Revolution Health & Wellness

Episode 87 – Flax Seed Oil is Bad

Episode 87 - Flax Seed Oil is Bad

Speaker 1: 00:01 This is Dr Chad Edwards and you’re listening to podcast number 87 of against the grain.

Speaker 1: 00:14 We are finally back after a little bit of a break. We’ve had a lot of stuff going on and we have not been able to get to the podcast as much as we would like, but I am back today with Diana. How are you today? I’m wonderful. It’s good to be back. Finally. Yes. Well we have a lot to talk about. We have a lot that we want to get out a lot that we’ve been working on and we’ve had several things that we’ve been dealing with and we’re trying to move our clinic and all kinds of things so we’ve just had a lot on our plate but we are getting back to it. So today our hot topic. What are we talking about today, Diana? Today we’re going to talk about flax seed oil and we’re going to talk about why it’s bad weight.

Speaker 1: 00:52 Flaxseed was bad. I know, but there’s so many people that take flaxseed oil thinking it’s a good thing loaded with Omega threes. People will often turn to this type of oil to get their Omega threes because they’re afraid of the fish oil, mercury contamination, different things like that. So they’ll go to flaxseed oil, but I’m anxious to hear why we should not do that today. Yeah, so let me be clear that when we talk about Omega threes and flax seed oil, we are talking about flax seed oil, not flax seeds. I think it’s completely fine and acceptable and probably even a good thing to take. Flax seeds. I am just not really in favor of flaxseed oil. Now. I will say also that I’ve had some patients that were on flaxseed oil and we measure the Omega three level. Either buy an Omega check or Omega three index it lab work in our clinic and many of those patients are doing really well and they have good levels of the Omega threes that we really want, so every now and then we will see someone that’s doing very well from that perspective.

Speaker 1: 02:00 However, there are definitely, for the most part, I recommend against taking flax seed oil. So we’ll talk a little bit about. Let’s start. About what, what Omega threes are and what’s the difference between the three different fatty acids that we’re going to talk about. So the first omega three fatty acid that we’re going to talk about is the Alpha linolenic acid or what you would see from flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and it’s the plant form of the Omega threes. The difference between it and the other two that were getting ready to mention is that a alpha linolenic acid or ala not to be confused with Alpha lipoic acid, which is completely different. This is an 18 carbon fatty acid. So what does that mean? Well, the fatty acids are named by convention. There’s a way that we named them and these fatty are series of carbons linked together and then with a bunch of hydrogens and some other chemicals like oxygen in and some other things, um, you know, as needed.

Speaker 1: 03:10 Um, so these, these hydrocarbon chains, these fatty acids are named by whether they’re saturated or unsaturated and if they’re unsaturated, are they a polyunsaturated or mono unsaturated? And what we’re talking about here are polyunsaturated fatty acids. And what that means is that they do not have the maximum number of carbon or a mum, sorry, hydrogens attached to that fatty acid chain. So you’ll end up getting what are called double bonds and these double bonds, you know, because of the structure, the biochemistry of it, the way this works, we’ll put a kink in, you know, you got these carbon linked to carbon to carbon to carbon and carbon and the als case, it’s 18 carbons long. And if it were saturated then it just kinda has this zigzag pattern that goes all the way across when it’s unsaturated, it causes a kink in the chain. So it’s not this straight tail.

Speaker 1: 04:11 And that also plays a role when it gets into trans fatty acids, which will be another podcast altogether. But, uh, the trans fatty acid, her bad, because it doesn’t put that kink in, it kind of maintains that straight structure. But the Alpha Lipoic, or I’m sorry, Alpha linolenic acid or ala is an 18 carbon omega three. So what is the Omega three s and again, that’s a polyunsaturated fatty acids. So what does Omega three [inaudible] Omega three means that there is a double bond because we talked about it being unsaturated, there’s a double bond, three carbons away from the end that end or the terminal carbon is considered the Omega carbon and so we go back three carbons and there’s a double bond in that space and it makes it an Omega three. The other fatty acids that we often talk about our Omega sixes. And does that mean that there would be six from the end?

Speaker 1: 05:02 That’s, you got it. It’s almost like you’re paying attention. It’s amazing. Uh, so, uh, so great point. And it’s going to be six from the end. And that’s one of the things that differentiates Omega threes from Omega sixes so that we got some kind of terminology out of the way. It’s, it’s best if you can pull it up and look at a picture and I may try and put that in the, in the show notes so that you can kind of get an idea what this stuff looks like. So the Alpha linolenic acid is an 18 carbon omega three fatty acid. But the other piece about this is it’s actually considered an essential fatty acid and you know, what essential means that I need it. Yes, exactly. Well, sort of, we don’t actually need the Alpha linolenic acid, but the nutritional experts say that we have to have intake of this ala or it’s considered an essential fatty acid and as opposed to EPA and Dha which are not considered essential. So even though your body doesn’t really use the ala form, it can convert from Ala into the forms that you do need. And so you can make EPA and Dha from Aala. Okay. So the, uh, the EPA and Dha are not considered essential because you can make it from something else. It’s weird, but that’s just, I didn’t make the rules. That’s just what it is. So the um, uh, any questions so far on the ela part?

Speaker 2: 06:33 Um, it is essential because I have to have that in order to make my Dha and my Aba.

Speaker 1: 06:39 Unless you eat EPA or you, unless you consume EPA and Dha directly, which, how would I do that? Where you can get that from fish oil. You can get it from supplements. You can actually, you can get it from a lot of nutritional things. In fact, grassfed beef can be very high in Omega three. I’m sorry. Yeah, Omega threes.

Speaker 2: 06:58 Now listen, you said grassfed, where we have to be careful is that a lot of our standard American meat options are fed grains, which then gives us Omega six.

Speaker 1: 07:11 Yes, exactly. And you know there’s, there’s a farm that, that we get our beef from a John’s farm. It’s called cattle tracks beef and their stuff is just amazing. There are grass raised, a grass fed throughout their life are certified organic number one, it tastes delicious and number two, they have actually tested their omega six Omega three ratio and there’s a grass fed farm right down the road from where they are and there was a fourfold difference between theirs and the one down the road. So both of them were grass fed. But, and I’ve got that post on my website. If you just go to the revolution health and Google or not Google search on, uh, on revolution health and just searched for cattle tracks beef. And it will, it will break it all down and go through like the exact amounts. I think it was in the cattle tracks version.

Speaker 1: 08:03 It had one point eight to one omega six to Omega three. Wow. Were your traditional beef is going to be more like 20 or 40 to one? Yeah, it’s a dramatic change. So you can actually get very high levels of Omega threes in good, healthy nutrition. Generally they’re going to be animal forms though. So your fish oil supplements, which we’ll talk in another podcast about how to pick a good fish oil supplements, but you’re, you’re good fish oils are going to have good EPA and Dha levels. Every now and then we’ll get one that supplemented and usually they’re doing that because they’re trying to save money. That will be supplemented with Ala. So if you see that it’s probably because they’re trying to save money, which is always worrisome for any number of other reasons. So then we have the next in the chain is the eicosapentaenoic acid or epa, epa an omega three fatty acid and it’s the 20 carbon version of similar to ala 18 carbon.

Speaker 1: 09:03 This one’s 20 carbons long and is an omega three fatty acid, and so your body has to add two carbons through a process biochemical process where it can convert ala into epa, uh, and that’s one of the ones that we need. And then the other one that we need is the 22 carbon version, which is docosahexaenoic acid or dha. So you’ve got epa and dha are the, those are the two fatty acids that you want, a, that are good for your body, that are good for inflammation, help balance a lot of things, good for brain development, good for cardiovascular health, good for lipid profiles, all kinds of things. Uh, you know, they, they helped with a ton of stuff. So I often recommend that patients take dha than I generally recommend that they take a fish oil because of what we’re getting into here. So the why does it matter, one versus the other.

Speaker 1: 09:56 And why is a alpha lipoic acid, alpha linolenic acid, uh, in my mind a, a bad thing? Well, there is a pathway in the human body called the iraqi dunnick acid pathway. And basically we will take these chemical precursors like epa, dha, arachidonic acid, that’s actually an omega six fatty acid, and when arachidonic acid goes through this pathway and there’s a number of enzymes, uh, that, uh, that are, that are present. And when this fatty acid goes through this, when the body calls on this system, you will produce a series of chemicals called prostoglandins and thromboxanes and thromboxanes, for example, make your platelets sticky and aggregate and things like that. The prostaglandins are responsible for a number of processes including inflammation, vasodilation, uh, uh, increasing blood flow in certain areas, a smooth muscle relaxation or contraction depending on what’s going on. Uh, there’s a, there’s a whole host of things that the prostaglandins do some beneficial in.

Speaker 1: 10:59 Some are, well, I would argue that they’re all at the right time, beneficial but unchecked. And when there’s an imbalance, then you can have a real problem, uh, and, uh, an increase in chronic inflammation, which is definitely a bad thing. So the arachidonic acid pathway, you’ve got omega sixes that go through this. But the interesting thing is the omega threes also go through this same pathway. The, the thing about the omega threes is as they go through this pathway, the chemicals that they produce are slightly different and they will like, instead of making thromboxane a two, which is what arachidonic acid makes, they’ll make thromboxane a three, which is less platelet sticky. The prostaglandins are less inflammatory. and so when you, the problem with this system is, it’s not a problem with the system, but when you have this unchecked imbalanced excessive intake of omega sixes as is common in the standard american diet and you don’t get enough omega threes, then you have a problem where inflammation is out of balance and you’ve got way too much inflammation on a chronic basis.

Speaker 1: 12:08 And omega threes can help balance that. And of course, inflammation is key to a lot of detrimental processes. Uh, you know, cardiovaScular disease, diabetes, I mean it’s, it plays a role in a lot of things. And so we really want good balance with this. So too much omega six is bad. Omega three’s good. and, you know, multiple studies show improvement in a number of outcomes when we have good omega three levels and crp will come down, triglycerides will often come down a lot, a lot of factors, uh, that that’s a good thing. And you want omega threes. So now we have a little better understanding. I think about the omega threes, the 18 carbon former ala, the 20 carbon form or epa and the 22 carbon form the dha. So some people, you know, some of our patients will come in and they’ll be on a, a, um, a, I keep wanting to say fish oil, a flax seed oil supplements, thinking that they’re doing a good thing.

Speaker 1: 13:09 The problem is, number one, the ala, as I alluded to earlier, has to be converted. It’s not really beneficial in the form in which it’s ingested, so that that’s the first piece and that conversion process is horrifically inefficient. And on average it’s only about five percent of that that gets converted over into epa and dha. So it was just a really inefficient process. But what I read not too long ago from Dr. Mark Houston, he’s a functional medicine. I’m a cardiologist out of nashville, he runs the hypertension institute of st louis and vanderbilt, uh, just an amazing integrative functional medicine physician working to prevent cardiology, which I think, you know, most, of course we have, you know, our tulsa clinic as a functional medicine clinic and all of our patiEnts are looking for a functional medicine aPproAch to cardio vascular disease. And so this, I think is an important part of that, um, you know, overall comprehensive approach that you’ll see in functional medicine and why so many traditional physicians aren’t really pushing this even though they will recommend that they know there’s enough data out there, it’s a good idea.

Speaker 1: 14:22 So they’ll push this. But you know, that I think there’s a difference from a, you know, one, um, you know, traditional medicine and a functional medicine practitioner in, in how much they recommend omega threes. Just my thought. But, so what Dr. Houston said was that these, the, uh, the ala will as it’s going through this conversion process, many of those precursors will actually go through the omega six pathway instead of the omega three pathway. And now the whole reason for taking omega three is trying to balance the system or at least one of the reasons is trying to balance the system and reduce inflammation. And in the case of ala, many times it will go through the omega six pathway and circumvent the whole reason you’re taking it to begin with. And again, I’ve got patients that are on it and they have good epa and dha levels, which we measure directly in our clinic.

Speaker 1: 15:18 Uh, but the, I really strongly encourage anyone that if you are wanting to take an omega three, I would recommend avoiding the, uh, the flax seed. Excuse me, the flaxseed oil. And I would lean more toward epa and dha. I think that’s a, a great way to get your conversion’s going to be much higher. of course. And you know, dollar for dollar. Unfortunately, many patients are. Well, I don’t want to say unfortunately, but the if money were no object, I think that more people would probably take a really high quality good omega three costs absolutely plays a role. There’s no question and so some people will want to save money and we’ll take a flaxseed oil instead. But ultimately if you’re just talking about taking one that pill versus this pill, then yeah, that’s cheaper, but why are you taking that pill? You’re taking it to reduce your risk, to improve your lipid profile, to improve your influence inflammation.

Speaker 1: 16:20 And I would argue that the flaxseed oil, you’re almost flushing your money away. So instead of saving a couple of dollars, you’re actually wasting a couple of dollars because you’re not getting the benefit of why you’re taking it to begin with. And in many cases, not everyone, but in many cases. So again, I recommend this is one that quality absolutely matters. I recommend a good high quality omega three. You’re looking at anywhere between two and four grams per day of epa and dha. That doesn’t mean go to the store and grab it where it says fish oil. You know, one gram or 1000 milligrams and you take three or four of those, most of the time that’s not the case. It doesn’t. What you’re looking for is three to four grams, two to or two to four grams of epa and dha. And you have to really look at that label to determine if that’s what it has.

Speaker 1: 17:11 If you can’T take fish oil, you’re worried about mercury or pcbs, which a good quality fish oil isn’t going to have those anyway. Um, you know, look for the fos ifo s certification for a fish oil, the one that we have in our clinic is I fos a recommended or I don’t know, certified as the word, but um, you know, it’s got that, uh, that high quality I fos approval. Um, but if you’re, for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to, you get the burpy taste, whatever, and you can’t do the fish oil. You would, you, my next recommendation would be a krill oil, which is the largest biomass on the planet. Very sustainable. Those kinds things. and you’re going to get good epa and dha in there. And then if you can’t do that, then my next recommendation is dha from algae, so it’s an algae form, so it’s a kind of a sort of a plant form instead of a official.

Speaker 1: 18:02 So if you’re allergic or something like that, that would be the route. So possibly for say a vegetarian, yes, that would be the option versus the flaxseed oil. Exactly. Okay. that dha from algae would be my recommendation for someone that does not want an animal source. Okay. So any questions on that? does that make more sense? Yeah, my head’s kind of spinning, but from what I’ve gathered, I want more omega threes. I want a great source for that. I want epa and dha. My conversion rate for ala is going to be really low and I want more omega threes and omega six is. You got it. Okay guys, thanks so much for listening. We look forward to seeing you guys soon in the clinic. Don’t forget to listen to our other podcast. Go to itunes and like the against the grain podcast. Don’t hesitate to send us feedback, recommendations or questions or suggestions, and we look forward to hearing from you.