Could The Lignans In Flaxseed Help Menopausal Women?
Although they are not always fun, women’s bodies go through several important changes during their lifetime. From puberty to pregnancy and breastfeeding to the time they stop menstruating, women are constantly being subjected to change.
Menopause is the age in which women stop being able to have babies. Her menstruation ceases and her body does not produce enough estrogen anymore. This can produce unwanted side effects that greatly interfere with a woman’s life. Read on to find out how supplementing with flaxseed may be just the thing to help women make the transition as easy as possible.
What Happens During Menopause?
Women are born with close to two million eggs that are stored in the ovaries, but approximately 11,000 will die monthly prior to the time a woman hits puberty. By the time a woman is 30 years old, she will have lost approximately 90 percent of her eggs. Because she will not make any more in her lifetime, there is some truth to the old saying that a woman’s biological clock is ticking! She releases one egg every month of her child bearing years. Once the eggs are gone, more cannot be made.
Menopause usually occurs in women over the age who of 40 in which the ovaries no longer release an egg every month in anticipation of getting pregnant. Despite some scary misconceptions, menopause is a natural part of a women’s life cycle!
There are three stages of natural menopause:
- Perimenopause occurs when the ovaries gradually start to make less estrogen, or the primary female sex hormone that is responsible for the development of a woman’s reproductive system. This generally occurs several years before menopause.
- Menopause is the point in which a woman stops having periods. A woman is considered to be in menopause when it has been one year since her last period. During menopause, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and make very little estrogen.
- Postmenopause occurs several years after menopause. This is the stage in which symptoms such as hot flashes are greatly reduced; however, the health related risks due to the loss of estrogen rise.
Symptoms of menopause include the following:
- Hot flashes
- Changes in sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
- Headaches and muscle aches/pain
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
- Mood swings
- Racing heartbeat
- Problems controlling bladder
Research Supports Flaxseed Lignan Benefits
Some studies have found through natural bio-identical supplementation (through things like lignans that are converted from plant oestrogen form to human oestrogen form if you like), this can help a women transition into menopause easier. According to a 2002 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, supplementing with 40 grams of flaxseed is as effective as oral estrogen for improving mild symptoms of menopause.
Another study found that supplementing with flaxseed may be better than soy in terms of supplying an ideal amount of phytoestrogens such as lignans, which have been shown to produce hormonal effects that may reduce the symptoms of menopause. The study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that supplementing with flaxseed modified urinary estrogen excretion to a greater extent than did supplanting with an equal amount of soy, meaning that flaxseed helps the body hang on to its estrogen levels better than soy.
A 2013 study published in The American Journal of Nutrition found that lignans were able to significantly reduce hot flash frequency in postmenopausal women. The study found that even women who were given a low dosage of lignans experienced a 44 percent decrease in the average number of hot flashes they experienced per week. The study also found that supplementing with lignans was safe. No changes in blood counts, blood chemistry, or kidney or liver functions were found in these subjects.
Supplementing With Flaxseed Powder
Flaxseeds offer the highest amount of lignans in commercial available food, so they are a great choice for menopausal women looking to reduce the side effects of this stage in their life. Other foods that are high in lignans include the following:
- Sesame seeds
- Whole grains
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Try sprinkling some pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds on your salad at lunch or dinner. A berry smoothie in the morning with some kale will get you an extra helping of lignans. You can also try adding some flaxseed powder to your favorite baked goods and recipes.