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5 ways flax seeds keep you healthy

* SOOTHES YOUR GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT - As a rule, Eskimos don’t get inflammatory bowel disease because of all the omega-3 they get from eating fish. Fish oil can help if you have trouble with an irritated bowel. But you might not like the fishy aftertaste, burping, and bad breath that comes with it. In many studies, people who were given fish oil capsules stopped taking them because of these side effects.

But flaxseed oil, with its mild flavor, can give you’re the same benefits of fish oil. So if you can’t bring yourself to eat one more serving of fish, why not add this oil to a salad of dark green, leafy vegetables? You’ll boost your omega-3 intake and soothe your intestines at the same time.

 

* CHASES AWAY ARTHRITIS PAIN - If you were born in Japan, chances are you would never get arthritis. What protects this population? The same substance the keeps Eskimos healthy - omega-3. Having the right balance of fatty acids in your body can protect your immune system from breaking down and causing diseases like arthritis.

Dr. Donald Rudin, a Harvard-trained physician and medial researcher, believes immune disorders can often be traced to out-of-balance omegas in your body. He explains the effect of fatty acids on the immune system in his book Omega-3 Oils: A Practical Guide.

“Normally, the immune system is kept under control by the body’s essential fatty acid-based regulatory system,” he says. “But dietary distortions, especially a shortage of the omega-3 fatty acids, are now known to contribute to - or even prompt - the breakdown of the immune system.”

Rudin recommends one tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day for 100 pound person who is deficient in omega-3. He also suggests you take a multivitamin. If you have food allergies, though, you should start with less oil and gradually add more. But don’t overdo it. Taking more than six tablespoons daily might actually make your symptoms worse.

* PROTECTS YOUR HEART - Omega-3 fats contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an ingredient that should be near and dear to your heart. Eating ALA-rich foods like flax can make your blood less sticky, which keeps it from clotting too fast and causing a blockage. It also helps keep your blood pressure down and your heart beating regularly.

The people who live on the island of Kohama, Japan have the longest life expectancy in the world and the lowest rate of heart disease. They also have very high levels of ALA in their blood. Coincidence? Scientists think not.

* DIABETES - If diabetes runs in your family, and you eat a typical modern-day diet, your chances of getting this blood sugar disorder are high.

But who says you have to? Researchers are finding that diet is as closely linked to diabetes as family history. It seems the more omega-6 fats you eat, the more likely you are to be overweight. You’re also more likely to become resistant to insulin - a double whammy that sets you up for diabetes.

Omega-3 fats don’t treat you so cruelly. In fact, they help you. When laboratory animals were fed a high omega-6 diet, no one was surprised when they got fat. But animals fed the same amount and calories of omega-3 fats weighed an amazing 33 percent less. That’s the difference between a 150 and 225 pound person.

Besides keeping you thin, this friendly oil also helps your blood sugar. When a group of people with insulin resistance were switched to omega-3 fats instead of omega-6, they got better. They had lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and less harmful fat floating in their blood.

* CALMS A TROUBLED MIND - Until about 100 years ago, many poor people got a disease called pellagra, which is Italian for “rough skin.” Besides dry, rough skin, they had ringing in their ears, exhaustion, and mental problems. It took a long time to doctors to figure out that these people were missing vitamin B in their diets. When the vitamin was finally added to staple foods like brown rice, the disease became history.

Pellagra may have returned in - of all places - wealthy countries where people eat highly processed foods. Sure, there’s plenty of vitamin B in foods now, but your body also needs a certain amount of omega-3 acids to use vitamin B. So you could be well fed but malnourished. Some doctors think the high rates of mental illness wherever you find modern diets is proof of the connection.

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