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Eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts

Rick Duncan02.06.18

One of the values every leader ought to consider is health.

On the Send Network Training team, we are constantly encouraging one another to take advantage of the many ways to stay healthy. It’s why we’ve ditched the Peanut M&Ms and Gummy Bears at our retreats and replaced them with walnuts, almonds, dark chocolate, and beef jerky.

Why is health such an important value? As leaders in Christ's kingdom, we want to have a growing influence for Christ for as long as we possibly can. Low energy plus cloudy minds equals diminished discipleship. High energy plus sharp minds equals greater influence.

Part of our biblical inspiration for pursuing great health comes from a verse in Deuteronomy. "Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated" (Deut. 34:7, ESV). Other versions say, "His strength had not diminished," "his vitality had not left him," and "his natural force [was not] reduced."

What might happen if our vigor was unabated, and we were able to powerfully train the next generations decade after decade after decade? We might just get a more resounding "Well done!" from Jesus.

To be sure, good health and a sound mind are gifts from God. Moses' vitality was surely God-given. And so is ours. But that doesn't mean we should be passive about pursuing good health. We can all eliminate bad health habits and add good ones to increase the likelihood of our longevity and our clarity.

So, from time to time, we will share little tips about exercise and nutrition that might help you and those you train feel better and learn better.

Today, we want you to consider ... walnuts.

You know walnuts, right? They are large wrinkled edible seeds of a deciduous tree, consisting of two halves contained within a hard shell that is enclosed in a green fruit. They even look like a brain!

Benefits

It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts. Just munching on a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts also can help ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

Fun facts

  • Walnuts are the oldest known tree food. They date back to 10,000 B.C.
  • Just a quarter cup of walnuts provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of DHA.
  • Walnuts contain several unique and powerful antioxidants that are available in only a few commonly eaten foods.
  • 99 percent of the commercial U.S. supply of walnuts and three-fourths of the world trade of walnuts come from California.

Research

A study from Harvard University recently found that eating nuts was strongly correlated with longevity. In the study of over 100,000 people, the researchers found that people who ate nuts daily had a 20 percent lower death rate, compared to people who didn’t eat nuts.

Additional research has found that people with walnuts and walnut oil in their diets have lower resting blood pressure, as well as lower blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory.

One study also found that consuming high-antioxidant foods like walnuts "can decrease the enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress that occurs in aging," "increase health span," and also "enhance cognitive and motor function in aging."

So, what can you do to add walnuts to your diet?

  1. Add crunch and protein to salads, oatmeal, yogurt with fruit, and any vegetable side dish by sprinkling on a handful of walnuts.
  2. Bring walnuts in a container with you to the office to munch on as a snack throughout the day.
  3. Use walnuts as a snack when you train others. Over time, it will improve their cognitive health and mental alertness.

Especially as trainers, the idea is for us not to just stay fit physically, but to stay fit mentally. We want to be able to keep on learning, and we want the people we train to be able to keep on learning.

Deep practice: If you could change just one thing today about your health habits, what would it be? What will you do to motivate you to make that change? Who needs to know what you've learned today? When will you share what you've learned with them?