How linseed helps constipation

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Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction)
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20 August 2015

Constipation and linseed

Symptoms of constipation affect an estimated 25% of the population, so finding a solution to this common problem is a must – and we might just have the answer… linseed.

Linseed is one of the oldest fibre crops in the world and aside from being recognised as an excellent remedy for constipation it is renowned for its extensive health benefits too! In fact, in the 8th century, one king made it law that his subjects regularly ate linseed in order to keep them healthy.

What is the difference between flaxseed and linseed?

There is much confusion between flaxseed and linseed, as the terms are most frequently used interchangeably. Flaxseed and linseed are two different plants which are extremely closely related. Flaxseed is the taller plant of the two and produces much smaller seeds, which provide less oil than those of the linseed plant. It is for this reason that linseed is most often used in commercial production.

The nutritional value of linseed and flaxseed is the same, and it is because of their similarities that the terms are so commonly alternated. However, if you do buy flaxseed, it is most likely to actually be linseed you have purchased.

How does linseed help the bowel?

Though maintaining a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly is important for long-term improvements of your bowel movements, sometimes a kick-start is needed to get your bowel into action. Laxatives are normally the answer to this, though conventional laxatives can drain your body of essential nutrients if used long-term. For this reason, it can be sensible to make dietary improvements prior to trying laxatives.

There are two main types of laxatives, those that stimulate the digestive system, such as senna or frangula, which cause the muscles in the bowel to contract, and those which add bulk to the stool making them softer and easier to pass. Linseed is the latter type of laxative when taken alongside an increased fluid intake.

What other health benefits does linseed have?

Though relieving constipation is one of the most well-known functions of linseed, it has several other important benefits. Ground linseed is a good source of omega-3, an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce itself and must be consumed through the diet.

We often associate antioxidants with fruit and vegetables, but actually linseed is a great source of these too. Antioxidants protect the heart and cardiovascular system, and more recently have been found to help decrease resistance to insulin, protecting against diabetes.

How to eat linseed

Many people, excited by the variety of health benefits of linseed, rush to buy them, then get home and wonder what to do with them. Linseed has a pleasant nutty flavour that can easily be incorporated into many dishes! 

Firstly, they can be sprinkled over foods, either in their whole or ground form, which can help give added texture and taste to dishes. Nice options to try out include:

Next, these versatile little seeds can be mixed through a whole variety of dishes so that you’ll barely even notice they are there! (Yet you will still reap the benefits of course), why not try them in:

Top tip: Soaking linseed is a good option if being used to help improve bowel function. Linseed can absorb up to ten times its volume in water, meaning that if you soak them before eating them they will quickly soften your stool, making it easier to pass. Try soaking linseeds overnight before then using them.

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Did you know?

Constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints. An estimated 25% of people in the developed world suffer from it. Inactivity a common cause, so it’s time to get moving more!

Constipation? Try exercising!

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