Flaxseeds, also known as linseed, are becoming quite a rage in the world of health and fitness and there are reasons aplenty why you should be considering them as part of your diet too. In addition to boosting heart health, consuming flaxseeds may also cause changes in the gut microbiota, boost metabolic health as well as protect against diet-induced obesity, revealed a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Flaxseeds are enriched with dietary fibres and protein. Previous studies have shown that eating flaxseeds regularly may help improve cholesterol levels and inflammation in the colon. They are also a good source of plant-based animal protein for vegetarians who are looking to lose weight.
The study conducted on mice revealed that mice who received flaxseed supplements were more physically active and had less weight gain than those on other high-fat diet groups. They also happened to have better glucose control and levels of beneficial fatty acids.
The team studied mice assigned to four different diets for 12 weeks and concluded that flaxseeds may do wonders for digestive system.
The breakdown of dietary fibre in the gut — a process called fermentation — can produce favourable changes in the digestive system. It can increase beneficial fatty acids, which may reduce the production of adipose tissue in the body and improve immune function, explained the researchers.
“Our data suggest that flaxseed fibre supplementation affects host metabolism by increasing energy expenditure and reducing obesity as well as by improving glucose tolerance,” said Fredrik Backhed from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
The findings revealed that the high-fat group had fewer bacteria associated with improved metabolic health, lower levels of beneficial fatty acids and more of a bacterium linked to obesity as compared to the other groups. Scientists also said that bacteria levels in both the cellulose and flaxseed groups returned to healthier levels as compared to the high-fat group.
The study suggested that the bacteria present ferment fibres from the thick, glue-like layer of the flaxseed shell. The bacteria that perform fermentation then go on to produce more beneficial fatty acids.
“Future research should be directed to understand relative contribution of the different microbes and delineate underlying mechanisms for how flaxseed fibres affect host metabolism,” the researchers noted.