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NMU 119 – Flax and Weight Loss

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 119 (February 11, 2019)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Flaxseed Aids Weight Loss and Energy

Source: American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism (Dec 2018)


The daily use of ground flaxseed (a heaping tablespoon per day) has shown many impressive health benefits in human clinical trials. Ground flaxseed can help reduce high cholesterol, improve regularity reversing constipation, reverse fibrocystic breast disease, improve the health of the male prostate gland, and may help to prevent hormone-dependent cancers (breast, uterine, prostate cancers), according to experimental studies. In the December 18 issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism researchers published an impressive study showing how ground flaxseed may also help in weight loss and improving energy levels. We know that organisms that live in the digestive tract (gut bacteria or microflora) play a role in regulating weight and the way the body processes sugar (glucose tolerance). The breakdown of dietary fiber in the gut — a process called fermentation — can produce favorable changes in the digestive system, such as an increase in beneficial fatty acids, which may reduce the production of fat tissue in the body and improve immune function.

In this study, researchers studied the fermentation of flaxseed fiber within the gut of mice.

They fed the mice one of four different diets for the 12-consecutive week:

  • a standard diet that contained 4.6 percent soy-based fiber (“control”);
  • a high-fat diet that contained no fiber (“high-fat”);
  • a high-fat diet that contained 10 percent indigestible cellulose fiber (“cellulose”); and
  • a high-fat diet that contained 10 percent flaxseed fiber (“flaxseed”).

The flaxseed group was more physically active and had less weight gain than the other high-fat diet groups.  The presence of flaxseed in the diet prevented diet-induced obesity in these animals and improved their activity level and energy expenditure. The mice that received flaxseed also showed better glucose (blood sugar) control and levels of beneficial fatty acids linked to the prevention of weight gain and various diseases. When examining the intestinal contents, the research team found evidence that the bacteria present in this group were ones that could ferment the fiber found in flaxseed, which they fermented into more beneficial fatty acids and other health-promoting products. Thus, ingesting flaxseed appears to favorably alter the bacterial composition of the gut in a way that produces fermented products from flaxseed ingestion that can reduce and reverse weight gain and improve energy and activity levels. The researchers conclude the following, “Our data suggest that flaxseed fiber supplementation affects host metabolism by increasing energy expenditure and reducing obesity as well as by improving glucose tolerance”. So, here is one more reason to add a heaping tablespoon each day to your protein shake, low-fat yogurt, a bowl of cereal, low-fat muffin, etc. It may also prevent unnecessary weight gain, boost your energy level and help to reverse weight gain and obesity, as one more strategy to deploy to help you stay leaner and more energized.

I have included the research paper cited here, as well as another flaxseed review paper in the text below.


1. Tulika Arora, Olga Rudenko, Kristoffer Lihme Egerod, Anna Sofie Husted, Petia Kovatcheva-Datchary, Rozita Akrami, Mette Kristensen, Thue W. Schwartz, Fredrik Bäckhed. Microbial fermentation of flaxseed fibers modulates the transcriptome of GPR41-expressing enteroendocrine cells and protects mice against diet-induced obesityAmerican Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2018:: 10.1152/ajpendo.00391.2018


2. Benefits of Ground Flaxseed Review Paper (2015)


Eat smart, live well, look great,

Dr. Meschino

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