Flax & Fecal Flora

Flax & Fecal Flora
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The trillions of good bacteria in our gut can be thought of as an additional organ—metabolizing, detoxifying, and activating many crucial components of our diet. The formation of lignans from phytonutrient precursors found predominantly in flax seeds is one such example.

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Flax has the highest content of “lignans” of all plant foods used for human consumption. The reason lignans is in quotes is because flax doesn’t actually contain lignans—just like broccoli doesn’t actually contain sulforaphane. Flax does contain lignan precursors, though, which the good bacteria in our gut turn into lignans, which we can then absorb. So, lignans are more of a team effort.

We used to think our colon was just some transit tube that absorbed excess water. Now we know it houses what could be considered an entirely separate organ inside the body: our gut flora, our trillions of good bacteria; the densest concentration of microbes found anywhere on Earth.

Exceeding the metabolic capacity of our liver by a factor of a hundred, our good bacteria detoxify some compounds, and activate others, boosting their bioavailability.

In fact, that may be why urinary tract infections have been associated with breast cancer risk. The rounds of antibiotics may be wiping out some of the good bacteria that are helping us take advantage of all the wonders of a plant-based diet.

I think most people only tend to think of our gut bacteria when there’s a problem. But having good gut flora is more than just avoiding diarrhea; it’s about maximizing our absorption of phytonutrients in our diet.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to deanfotos66 / flickr

Flax has the highest content of “lignans” of all plant foods used for human consumption. The reason lignans is in quotes is because flax doesn’t actually contain lignans—just like broccoli doesn’t actually contain sulforaphane. Flax does contain lignan precursors, though, which the good bacteria in our gut turn into lignans, which we can then absorb. So, lignans are more of a team effort.

We used to think our colon was just some transit tube that absorbed excess water. Now we know it houses what could be considered an entirely separate organ inside the body: our gut flora, our trillions of good bacteria; the densest concentration of microbes found anywhere on Earth.

Exceeding the metabolic capacity of our liver by a factor of a hundred, our good bacteria detoxify some compounds, and activate others, boosting their bioavailability.

In fact, that may be why urinary tract infections have been associated with breast cancer risk. The rounds of antibiotics may be wiping out some of the good bacteria that are helping us take advantage of all the wonders of a plant-based diet.

I think most people only tend to think of our gut bacteria when there’s a problem. But having good gut flora is more than just avoiding diarrhea; it’s about maximizing our absorption of phytonutrients in our diet.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to deanfotos66 / flickr

Nota del Doctor

Be sure to also see Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan Intake if you missed it. For another video on what our friendly flora can do, check out Gut Flora & Obesity. The sulforaphane story I refer to in this video can be found in The Best Detox.

Note that the bladder infection study I reference is open access, and can be downloaded by clicking on the link in the Sources Cited section, above.

Please also check out my associated blog posts for some more context: Breast Cancer Survival & SoyHealth Food Store Advice: Often Worthless or WorstHow to Enhance Mineral AbsorptionBoosting Gut Flora Without ProbioticsTreating an Enlarged Prostate With DietFlax Seeds for Prostate CancerFlax & Breast Cancer PreventionTreating Breast Pain with Flax Seeds; and How Probiotics Affect Mental Health.

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

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