Walnuts, frequent urination and incontinence
What is frequent urination?
Before I talk about walnuts, it is important to talk about frequent urination. Frequent urination is very common and primarily happens in those over 60 years old. It may appear as a small problem however it may have large impact on ones lifestyle and confidence. Incontinence is a more severe form of frequent urination.
The cause & symptoms of frequent urination
Chinese medicine considers that Kidney Qi Deficiency syndrome is associated with loss of control of the urinary bladder which is the main reason of incontinence especially from middle to old age.
Apart from frequent urination, the body can also display other symptoms of Kidney Qi Deficiency, such as:
- lack of energy
- lower back pain
- knee, ankle, heel and leg pain
- weakness or puffiness
- poor memory
- tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- insomnia or waking very early in the morning
- lowered libido, impotence
- frequent urination both in the day and the night
- clear but scanty urination
This can also occur due to long term sickness, after pregnancy or after injury to the lower back area.
Principles of treatment
Frequent urination and incontinence is a common issue seen in our clinic, when my patients come to see me, we usually check the body using traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis to find the causes of the urination problem.
The most common cause is due to the weakness and Deficiency of the Kidneys, and we will give treatment to Tonify the Kidneys to alleviate the symptoms. Treatment usually involves acupuncture or cupping or Chinese herbal medicine.
I suggest during treatment you can eat certain foods to help improve recovery or prevent this problem. Walnuts is one of the foods Chinese medicine recommends for incontinence. Also you can eat walnuts to prevent incontinence from middle age.
Health benefits of walnuts
The following health benefits represent traditional Chinese medicine knowledge of walnuts.
Tonifying Kidneys to Benefit Urination
The ancient and famous traditional Chinese medicine text Ben Cao Gang Mu records walnuts as having warming characteristics which have a sweet and mild bitter taste which tonify (strengthen) Kidney Essence, so it is suitable for symptoms of incontinence due to Kidney Deficiency.
Tonifying Lungs & Relieving Winter Cough
Walnuts are also known to help to relieve cough. It is especially useful for those who have a stronger cough in winter and on cold days. This function of walnuts is due to its ability to strengthen the Lung function. While you are undergoing treatment, I suggest that you can try spring onion, ginger and walnut porridge. Please see the recipe below.
Nourish the brain
Walnuts also help the development of the brain. As Chinese medicine considers the Kidneys to nourish the brain, eating walnuts is important in the diets of young children for brain development and in the elderly for prevention of dementia.
If you have a fever or diarrhoea it is best to eat less or avoid eating walnuts.
If you suffer from nut allergies please avoid eating walnuts.
Lastly, if you are unsure if you should eat walnuts, please ask your health practitioner.
Food as medicine (A disclaimer)
Our “food as medicine” articles share knowledge about health foods in the context of traditional Chinese medicine diet therapy and practices often dating back thousands of years. We also support this knowledge with references to published scientific research. Please keep in mind that scientific research into the health benefits of foods is still emerging and human research is limited.
Consuming a wide variety of natural foods as part of a balanced diet is most beneficial for health, however, we don’t advise using food alone to treat diseases. Please consult with your doctor or health professional about which foods are suitable for your body or health issues.
What Does The Research Say?
The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Walnuts.
2021 Annals of Medicine
The existing evidence, although with low level of confidence, suggests that walnut intake may have a beneficial effect on cognition-related outcomes, including cognitive function, mood, and stroke.
The existing evidence, although with low level of confidence, suggests that walnut intake may have a beneficial effect on cognition-related outcomes, including cognitive function, mood, and stroke. Limitations in study design and comparability render the available evidence insufficient to draw a firm conclusion regarding the effects of walnut on cognition in adults. High quality studies and standardized interventions and measurement tools are necessary to determine the role of walnut intake in cognitive health.
Walnut intake, cognitive outcomes and risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis Cahoon, D., Shertukde, S. P., Avendano, E. E., Tanprasertsuk, J., Scott, T. M., Johnson, E. J., Chung, M., & Nirmala, N. (2021). Walnut intake, cognitive outcomes and risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of medicine, 53(1), 971â€“99
These reports suggest the benefits of a walnut-enriched diet in brain disorders and in other chronic diseases, due to the additive or synergistic effects of walnut components for protection against oxidative stress and inflammation in these diseases.
Walnuts contain several components that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Animal and human studies from our and other groups suggest that supplementation with walnuts in the diet may improve cognition and reduce the risk and/or progression of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.
Furthermore, several animal and human studies have suggested that walnuts may also decrease the risk or progression of other brain disorders such as Parkinsonâ€™s disease, stroke, and depression, as well as of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Together, these reports suggest the benefits of a walnut-enriched diet in brain disorders and in other chronic diseases, due to the additive or synergistic effects of walnut components for protection against oxidative stress and inflammation in these diseases.
Beneficial Effects of Walnuts on Cognition and Brain Health Chauhan A, Chauhan V.
2018 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Incorporating walnuts into the diet improved blood lipid profile without adversely affecting body weight or blood pressure.
The present meta-analysis of controlled trials provides robust evidence for the benefits of walnut consumption on blood lipids without adversely affecting body weight or blood pressure and supports the results of epidemiologic studies showing inverse associations between walnut consumption and CVD risk. Despite walnuts being energy-dense, the consumption of walnuts does not promote weight gain and thus they can be incorporated into an overall healthy dietary pattern to enhance health benefits.
Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: an updated meta-analysis and systematic review of controlled trials Marta Guasch-FerrÃ©, Jun Li, Frank B Hu, Jordi Salas-SalvadÃ³, Deirdre K Tobias
2018 Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
Most bioactive walnut micronutrients synergize to affect multiple metabolic pathways leading to protection from chronic noncommunicable diseases.
Nuts in general and walnuts in particular are in the limelight for the association of their consumption with improved health outcomes. Walnuts have an optimal composition in bioactive nutrients and recent clinical and experimental studies have uncovered a number of beneficial effects of walnut micronutrients, working in isolation or in concert, on metabolic pathways and clinical outcomes that make this review timely and relevant.
Alpha-linolenic acid, a critical walnut component, is metabolized into bioactive oxylipins, has been shown to protect microglial cells from inflammation, and is associated with lower fatal myocardial infarction rates through a putative antiarrhythmic effect. Phytosterols relate to the cholesterol-lowering effect of nut consumption. Nonsodium minerals are associated with better cardiometabolic health. Walnut phytomelatonin has anticancer effects that are shared by the main walnut polyphenols and their metabolites, ellagitannins and urolithins, respectively.
This review highlights new evidence on the health-promoting properties of walnuts and their main micronutrient components. The conclusion is that walnuts are optimal healthful foods.
Beneficial effects of walnut consumption on human health Ros, Emilioa,b; Izquierdo-Pulido, MarÃab,c; Sala-Vila, Aleix
2014 The Journal of Nutrition
Polyphenolic compounds found in walnuts not only reduce the oxidant and inflammatory load on brain cells but also improve interneuronal signaling, increase neurogenesis, and enhance sequestration of insoluble toxic protein aggregates.
In conclusion, age-related increases in oxidative stress and inflammation, especially when coupled with metabolic and cardiovascular dysfunction, lead to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. This process of brain aging occurs even in the absence of specific neurodegenerative diseases. Although most chronic neurodegenerative diseases cannot currently be cured, preventive measures earlier in life can protect cognitive function in old age and may prevent or delay the onset of debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. Dietary interventions provide a safe and palatable means of modifying the body's internal environment and, importantly, the neuronal environment within the brain. Walnut polyphenols and tocopherols can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation; furthermore, PUFAs help maintain neuronal membrane integrity and attenuate protein aggregation involved in AD. In rodent studies, the addition of dietary walnuts, equivalent to a single serving of walnuts for humans, was sufficient to improve both motor and cognitive behavior in aged animals. In humans, the inclusion of walnuts in the diet improved cardiovascular health, which is itself a risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases and age-related cognitive decline. Taken together, this evidence suggests that the integration of walnuts into a healthy diet could be an effective means of prolonging health spans, slowing the processes of brain aging, and reducing the risk of chronic neurodegenerative disease.
Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age Poulose SM, Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B
Browse our collection of scientific research on Walnuts. It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.
2021, Jan 15
Walnut intake, cognitive outcomes and risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Annals of Medicine
This academic review highlighted the efficacy of walnuts in improving cognitive health. Daily consumptions have been found to reduce brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and further improve memory, language, perception, verbal and non-verbal reasoning.
Cahoon, D., Shertukde, S. P., Avendano, E. E., Tanprasertsuk, J., Scott, T. M., Johnson, E. J., Chung, M., & Nirmala, N. (2021). Walnut intake, cognitive outcomes and risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of medicine, 53(1), 971â€“99 Full Article
2020, Dec 16
Nut Consumption for Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review
Advances in Nutrition American Society for Nutrition
This study has highlighted that walnuts have been found to be more effective in improving memory (immediate and delayed), attention, processing speed, executive function, and visual-spatial ability.
Lauren E Theodore, Nicole J Kellow, Emily A McNeil, Evangeline O Close, Eliza G Coad, Barbara R Cardoso, Full Article
2020, Feb 20
Beneficial Effects of Walnuts on Cognition and Brain Health
This study indicated that walnuts significantly improves antioxidant defense and decreases free radicalsâ€™ levels, lipid peroxidation, and protein oxidation. Thus improving brain health by decreasing chances of brain diseases such as Parkinson's, depression and even type 2 diabetes.
Chauhan A, Chauhan V. Full Article
Beneficial effects of walnut consumption on human health
Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
This review highlights walnuts contains alpha-linolenic acid which is essential in metabolising into bioactive oxylipins. It has been shown to protect microglial cells from inflammation, and is associated with lower fatal myocardial infarction rates through a putative antiarrhythmic effect. Therefore lowering cholesterol levels, reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and improving brain functions.
Ros, Emilioa,b; Izquierdo-Pulido, MarÃab,c; Sala-Vila, Aleix Full Article
2018, Jun 21
Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: an updated meta-analysis and systematic review of controlled trials
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition American Society for Nutrition
This article highlighted the efficacy of cholesterol lowering effects in walnuts. It also indicated that walnuts are able to reduce oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, thus lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also has no significant effects on increased weight gain despite being high in lipids.
Marta Guasch-FerrÃ©, Jun Li, Frank B Hu, Jordi Salas-SalvadÃ³, Deirdre K Tobias Full Article
Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age
The Journal of Nutrition American Society for Nutrition
This article highlights the role of walnut in reducing the risk of Alzeimers disease. It contains polyphenols and tocopherols which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, it is essential in balancing metabolic effects in brain health
Poulose SM, Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B Full Article
I was advised that immersing walnuts in water overnite and drinking the walnuts water helps lower Cholesterol, any truth in that?
Dear Mac, there is some limited evidence from small studies that eating walnuts can help to lower levels of high cholesterol. However, we can’t confirm at this time whether soaking the walnuts and drinking the water will have the same effect.
Other great cholesterol lowering foods include: oats, fatty fish (salmon, sardines), almonds and extra virgin olive oil.
High cholesterol is often a sign of inflammation in the body and it is equally important to limit many unhealthy, processed foods such as cookies, crackers and cakes, and to avoid altogether foods that contain trans-fats.
You could also consult an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner to find out what is causing your high cholesterol from a Chinese medicine perspective.