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11 Benefits of Flaxseed Oil You Never Knew

11 Benefits of Flaxseed Oil You Never Knew

I can’t say that I love flaxseed. I mean, it doesn’t really have a memorable taste! What I do love is how good it is for me and how easy it is to incorporate into my day! You can have it whole, ground, or as an oil. Add it to cereal, smoothies, salads, and more! Just don’t heat it up. Heating can destroy the health benefits of this wonderful seed.

King Charlemagne, in the 8th century, required his subjects to consume it. In fact, it was law! He believed in its health benefits that strongly. Some of those benefits include a decrease in heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s a lot of power for a little seed! But what else might it do?

It is such a tiny seed and some of its benefits come from the oil and others come from ingesting it from a ground-up state. It does have a short shelf life so if you don’t use it very much it will go rancid sooner than you’d like. Flaxseed oil contains vitamins such as B1, B2, C, E, and carotene, a form of vitamin A. The oil also contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, zinc, iron, and trace minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that promotes heart health .Flaxseed oil does not contain fiber and phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen-like compounds) like the whole seed does.

The best option is to freshly grind it yourself and add it to your foods. I use a coffee grinder just for seeds and it works perfectly! Another good option is to buy it whole or ground and store it in the freezer. Finally, you can use the whole seeds but chew your food well. You should anyway, right? Whole seeds look really nice in muffins and in salads. Seeing the seeds is a nice reminder that you’re choosing a healthy lifestyle!

And just what are those benefits? Here we go!

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1. Cancer

Two of the most important components of flaxseed that may help protect against cancer are omega-3 fatty acids and lignans. Omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed, called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), have been shown to inhibit tumor incidence and growth.

Lignans (which are phytochemicals such as phytoestrogen) may help protect against hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancers by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism. This phytoestrogen binds to the cell receptors, blocking the ability of the body’s own hormones to bind. This interferes with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

2. Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascularly, flaxseed oil is like a blood vessel lubricant. It appears to keep the white blood cells from sticking to the inner walls of the blood vessels. This, in turn, prevents plaque from being deposited thereby preventing hardening of the blood vessels. Apparently, flaxseed oil is also useful in treating an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and heart failure!

3. Diabetes

By using the whole seed, flaxseeds may improve sensitivity to glucose in glucose-intolerant people. This may be related to the antioxidant properties of the seed. In other words, it may modestly improve blood sugar.

4. Inflammation

ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans. Reducing inflammation associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may be another way flaxseed helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.

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5. Lupus

Flaxseed has also been shown to improve kidney function in people with lupus.

6. Stroke

As stated above, by reducing inflammation in the body, you reduce your chances of a stroke. However, there have also been indications that flax may bring on a stroke. You need to talk to your doctor to see if supplementing with flax is right for you.

7. Cholesterol

Again, by lubricating your blood vessels with flaxseed oil, you prevent plaque build-up and lower your risk of high cholesterol.

8. Dry eyes syndrome

According to Jack Greiner, DO, PhD, of Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, a high-fat diet is partly responsible for this syndrome. Eating a high-fat diet prevents the oil in the eye glands from moving out. They get too thick! He believes that the omega-3 fat in flaxseed oils soften the glandular secretions so they can flow.

9. Arthritis

Other chemicals as well as ALA, as stated earlier, decrease inflammation in the body. That is why flaxseed oil is useful for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory (swelling) diseases.

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10. Depression

Flaxseed oil and omega-3 contains docosahexaenoic and eicosapentanoic acids. People with significant depression suffer from low levels of these compounds. These compounds are also found in walnuts and fish.

11. Liver disease

The lignans (phytochemicals) in flaxseeds may reduce liver disease risk factors.

The Cons

The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds aren’t taken up as well by the human body as the omega-3 in fish oil, which is why greater levels of flaxseed need to be consumed to meet our omega-3 needs. Flaxseeds have very high fiber content, so it’s best to start slowly and increase the levels gradually to avoid cramping, bloating, or an excessive laxative effect.

Precautions

Interactions

If you take any medicines or other supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using flaxseed. Flaxseed may block the normal absorption of medicines. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil may also interact with drugs like blood thinners, NSAID painkillers, hormone treatments, and medicines for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Use caution when taking flaxseed or flaxseed oil with supplements like St. John’s wort and Valerian, which are often used for people with depression.

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Risks

Never eat raw or unripe flaxseed — it could be poisonous. Talk to a doctor before using flaxseed or flaxseed oil if you have diabetes, bipolar disorder, high triglycerides, bleeding disorders, or prostate cancer. Don’t use flaxseed if you have digestive problems (like Crohn’s disease, IBS, or colitis) and women with hormone-sensitive diseases (like endometriosis, PCOS, breast cancer, and uterine cancer) should not use flaxseed.

Storage Tip

Keep it in the freezer.

The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer. Freeze ground flaxseed in a plastic sealable bag. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.

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Jennifer Wasylenko

Exercise Physiologist, ACSM

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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