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Image: Can flaxseeds improve your gut health and help you lose weight?

(Natural News) Nutrition experts often suggest eating more fiber for improving overall health, and one of the most popular sources of fiber is flaxseed. In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that flaxseed fiber can improve gut health and prevent obesity.

In the study, a team of researchers from Denmark and Sweden looked at the fermentability of flaxseeds and how flaxseed fiber influence gut microbiota. Flaxseeds are rich in fiber, which is important in maintaining a healthy gut microbiota as it serves as food for gut bacteria. This results in positive changes in the digestive system, such as increasing beneficial fatty acids that may decrease the production of fat tissue in the body and boosting immune function.

The research team studied four groups of mice with different diets: A standard diet containing soy-based fiber; a high-fat diet without fiber; a high-fat diet with 10 percent indigestible cellulose fiber; and a high-fat diet containing 10 percent flaxseed fiber. Then, they measured the amount of oxygen the mice used, carbon dioxide produced, food and water consumed, and energy expended. Toward the end of the experiment, they measured the glucose tolerance of the mice. After 12 weeks of the intervention period, the researchers assessed the cecal contents or the bacteria and other biological materials in the pouch that forms the beginning of the large intestine of the animals.

Results showed that the high-fat group had fewer beneficial bacteria linked to improved metabolic health; lower levels of beneficial fatty acids; and more bacteria associated with obesity compared to the other mice groups. The levels of bacteria in both the cellulose and flaxseed groups were at healthier levels than the high-fat group.

The research team also observed that the mice that received flaxseed were more physically active and had less weight gain than the other high-fat diet groups. In addition, the flaxseed group also had better blood sugar control and levels of beneficial fatty acids that were comparable to the healthy control group. After the team examined the animals’ cecal contents, they saw evidence that the bacteria present ferment fibers from the thick, glue-like layer of the flaxseed shell. These bacteria that ferment fiber produce more beneficial fatty acids. The team concluded that supplementation with flaxseeds can improve metabolism by increasing energy expenditure, reducing weight gain, and improving glucose tolerance.

More reasons to eat flaxseeds

Because of their rich fiber content, flaxseeds are commonly consumed to improve digestive health or relieve constipation. In addition to fiber, the phytosterols and omega-3s in flaxseeds may prevent heart disease by reducing the levels of total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Moreover, the lignan and other phytoestrogen content of flaxseeds can reduce inflammation, helping to lower the risk of diseases like diabetes. All these benefits make flaxseeds a great addition to your diet. (Related: Flaxseed is one of the world’s most important medicinal foods.)

Flaxseeds are available whole or ground and as flaxseed oil at many grocery stores and health food stores. You can ground whole seeds at home using a coffee grinder or food processor. Here are some tips on how to incorporate flaxseeds into your diet:

  • Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your hot or cold breakfast cereal.
  • Add flaxseed oil to your salad dressing mix or sprinkle ground flaxseed onto your salad.
  • Mix ground flaxseed into some juice yogurt.
  • Put a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to mayonnaise or mustard when making a sandwich.
  • Use ground flaxseed for baking cookies, muffins, bread, and other baked goods, or even as an addition to meatloaf or other similar dishes.

Remember to drink plenty of water as you consume flaxseed and other sources of fiber.

For more articles about improving your digestion and gut health, read

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