4

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Flax Seeds and Phytoestrogin

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 13, 2011 at 1:08 AM

I've been consuming two tablespoons of ground flax seeds a day. (Fwiw, this is how I believe Seth Roberts takes his flax, which I privilege because his self-experimental results are impressive.)

Previous threads suggest that flax should be avoided because it contains 4x the phytoestrogens of soy. However, whereas soy tends to be consumed in large amounts - e.g., a cup of soy milk - I only consume 2 tablespoons of flax.

At such a small dose, should I still be concerned about the phytoestrogin content of flax?

Caveat: please don't respond that I should take fish oil instead of flax because of ALA's poor conversion rate into DHA and EPA. I'm working on the assumption that flax and ALA probably have distinct effects. Plus, I already take fish oil every day.

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on November 20, 2011
at 05:57 PM

As Eric's link shows, he takes ground flaxseed in yogurt. 2 servings of 3 tablespoons (morning and night). He says in that post why he chooses ground over oil.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 15, 2011
at 07:52 PM

and ? ..........

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on September 14, 2011
at 10:05 PM

Might improve sleep as well.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on September 14, 2011
at 10:04 PM

He notes cognitive improvements measured by arithmetic and balance tests, healthier gums (Tyler Cowen no longer needed gum surgery after implementing SR's flax protocol), and several readers reported improved recovery from training injuries. It's pretty cool. Here is his omega-3 directory, which almost exclusively focuses on flax.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on September 14, 2011
at 09:57 PM

Took me a few minutes to find this link, but it turns out that my memory was correct, SR grinds whole seeds. Actually, I was only partly right, as his dose is way larger than I thought: 6 tablespoons! http://blog.sethroberts.net/2011/08/03/my-daily-dose-of-flax-seed/

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 13, 2011
at 08:26 PM

sardinian peeoople eat chickpeas high in phytoestrogen

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 13, 2011
at 01:20 AM

I wonder if the cold-pressed oil has less phytoestrogen?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 13, 2011
at 01:18 AM

I like how you are thinking in terms of amount of a particular food rather than simply "is this food good or bad." Even unfermented soy is fine in small amounts relative to total calories. People unnecessarily freak about soy, PUFA, flax, etc.

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10 Answers

3
F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on September 13, 2011
at 05:09 PM

I get a strong phytoestrogen effect from flax. I tried a flax fiber supplement a few years ago and within 3 days I had female troubles (same effect as if I had eaten soy). Not sure how that would work for a man, but if there are other sources of phytoestrogen in your diet (plastics, water supply, some brands of milk, hemp, environmental factors)..those little bits of estrogen can add up.

2
62f89aa727cf3ce77c36651347cabc14

(884)

on September 14, 2011
at 09:21 PM

Hormones are extremely potent even in small doses. I wouldn't stress about eating some at a potluck, but I wouldn't include them as part of a daily routine.

I'm not familiar with the benefits Seth found, but you list the dangers and alternatives already.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on September 14, 2011
at 10:04 PM

He notes cognitive improvements measured by arithmetic and balance tests, healthier gums (Tyler Cowen no longer needed gum surgery after implementing SR's flax protocol), and several readers reported improved recovery from training injuries. It's pretty cool. Here is his omega-3 directory, which almost exclusively focuses on flax.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on September 14, 2011
at 10:05 PM

Might improve sleep as well.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 13, 2011
at 07:45 AM

I think you shouldn't be concerned. Phytoestrogens have different effect (bot positive and negative) but this research is far from concluded. More, soy???s phytoestrogens are not the same as flaxs (isoflavones vs lignans).

Since you are a man, it may influence estrogen pathways in your body which, AFAIK, can prevent or induce big man boobs (phytoestrogens can produce estrogen-like effects or the opposite).

ALA, DHA, EPA have distinct roles in the body, conversion isn't the problem. If you are concerned about the industrialization, eat walnuts, they are very high in ALA.

You should be careful with such big amounts. Its hormonal thing. Note your boobs size and note your libido.

You should also examine your Vitamin E status with flax oil. It can help to stabilize oil, but its also estrogen antagonist. Perhaps taking it is a good idea to minimize phytoestrogen effects which like I said might be good (Rasveratrol) or bad.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 13, 2011
at 08:26 PM

sardinian peeoople eat chickpeas high in phytoestrogen

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 15, 2011
at 07:52 PM

and ? ..........

0
47cbd166d262925037bc6f9a9265eb20

(55)

on March 20, 2014
at 10:13 AM

Not all phytoestrogens are same. Flaxseeds are such a source of lignans that nothing else comes close in it, and they are antiestrogenic, so much that they are compared to tamoxifen:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304383597004825

I ground and use a tablespoon daily.

0
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19483)

on March 18, 2014
at 09:28 AM

tl;dr: flax isn't paleo, counts as "industrial seed oil."

0
16ad3703f431448d7e0d487aa7278ad2

(0)

on March 17, 2014
at 06:28 PM

I can confirm what other females have said regarding flax consumption.

Yes: flax is a potent enough source of plant estrogen to disrupt your normal cycles and cause other side effects associated with fluctuating estrogen levels (i.e. acne, bloating, emotional disturbances, etc.). If you have any disorders that are hormone sensitive, use flax seed sparingly and with a good deal of caution. It can make conditions like poly-cystic ovarian syndrome and fibroids much worse.

Not all people react to flax similarly. The ability to metabolize the flax and use the estrogen varies from person to person. Some people simply don't have the intestinal flora or innate enzymes to efficiently break down the plant estrogen very well and those folks simply urinate/defecate out much of the phytoestrogen unused. Others have bodies that are masters at breaking down and absorbing plant estrogen and must be very cautious about flax consumption. Just as brown eyes aren't superior to blue, neither body type is better - we're all simply different.

I (unknowingly) fell into the later group and happen to metabolize phytoestrogen from flax very well. I was eating 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flax per day with my oatmeal in the mornings. I did this for about eight weeks, with no apparent side effects outside of a mysterious case of acne (I'm 37 and hadn't struggled with acne before). On week nine I went out of town for a three week vacation and left my flax at home. I'd finished my last normal (5 day) menstrual cycle just a few days prior to departure. In spite of that, I started bleeding 7 days after being off flax. The bleeding continued for two weeks. During that span of time I saw my regular physician, an OB/GYN, and had 3 pelvic exams and an ultrasound to rule out infections, endometriosis, fibroids, cancer, pregnancy, etc. The bleeding then ceased - only to pick up again 11 days later and continue for another 2 weeks. Long story short: the culprit was flax. It took me almost 3 months to stabilize.

My physician recommended that if I were determined to eat flax, that I do it sparingly and infrequently. I'm abiding by that guideline and have returned to my happy healthy self. Best of luck to everyone out there trying to figure out what's best for their own body. Hope this information benefits someone else!

0
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on April 14, 2013
at 07:23 PM

Daily ingestion of ground flax seeds led to heavy (female) bleeding for me that continued for 8 weeks before I finally realized it was the flax and stopped eating it. The phytoestrogens, in my experience, are active. I would approach with caution.

0
B716e84aab51dc5a2b1f81c241cfec2b

on April 14, 2013
at 12:23 PM

1 1/2 years ago, I was told by a doctor to take 2 tbsp. ground flax for my IBS-C every morning. It was supposed to provide a non-fermentable fiber that would control constipation. After taking it for over a year, though, I decided to stop taking it as it did NOT make any difference to my condition. It was only when I started my new SCD diet, about 4 months ago, that there was a definite improvement in my health. You may also be interested in this: http://www.austinscdfriends.com/articles/article/3691416/57666.htm.

0
75e8ceee00e2459860ea38220a3a8118

on September 18, 2012
at 02:25 PM

I've been taking 2 tablespoons/day of (Organic Traditions brand) sprouted, ground flax seeds, mostly because it's my favourite form of fibre. (I also take fish oil.) In addition to the fibre, I like the fact that it's more of a whole food than its oil would be. Am I correct in thinking that since I'm post-menopausal the phytoestrogens are less of a concern?

0
Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9

(2539)

on September 13, 2011
at 02:31 AM

I was under the impression the Seth Roberts takes the oil? Pretty sure most of his readers who report good results use the oil too.

From my understanding, the oil does not have the phytoestrogens that the seeds do.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on September 14, 2011
at 09:57 PM

Took me a few minutes to find this link, but it turns out that my memory was correct, SR grinds whole seeds. Actually, I was only partly right, as his dose is way larger than I thought: 6 tablespoons! http://blog.sethroberts.net/2011/08/03/my-daily-dose-of-flax-seed/

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on November 20, 2011
at 05:57 PM

As Eric's link shows, he takes ground flaxseed in yogurt. 2 servings of 3 tablespoons (morning and night). He says in that post why he chooses ground over oil.

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