Flaxseed: Just An Ounce A Day May Extend Your Life

By Sayer Ji

Flaxseed: Just An Ounce A Day May Extend Your Life | flax-meal | Natural Medicine Special Interests

A new study shows flaxseed positively impacts age-associated changes in inflammation, adding to an already extensive list of beneficial health effects linked to its consumption.

A new study published in Experimental Gerontology indicates that consuming about an ounce a day of flaxseed (30 grams) may profoundly benefit elderly subjects, possibly neutralizing age-associated increases in inflammation, by modulating levels of a class of fat derived biomolecules known as oxylipins.

Titled, “Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory oxylipins in older subjects are normalized by flaxseed consumption,” Canadian researchers looked at the effects that flaxseed have on oxylipins, a category of physiologically bioactive molecules produced in the body from the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (also known as eicosanoids).

Oxylipin derivatives are believed to play a critical role in chronic disease progression as well as the aging process by modulating both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory pathways in the body, making dietary sources and/or deficiencies of their substrates particularly relevant. For instance, oxylipins derived from long chain omega 3 fatty acids (e.g. resolvins, protectins) can down-regulate inflammatory processes by preventing the activation of certain immune cells (e.g. polymorphonuclear neutrophils). On the other hand, those derived from omega 6 fatty acids like linoleic acid or its derivative arachadonic acid have been linked to the promotion of inflammation.[1] Since the typical Western diet contains a ratio of omega 3 to 6 fatty acids unprecedented in its overemphasis on omega 6 fats, and since flaxseed contains a uniquely high ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 (4 times more omega 3), it is logical to assume it would contribute to bringing our dietary and therefore physiological ratios back into greater balance.

In the new study, researchers tested the hypothesis that flaxseed may positively modulate oxylipin concentrations. They also sought to determine whether or not oxylipin levels differ with age, as has been previously observed for other fats in the plasma of human subjects of differing ages.

The study design compared younger (19-28 year old) and older subjects (45-64 year old), 10 in each group. Both groups ingested a muffin containing 30 grams of milled flaxseed daily for a period of 4 weeks. This equated to 6,000 mg of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid per serving.

At baseline the older group had 13 different oxylipins showing a 2-fold or higher levels in concentrations compared to the younger group. More specifically:

“[P]ro-inflammatory oxylipins 5-hydroxdyeicosatetraenoic acid, 9,10,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid, and 9,12,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid were significantly greater in the older (1.1±0.23nM, 5.6±0.84nM, and 4.5±0.58nM, respectively) versus the younger group (0.34±0.12nM, 3.5±0.33nM, and 3.0±0.24nM, respectively) (p<0.05).

After the 4-week flaxseed intervention the number of oxylipins that were ≥2-fold higher in the older versus the younger group was reduced from 13 to 3. More specifically:

“5-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid, 9,10,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid, and 9,12,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid decreased in the older group to concentrations equivalent to the younger group after flaxseed consumption.”

The results lead the authors to conclude:

In conclusion, this is the first study to report differences in plasma oxylipin profiles based upon age and gender. …read more

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