Flaxseed Shown To Protect Against Harmful Effects Of Radiation And Is Crucial For The Development Of The Brain And Nervous System.
Flaxseed has been shown to have many health benefits. It is rich in fibre, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, flaxseed is very low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. Its combination of healthy fat and high fibre content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance — many dieters have found that flax seed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.
Flaxseed is also rich in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese.
2 new recent studies have shown further health benefits of flaxseed.
In the first study reported by Science daily (August 9 2011) researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that it might have a new use for the 21st century: protecting healthy tissues and organs from the harmful effects of radiation.
As reported by Science Daily “In a study just published in BMC Cancer, researchers found that a diet of flaxseed given to mice not only protects lung tissues before exposure to radiation, but can also significantly reduce damage after exposure occurs.”
“There are only a handful of potential mitigators of radiation effect, and none of them is nearly ready for the clinic,” says the principal investigator Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, PhD, research associate professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division. “Our current study demonstrates that dietary flaxseed, already known for its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, works as both a mitigator and protector against radiation pneumonopathy.”
Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou and her colleagues found that the flaxseed diet conferred substantial benefits regardless of whether it was initiated before or after irradiation. Mice on flaxseed displayed improved survival rates and mitigation of radiation pneumonitis, with increased blood oxygenation levels, higher body weight, lower pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, and greatly reduced pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis.
The latter finding is especially exciting, because while radiation-induced inflammatory damage can be potentially treated with steroidal therapy (in radiotherapy patients for example), lung fibrosis is essentially untreatable.
“There’s nothing you can give to patients to prevent fibrosis,” Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou points out. “Once a lung becomes “stiff” from collagen deposition, it’s irreversible. We have discovered that flaxseed not only prevents fibrosis, but it also protects after the onset of radiation damage.”
Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou and her colleagues are focusing further research on the bioactive lignan component of flaxseed, known as SDG (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside), which is believed to confer its potent antioxidant properties. The lignan component also “regulates the transcription of antioxidant enzymes that protect and detoxify carcinogens, free radicals and other damaging agents,” she says.
Flaxseed boasts many other qualities that make it particularly attractive as a radioprotector and mitigator.
“Flaxseed is safe, it’s very cheap, it’s readily available, there’s nothing you have to synthesize,” Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou notes. “It can be given orally so it has a very convenient administration route. It can be packaged and manufactured in large quantities. Best of all, you can store it for very long periods of time.”
That makes it especially interesting to government officials looking to stockpile radioprotective substances in case of accidental or terrorist-caused radiological disasters.
Co-author Keith Cengel, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn, explains that in such cases, “a big issue is the ‘worried well’ — all the folks who probably weren’t exposed but are concerned and want to do something.” Many potential radioprotectors, however, could have risky side effects. Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou adds, “When you give something to 4 or 5 million ‘worried well,’ you have people with preexisting medical conditions. You can’t give just anything to people with heart disease, for example. But this is absolutely safe. In fact, it is known to increase cardiovascular health, a finding shown by another group of Penn investigators a few years ago. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.”
Along with other researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, the authors are conducting further pilot studies on the potential of flaxseed for mitigation of lung damage in patients awaiting lung transplants and those undergoing radiation therapy for the treatment of intra-thoracic malignancies. Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou is even conducting a pilot study for NASA on the benefits of flaxseed for astronauts on extended deep space missions. Lengthy space exploration missions require that the astronauts perform extravehicular activities (EVAs) for repairs, during which they can face exposure to high levels of solar and galactic radiation with the added risk factor of breathing 100 percent oxygen. “Hyperoxia superimposed with radiation could potentially cause some lung damage and some reason to worry for the astronauts,” she says. “We are one of a handful of teams in the US that can study radiation in addition to hyperoxia. So now we’re adding another level of complexity to the one-hit, radiation damage studies; the double-hit model is something novel, nobody has done it before.”
The researchers are already convinced enough to incorporate flaxseed into their own routine. “I actually eat it every morning,” says Dr. Cengel, noting, “The potential health benefits are significant and there is no known toxicity — it just makes good sense to me.”
The second study shows that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as flax seed and chia produce children that are much healthier and less prone to sickness.
Research has shown that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids aids the development and maintenance of the nervous system in young children (http://www.naturalnews.com/016353.html)., but a new study published in the journal Pediatrics adds to this, having found that pregnant women who supplement with Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) during their pregnancies produce children that are much healthier and less prone to sickness than those born to women who do not supplement with, or otherwise consume enough, DHA.
As Natural Health reports “Dr. Usha Ramakrishnan, associate professor at Emory University’s Hubert Department of Global Health, and her team conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial on 1,100 pregnant women and 900 infants from Mexico. Some women received 400 milligrams (mg) of DHA, while others received aplacebo, during the 18 to 22 weeks of gestation through childbirth.
After all the women eventually gave birth,children born to mothers in the DHA group experienced less overall sickness, and shorter duration of sickness. Some of the results are as follows:
- -At one month of age, babies from the DHA group were 25 percent less likely to catch a cold or have a cough with phlegm or wheezing.
- -At three months of age, babies from the DHA group experienced 14 percent less illness time than those from the placebo group.
- -And at six months, DHA babies had less fevers, nasal secretions, breathing problems, and rashes than babies from the control group.
“This is a large scale, robust study that underscores the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy,” remarked Ramakrishnan. “Our findings indicate that pregnant women taking 400 mg of DHA are more likely to deliver healthier infants.”
The form of DHA used in the study was derived from algae, which is not necessarily an ideal form. In some cases, companies are actually using genetically-modified (GM) algae to createomega-3oils. Monsanto is even working on gaining FDA approval for a GM soybean that artificially producesomega-3s, which is why it is important to know the source of your omega-3s before consuming them.
DHA, as well as the entire gamut of omega-3s that includes arachidonic acid (ARA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), can be found in natural foods like grass-fed meats, salmon, flax, and hemp. They can also be found from high-quality fish and cod liver oils,.”
A fabulous source of flaxseed and chia which is also high in omega-3 fatty acids are Nushie’s Natural Organic Flaxseed and Chia Crackers. These are delicious and being dehydrated and not cooked or processed in any way retain the natural nutrients of the seeds. The flaxseed is rolled so that it is readily digested.
Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, Sonia Tyagi, Kay-See Tan, Sarah Hagan, Ralph Pietrofesa, Floyd Dukes, Evguenia Arguiri, Daniel F Heitjan, Charalambos C Solomides, Keith A Cengel. Dietary flaxseed administered post thoracic radiation treatment improves survival and mitigates radiation-induced pneumonopathy in mice. BMC Cancer, 2011; 11 (1): 269 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2407-11-269
Science Daily 9 August