I mean really, flax? Have you ever heard a less appetizing name?
So remember my post about asparagus and how it helps with endometriosis and women’s health in general? This post has a similar inspiration. That’s right, ridiculous statements about miracle foods on pinterest.
Yes, those are all real pins, and yes, I’m sure they have some good information in them, but whenever I see pins like this I can’t help but cringe a little. There’s just something so…. tawdry about them. Heck yes I just used the word tawdry. I’m bringing it back. You heard it here first.
Anyway, I can’t find the exact pin that inspired this post, but it claimed that flaxseed is the perfect superfood for fighting endometriosis. There’s another tawdry word – superfood. Guys, if we want people to take food seriously as medicine, we really need better branding. But cheesy or not, I was mostly just interested to know what was behind it. Flaxseed is a fad right now but I don’t even know what it is.
…well okay, how do I even eat that?
Well the first thing I found (thanks wedMD!) is that if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you might not want to “supplement your diet” with flaxseed. We’re off to a rocky start. Why? Because two studies were done somewhere at some point, and one showed that it decreased the risk of cancer in the babies, while the other showed that it increased the risk. I’m no scientist but my personal opinion is that it must not effect it at all. Anyway, these aren’t the questions I set out to answer.
Ahh, so you can either cook with ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil. The oil doesn’t use all parts of the seed (and it’s a tiny seed to begin with. Stingy, right?) so if you want the full effect….whatever that is….go with ground. It seems to be something you’d only use as a supplement, as many websites suggest stirring it in to oatmeal, smoothies, etc. My question is if you can’t just eat it, who decided to grind it up and eat it in the first place? It must have not been very good since people are trying to hide it in other dishes.
Well if it’s icky and hard to eat, it must have some freaking sweet health benefits, right?
Flaxseed contains something a lot like estrogen, similar to soy. And, like soy, the jury is out on how much it effects endometriosis, breast cancer, and other hormone-sensitive conditions. I’m sure I’ll have some commenters come and preach the evils of soy down there, but all I have to say is that I’ve done the research and yes, some studies say it increases the risks while others say it fights it. Once again, I don’t have a PhD, but it seems to me like it just doesn’t really matter.
On the non-scientific side of things, there are people all over the internet claiming that flax seed has helped their endometriosis and just as many saying it aggravated it. And for some reason the same arguments appear over the use of flaxseed to prevent/cause acne.
Slightly more reliable sources, like Livestrong, HowStuffWorks, and The National Institutes of Health, side with the camp that flaxseed is no bueno for women. Other slightly reliable sources, like Yahoo Voices, Dr. Lera, and HerbWisdom, say that it actually balances the hormone levels rather than offsetting them.
I don’t know guys. Here’s the conclusions I’ve drawn:
1. Flaxseed is inconvenient to eat,
2. Not tasty,
3. And no one really knows if it’s good or bad for you.
Wtf internet. This is like if people started wanting to eat dirt because it might be healthy, and scientists were all like oooh I’m not sure, PLUS it doesn’t taste good, but somehow there’s still a huge fight going on over whether eating dirt is good or not! This is so heartily ridiculous! You read my post and it you’re really studious, you read the links too. You’ve got both sides of the story. Now look at this, it’s crazy…
Just to re-iterate, I’m not a doctor. But if you have endometriosis, breast cancer, or any hormone-sensitive condition, just eat other things. If you like flax seed, fine. If you don’t, fine. There is no solid info out there. Don’t believe everything you read on pinterest.
P.S. – if you DON’T have a hormone-sensitive condition, there are plenty of benefits to eating flaxseed. It’s rich in omega-3s and is an awesome source of many vitamins and minerals that vegetarians might miss out on. If you’re a meat eater, you’re probably okay without it. If you’re a woman, decide if you want to take your 50/50 odds on whether it might increase your risk for breast or cervical cancer.
You’d think this would just make me dismiss all pinterest miracle cures, but no! I’ll be doing more research for you in the near future, and I’ll present them in a dignified blog post and not tawdry clip art.