Joanne SmithMany people may be surprised to learn that nuts are the hard-shelled fruit of plants. There are 53 different types of nuts in the world, and every kind has a multitude of health benefits. I won’t describe and go into the details of each one in this column, but I want to discuss three that are extremely beneficial for people with neurological conditions and/or mobility impairments.

Walnuts are a healthy source of protein, Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Eating these brain-shaped nuts is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (people with mobility impairments/reduced activity levels are at increased risk of developing this disease) and improved brain health (in some studies, spinal cord injury has been associated with reduced brain function). If this weren’t enough to get you snacking on these earthy-tasting gems, then maybe this next fact will: Research recently published in The Journal of Nutritional  Biochemistry reveals that walnuts also contribute to better gut health. Specifically, eating walnuts can significantly increase the number and function of beneficial bacteria, like Lactobacillus, in the gut. In turn these bacteria help support the immune system, aid overall digestion and help improve bowel function/bowel management routines (many people with neurological conditions experience compromised immune function, as well as chronic digestive and/or bowel dysfunction).