Why Eating Lots of Flax May Not Meet Your Omega-3 Needs

Eating lots of flax, which is a rich source of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), may still not be enough to convert in adequate amounts to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the forms our bodies most readily use.

EPA is considered potently anti-inflammatory, while DHA shows benefits for cognitive function.

Our bodies need to convert other omegas into these usable forms.

They need cofactors – vitamins like B6, minerals like selenium and zinc, and enzymes that buddy up with the omegas to assist the conversion.

But they also get diverted off the conversion path by nutrient deficiencies, alcohol, caffeine, drugs and medications, sugar, inflammation, environmental pollution, and of course stress.

This means a lot of factors need to “just so” for those conversions to happen in the first place, let alone to yield sufficient amounts!

Not to mention that flax seeds in particular have an outer shell that’s basically indigestible fiber. And even if we grind them up before eating them, the omegas are prone to going rancid very quickly, needing to be protected from air, light, and heat.

This is why I suggest getting whole flax seeds in small amounts, ideally in sealed opaque packaging, stored in the fridge or freezer, and ground fresh as needed.

Now, this is not to say that flax is useless as a source of omegas! Quite the contrary.

seed cyclingI’ve mentioned seed cycling [in a previous LoveBites post], which is a nutritional practice of consuming specific types of seeds at specific times in your menstrual cucle to promote better hormone balance.

Part of the reason for this is because the seeds contain lignans, a type of fiber which supports estrogen and progesterone balance. These seeds also contain different proportions of omega-3 and omega-6, which moderate both anti- and pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that may be formed from ALA as well as arachidonic acid (AA).

High presence of AA is another contributor to the diversion of omega-3 off the EPA-DHA conversion pathway, promoting more of the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. These prostaglandins in turn may contribute to menstrual cramping, and the pain associated with endometriosis and PCOS.

The balance of omegas in these seeds – flax, along with pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame – taken during the particular phases of the cycle may help to increase anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and reduce the painful effect of the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

[See the Seed Cycling post for more on how to incorporate it to your routine]

But what about EPA and DHA?

This is also why I suggest anyone eating even a whole-food plant-based diet incorporate a variety of omega-rich seeds and nuts, as well as an algae-based vegan EPA+DHA supplement. I love liquids that I can add to my smoothies!

[Check out some of my favourite omega-3 sources here – Peopletail affiliate link]

 

The Protein-Hormone Connection and How It Involves Chocolate

I love chocolate. If I had to live on one flavour forever, I feel like I’d be perfectly content choosing chocolate.

Loving chocolate and craving chocolate are not the same creature.

For the first week of World Vegan Month, I’ve been focusing on plant protein and how to get enough. Now I’m going to take a look at how protein intake is connected two-fold with chocolate cravings. Continue reading “The Protein-Hormone Connection and How It Involves Chocolate”

LoveBites: Seed Cycling

Seed cycling! Who’s doing it? Who wants to know more about it?

This is one of many tools in your arsenal for helping rein in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones involved in balancing your menstrual cycle, like testosterone, FSH, and LH.

Seeds typically used for this: flax & pumpkin for days 1-14 or follicular phase; sunflower & sesame for days 15-28 or luteal phase. But why these seeds? Continue reading “LoveBites: Seed Cycling”

PCOS Might Break Your Heart – What Can You Do?

February is Heart Month. What does that have to do with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or plant-based living?

Simply put, people with PCOS are at a greater risk of developing other metabolic disorders, including insulin resistance, diabetes, thyroid imbalance, and heart disease. Continue reading “PCOS Might Break Your Heart – What Can You Do?”

When You Haven’t Changed Anything… But Your Pants Don’t Fit

I’m no stranger to that struggle.

You’re positive that you’re not eating more food or “junkier” food but you’re still gaining weight. And you don’t think you just shrunk your clothes, are PMSing, or haven’t taken a good poop. How could this happen?

You’re not going crazy. You’re not alone. Continue reading “When You Haven’t Changed Anything… But Your Pants Don’t Fit”

Stay in Bed… All Night Long (for the Other Good Reason)

Do you feel like you’ve had a messy breakup with sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or basically running on fumes all day?

Keep reading! I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) to help you stay in bed all night long… for the other good reason. *ah-wink* Continue reading “Stay in Bed… All Night Long (for the Other Good Reason)”