Naturopathic doctor Sherrill Sellman is an ardent advocate for women's health. Besides having a successful Tulsa, Okla.-based clinical practice specializing in female health issues, this respected educator, journalist, and international lecturer is the best-selling author of Hormone Heresy, and What Women MUST Know to Protect Their Daughters from Breast Cancer. In her latest book, The Return of the Ancient Seed, Sellman explains how we can make up for deficiencies in the typical American diet by supplementing with natural whole foods, such as the rediscovered superfood Salba.
In Return of the Ancient Seed, you discuss the health benefits of Salba. Please explain how this seed benefits women's health.
Salba is a grayish-white seed new to the U.S., but it's been around a long time. There are many reasons why I consider it a super nutritional star for women's hormonal health. It has the highest known whole-food source of omega-3 fatty acids found anywhere in nature. It contains a perfect 1:4 ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. That ideal ratio is required for optimal health and hormones: regulating heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, immune support, and reduction of inflammation. Inflammation is now understood to play a major role in chronic illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Inflammation is also a factor in many women's hormonal issues, such as endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, PMS, fibroids, and fibrocystic breasts. Studies have shown that eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids reduces your risk of breast cancer. Salba also has the highest fiber content of any food; insoluble fiber is important for hormone balance. It helps to decrease estrogen overload by binding to the extra estrogen in the digestive tract. This extra estrogen is later eliminated from the body through the feces.
What's the most important thing we should know about preventing breast cancer?
I think the most important thing to realize is that there are definite strategies, behaviors, nutritional support, and lifestyle changes that can profoundly reduce the risk of cancer. The more women take responsibility for their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, the more they will experience greater health. There is no one thing that we can do to prevent breast cancer; it takes a paradigm shift away from toxic foods, toxic chemicals, toxic thoughts, and toxic emotions—all of which have been recognized as factors that increase one's risk of chronic illnesses, such as breast cancer. Having said that, it is also important to realize that birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy radically alter our hormone levels and our entire physiology in general, and will certainly tip the scale toward an increased risk of breast cancer.
What vitamins and minerals are most women lacking?
In general, women are really deficient in minerals. Most women need to supplement with magnesium, selenium, chromium, and iodine. Our endocrine glands need these minerals. In the vitamin department, women (and men) are generally very deficient in vitamin D. This vitamin, which is really a hormone, is critical for immune support, cancer prevention, preventing depression, and even preventing Alzheimer's.