Doctor's Note

I bet one of the reasons the medical community was so dismissive is because of its preponderance in women. Did you see my video about how the profession used to treat menopause? Ghastly: Plant-Based Bioidentical Hormones.

For more on eating your way towards healthier skin, see:

For more on flax, see the last three videos Flaxseed vs. Prostate Cancer, Was It the Flaxseed, Fat Restriction, or Both?, and Flaxseed vs. Diabetes. Sick of flax videos already? No problem! Stay tuned for the next video Fiber vs. Breast Cancer.

For some context, please also check out my associated blog posts: Treating Sensitive Skin From the Inside OutFlax and Breast Cancer Prevention , and Flax and Breast Cancer Survival 

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Plantstrongdoc

    Soon we will see flaxseed powder capsules – 50 times the price per ounce – like we have garlic capsules and ginger capsules, and the problem is that a lot of people will buy them, because they will promise better diabetic control, so you can continue your SAD, and they will promise better skin, so you dont have to quit smoking to avoid wrinkles, and the manufacturer will surely rember the lable with “These statements have not been evaluated by FDA” :-)

    • Thea

      Sadly, I think you see into the future pretty clearly.

      Can you tell me what the next lottery numbers will be? ;-)

      • Plantstrongdoc

        Argh! Doesnt work with lottery numbers, but I foresee a fine broccoli season……. ;-)

        • Sandy

          Dr. Greger,

          You may not believe this, but I had the usual sun wrinkled skin on my chest from tanning when I was a kid. I am a regular consumer of flax and Chia seeds and I was looking in the mirror several weeks ago. Lo and behold the wrinkling on my chest has gone away by 90%. At first, I thought I was halluncinating, but my husband said my skin looked amazing not only where I tanned as a kid, but on my face as well. I am so happy that a study found this to be true!

    • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

      Soon? One can already get either oil or lignan extract in pill form.

      Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

  • painter guy

    Treating the skin from the inside out—just what I’ve been thinking of lately–coming out of the winter dry skin season. I eat flax regularly, but I had to use lots of lotion to stop my skin itching. I don’t have this problem when the warmer months come around–some kind of spring (vitamin D) vigor, or something. My itchy skin had irritated my bowel and I was having more gas; precisely what I don’t need more off. Slathering lotion all over my skin dampened my irritation considerably and the gas subsided.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=580124234 Elizabeth Nedic Hawkes

    Dr Greyed, I wanted to make sure you were aware of life extending research being done at SENS where maintenance is targeted http://www.sens.org/

    • Mary

      Sorry, just trying to expand t he comment, not flag as inappropriate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

    Omega-3 derived eicosanoids competing with the arachidonic acid cascade reduce inflammation everywhere else, too.

    A topic which I hope Dr. Greger can discuss in future videos is endogenous advanced glycation reactions, which appear to be the main culprit in skin aging, through collagen cross linking (as well as arterial stiffness, vision deteriation, really the whole gamut of aging disorders). Most effects of diabetes seem to result from acceleration of glycation, and anti-diabetic pharmaceuticals are one of the most promising “gerosuppressants”.

    Dietary advanced glycation endproducts from browned meats (and sadly, also toast) accelerate the Maillard reaction in vivo by depleting our AGE receptor (PMID: 22908267), while numerous phytochemicals appear to interrupt glycation (see Odjakova et al. Plant-Derived Agents with Anti-Glycation Activity. 2012 for a review).

    Somewhat concerning is a single result that vegetarians had higher serum AGE levels (PMID: 11876491). I wonder if this might be a result of lower levels of taurine, a potent glycation inhibitor.

    • Carlos169

      Hi Darryl, Maybe email this to Dr Greger?

    • Toxins

      This conclusion could be because most vegans and vegetarians are not the healthiest bunch, and still eat processed mock meats, refined grains and other non healthy plant foods.

      AGE Amounts In Food (per serving)

      Starchy vegetables

      Corn, 20
      Sweet potato, roasted, 72
      White potato, boiled, 17
      White potato, french fries, homemade, 694
      White potato, french fries, fast food, 1,522
      White potato, roasted, 45 min, prepared with 5 mL oil, 218

      Grains/legumes/Cereals

      Bean, red kidney, raw, 116
      Bean, red kidney, canned, 191
      Bean, red kidney, cooked, 1 h, 298
      Pasta, cooked 8 min, 112
      Bran Flakes, 10
      Corn Flakes, 70
      Frosted Flakes, 128
      Oatmeal, dry, instant, 4
      Oatmeal, cooked, instant 25

      Bread

      Whole wheat, center, 16
      Whole wheat, center toasted, 25
      Whole wheat, crust, 22
      Whole wheat, crust, toasted, 36
      Pita pocket, 16

      Fruits

      Apple 13
      Apple, baked, 45
      Banana, 9
      Cantaloupe, 20
      Raisins, 36

      High Fat Plant Foods

      Almonds, roasted, 1,995
      Avocado, 473
      Cashews, roasted 2,942
      Olive, ripe 501
      Peanut butter, smooth 2,255
      Walnuts, roasted 2,366

      High Fat Animal Products

      Cream cheese, 3,265
      Mayonnaise, 9,470
      Butter, 1,324

      Beef

      Frankfurter, boiled 7 min, 6,736
      Frankfurter, broiled 5 min, 10,143
      Hamburger, fried 6 min, 2,375
      Hamburger, fast food, 4,876
      Meatball, boiled in sauce, 2,567
      Shoulder cut, broiled, 5,367
      Bacon, microwave, 1,173
      Deli ham, smoked, 2,114
      Pork chop, pan fried, 4,277

      Chicken breast, skinless cubes

      Steamed 10 min and broiled 12 min, 5,071
      Pan fried 10 min and boiled 12 min, 5,706
      Chicken breast, skinless cutlet

      Raw, 692
      Boiled 1 h, 1,011
      Broiled 15 min, 5,245
      Fried 8 min, 6,651
      Roasted, barbecue sauce, 4,291
      Roasted, breaded, 4,102
      Roasted, breaded, microwave, 1 min, 5,157

      Fish

      Salmon, raw, 502
      Salmon, smoked, 515
      Trout, raw, 705
      Trout, roasted 25 min, 1,924

      Cheese

      American, processed, 2,603
      American, processed, low fat, 1,425
      Brie, 1,679
      Cottage cheese, 1,744
      Feta 2,527
      Mozzarella, part skim, 503
      Parmesan, grated, 2,535

      http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/content/1/6/1293.full

      http://missclasses.com/mp3s/Prize%20CD%202010/Cooking/sdarticle.pdf

      • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

        Note broiled/fried tofu doesn’t come off too well in any of the AGE surveys – though soyburgers (which lack the Maillard Rxn enabling sugar of Tofu) are fine.

        While dietary Nε-carboxymethyllysine (the usual marker) does raise serum CML (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21792213), Krajcovicova-Kudlackova attributed higher AGE levels in her vegetarian cohort to their consumption of roughly twice as much fructose through fruit and honey: “It is due to higher proportion of more reactive acyclic form of fructose vs. glucose. From the ratio of prevalence of the acyclic to cyclic form of monosaccharide results the relative reactivity for AGE production, because only the acyclic forms of sugar participate in the glycation process.” (http://www.biomed.cas.cz/physiolres/2002/issue3/pdf/krajcovic.pdf). A cautionary note for sugar cravers, and perhaps we should aim for high phytochemical density and less sweetness (eg. berries) with our fruit.

        Also, it looks like endogenous production of methylglyoxal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methylglyoxal) thrown off by normal metabolism may cause more glycation than CML. We have enzymes to deal with it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactoylglutathione_lyase), the genes for which which happens to be activated by, yes, veggies. A long list of phytochemicals allium & cruciferous veggies, teas, berries, spices all activate the Nrf2 pathway (https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0028-1088302). Curiously, they do so by being “sensed” as cell stressors, which they in fact are in large doses (http://www.pnas.org/content/109/14/5423.full). You can get too much of a good thing.

  • Robin

    Good news! Glad I’ve been making sure to eat flax seed. My skin is very sensitive. By the way, after watching your videos, I decided to cut out dairy. My chin (which constantly had one or more painful pimples) cleared up right away. I’ve even gotten some compliments on my complexion. Also, your videos have really helped me “manage” (nearly eliminate) my progressing PMS. Thank you!

    • Thea

      Awesome! Congrats!!!

  • wildflower

    Having to go Gluten Free I have been using flaxseeds with my fresh fruit making drinks, I have seen a difference in redness and most of my sores from gluten are gone.

  • http://jolkapolkaskitchen.blogspot.com/ WholeFoodChomper

    It’s interesting to me how often conditions or symptoms that are mostly attributed to women are viewed as part of the so-called ” ‘princess and the pea’ phenomenon” within the medical community. I’m glad that this issue at least received some attention from the scientific medical community.

  • daisy

    how many Tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day is suggested?

  • daniel

    Is purple sweet potato more healthy than normal one (due to the purple color like red cabbage or blueberry)?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Ooh, my favorite! I’m going to be covering purple sweet potatoes in an upcoming video on nutritionfacts.org — stay tuned! (spoiler alert: YUM!) Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it: http://bit.ly/nutritionfactsupdates

  • http://www.facebook.com/shay.jensen.9 Shay Jensen

    I’m not so sure why the flax seeds need to be ground. Soaking
    flax seeds in water for 10 or 15′ creates a viscous liquid much like egg
    whites — so something is being produced that needs no grinding.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    For me that was a great episode!! My son can’t thank you enough!

  • Toby french

    Dr Gregor, can you advise me with chronic dry itchy skin, leaving skin legions and open sores? I am getting little help fom the dermatologists. Bi am eating flaxseeds and kale every day. Apply creams and olive oil to y skin twice daily and frustrated as all get out. Thank you.

  • Bass

    Many sources claim that taking cold showers is also a good thing for sensitive skin and hair, but there does not seem to be much scientific evidence for this. What do you know about this subject Dr. Greger?

  • LynnCS

    Since I stopped making smoothies, due to the damaged fiber, I forget to use the flax seed and chia seed. Hard to fit into my whole grain based food. It’s good to be reminded. I do believe that my skin got better when I was using it, so I’ll have to make a chia/flax pudding of some sort to have in the frig.

    • Toxins

      The fiber is not destroyed in smoothies, just disrupted in the sense that it not longer keeps you as full. The benefits of the fiber are retained though.

  • superape

    I didn’t know the seeds can be heated. A health food store employee told me I shouldn’t grind them in a (cheap) coffee grinder because of the heat of the grinding process, so i guess this isn’t true? (Reminds me of your video ‘Pharmacists Versus Health Food Store Employees: Who Gives Better Advice?’ :)) She also told me not to grind them up too much and that the golden flaxseeds are better. True or false? Haha!

    • Toxins

      Golden flaxseed and regular flaxseed are pretty much equivalent. There is no harm with grinding the seeds from the heat, this is a non issue. It is always better to grind flaxseeds to absorb what within the shell.

      • superape

        Thanks again Toxins. Yes, I know it’s pretty pointless to swallow the whole seed. Is it true though that they’re better bruised than ground up too much (powdery)?

  • Toni

    Dr. Gregor,
    Are sprouted flax seeds as effective as ground seeds ?
    (I hope so as they are easy to store and eat.)

    • Toxins

      Although sprouted flaxseeds may have 10 times the antioxidants, being ground does not make them unhealthy for you. Ground flaxseed is preferable to whole because the shells of the seed must be broken to absorb whats within.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/antioxidants-sprouting-up/

  • matt

    It was interesting to know that ground flax seeds can be stored at room temp for that long before it would go rancid. I guess it must be due to the antioxidants in it.One must be careful if your the older male working out and want to have all the free circulating testosterone to can get as using flax seeds can lower testosterone, I would think it is a particular lignin doing it. MD Anderson cancer center uses about 4 tablespoons of flax seeds daily to significantly lower testosterone in their patients with androgen secreting ovarian tumors. To my understanding it is not so much that we decrease production of testosterone when we get older but more that it is bound up to binding proteins that is the issue.

    • Toxins

      Storing whole or ground flaxseed for long periods of time does not make them rancid

      “Storage effects: Flaxseed, either whole or coarsely ground, appears stable to long-term storage at room temperature. Even after 308 days at 22°C (72°F) there was essentially no change in peroxide value as a measure of oxidation by-products or in the percentage of ALA in fat extracted from the stored flaxseed samples5. This demonstration of oxidative stability in common storage was later confirmed by direct measurement of oxygen consumption. One gram samples of whole flaxseed, milled flaxseed and extracted flax oil were held in individual sealed glass tubes for 280 days at room temperature with 12h alternating dark/light cycles. All three preparations showed little change in headspace oxygen during this time although the flax oil sample was more variable. The fatty acid composition of all three samples remained unchanged, suggesting that flaxseed ALA was stable to both heat and light6.

      These stability results with small samples have been corroborated by studies on l kg lots of milled flaxseed which were stored in closed packages at 23°C for 128 days. The samples were examined initially and at approximately thirty-day intervals. The packages were triple-layer paper bags with plastic liners, much like those used in the 60 lb. bags normally supplied to commercial bakers. Sensory tests by a trained panel showed no difference in the aroma intensity of water slurries of fresh and stored samples at any of the four storage intervals. Changes in chemical indices of oxidation (peroxide values, free fatty acids and volatile compounds) were negligible7. As further evidence of flaxseed’s storage stability, 36 consumers could not tell the difference between the taste of yeast breads baked with the either fresh or stored milled flaxseed included as 11% of flour weight in the recipe8.”

      6. Chen Z-Y, et al. J Am Oil Chem Soc. 1992; 71:629-632.
      7. Malcolmson LJ, et al. Proc Flax Inst. 1998; 57:75-80.
      8. Malcolmson LJ, et al. Flax Council of Canada, Internal Report, 1997, 15pp.

      • matt

        Sweet thanks!

  • John Pinto

    it’s about a month or 2 that I have a very itch back and neck, sometimes my arms. what could be the reason and any solutions.