Flaxseeds: how they can help relieve constipation and boost mood

Experiencing low mood and constipation is common. Being bunged up can exacerbate poor mood as we tend to feel grouchy, uncomfortable, and less inclined to move our bodies.

Flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) are a great little powerhouse of a seed that might help get things moving, in addition to numerous other health benefits.

How eating flaxseeds can get things moving

Flaxseeds are rich in fibre, especially soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is a type of fibre that is not digested higher up the digestive tract and instead reaches the colon intact where it can aid friendly bacteria growth.  When in contact with water, for example in the colon, flaxseeds form a gel-like consistency, swell and form bulk, gently stimulating the bowel to get moving.  

5 ways flaxseeds can positively impact mood

Omega 3 Fat Content: Flaxseeds are a rich source of healthy omega 3 fats, which are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties and essential role in key processes in the body. Omega 3 fats help to improve neurotransmitters (such as serotonin & dopamine) signalling and dampen down inflammation. Numerous studies have highlighted the beneficial role of omega 3 fats for mood disorders.

Aid detoxification: Flaxseeds can bind to toxins in the gut, sweeping the colon of excess toxins. Excess toxin accumulation is associated with inflammation. Gut inflammation can circulate throughout the body, crossing the blood-brain barrier and cause impairment in brain function. Brain inflammation is a recognised theory of depression and mood disorders.

Helps to balance oestrogen levels: Excess circulating oestrogen (men & women) can lead to more serious health conditions. Oestrogen plays a role in neurotransmitter function and an imbalance in oestrogen is linked to mood disorders, such as depression & anxiety. Flaxseeds contain a compound that can help to reduce excess oestrogen levels and therefore when eaten regularly, can assist in rebalancing mood.

Magnesium: Flaxseeds are a good source of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium is known as a ‘natures’ tranquillizer’ because it exerts a calming effect on the body’s stress response, aiding relaxation.  It can help to reduce anxiety and improve sleep, aiding improvements in overall mood.

B vitamins: Flaxseeds are rich in B vitamins, which are essential for good mental health. They play a role in energy and are essential for effective neurotransmitter production. Low B vitamins are associated with mood disorders.

7 ways to eat flaxseed

Flaxseeds can be golden or darker brown in colour and there is little nutritional difference between them and you can buy flaxseeds ground or whole.

Purchasing whole flaxseeds and grinding in a Nutribullet or coffee grinder as you need them is recommended. This helps to keep them fresher until required and ground flaxseeds are easier for your body to access their nutrients.

Always keep flaxseeds, especially once ground, in the fridge to preserve their nutrients.

Add to smoothies: Flaxseeds are great for adding to a smoothie. This is a quick and easy way to increase intake. However, I would recommend that you drink a smoothie containing flaxseeds immediately, as they can cause the smoothie to over thicken over time.

Eat with porridge: Adding ground flaxseeds to cooked porridge adds a nutty flavour and is an easy way to add them to your diet. You can stir in or sprinkle on top.

Stir into soups: Adding flaxseeds after cooking soups is another simple way to eat flaxseeds without noticing! The omega 3 fats in flaxseeds are easily damaged by heat, so only stir in after the soup is away from the heat source.

Drink in water: A super simple and quick way to help constipation is to stir in 1 tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed into 200ml of warm water and leave to swell for ten minutes before drinking, with a squeeze of lemon if you like.

Use as an egg replacement: Did you know that flaxseeds can be used to replace eggs in baking?  To make a flax egg, mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water. Mix together, and let sit in your fridge for 15 minutes to set up and thicken. Then proceed with your baking recipe.

Add to hummus: Stir through hummus – either shop-bought or homemade – to up your intake. Why not serve with flax seed crackers? (Recipe below)

Make flaxseed crackers: Try this simple recipe on a Sunday ready for the week ahead.

A quick final note: It is important to remember to ensure adequate hydration when increasing flaxseed consumption. Aim to drink 2 litres of water every day.

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