
Find more ways to include flaxseed in your diet on the Manitoba Milling Co. blog and Pinterest page.
About the Author:
Kaely McDevitt is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She uses integrative and functional nutrition to help her clients gain control over how they look, feel, and function for life. She received her BS in Dietetics from James Madison University and completed her dietetic internship at St. Louis University. She is now in private practice specializing in hormone balance and digestive health. She is energized by helping others take the driver’s seat on their journey to their happiest, healthiest self. Visit her website or follow her on Instagram to learn more.
- Phipps, W.R., Martini, M.C., Lampe, J.W., Slavin, J.L., Kurzer, M.S. (1993). Effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 77(5):1215 – 1219
- Brooks, Jennifer D, et al. “Supplementation with Flaxseed Alters Estrogen Metabolism in Postmenopausal Women to a Greater Extent than Does Supplementation with an Equal Amount of Soy.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 79, no. 2, 2004, pp. 318–325., doi:10.1093/ajcn/79.2.318.
- Phytoestrogens: the “natural” selective estrogen receptor modulators? Brzezinski, Amnon et al. European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology , Volume 85 , Issue 1 , 47 – 51
- Watteville, H. D., Borth, R., & Gsell, M. (1948). EFFECT OF dl-α-TOCOPHEROL ACETATE ON PROGESTERONE METABOLISM. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 8(11), 982-992. doi:10.1210/jcem-8-11-982