The TRUTH About Oxalate (Is Kale Bad After All?)

truth about oxalate
Article by ross

Eating lots of green foods is GREAT for our health, right? Well not if you listen to the recent news about the danger of oxalate in our diet…

But is it true? Are high-oxalate foods dangerous? Should we be avoiding them and cutting them out of our diet?

Should kale, spinach, beets, celery, bell pepper be cut?

In this video I share the research-based, evidence-based TRUTH about whether oxalates should be avoided…or whether this scary message is just untrue…

Let’s face it, the LAST THING we need is MORE confusion, more conflicting advice and more back and forth over what we REALLY should be eating.

In this video I cut through the confusion and give you the straight answer: should we be eating or avoiding high-oxalate foods?

Enjoy the video, and any questions – ask them below (you can also find the full transcript below too!)

Ross

References

Curhan GC, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Spiegelman D, Stampfer MJ. Comparison of dietary calcium with supplemental calcium and other nutrients as factors affecting the risk for kidney stones in women. Ann Intern Med. 1997 Apr 1;126(7) (link)

Ferraro PM, Taylor EN, Gambaro G, Curhan GC. Soda and other beverages and the risk of kidney stones. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013 Aug;8(8):1389-95. (link)

Harlow BL, Abenhaim HA, Vitonis AF, Harnack L. Influence of dietary oxalates on the risk of adult-onset vulvodynia. J Reprod Med. 2008 Mar;53(3):171-8. (link)

Noori N et al; Urinary Lithogenic Risk Profile in Recurrent Stone Formers With Hyperoxaluria: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)-Style and Low-Oxalate Diets; American Journal of Kidney Diseases; Volume 63, Issue 3, March 2014, Pages 456-463 (link)

Thomas EN, von Unruh GE, Hesse A. Influence of a low- and a high-oxalate vegetarian diet on intestinal oxalate absorption and urinary excretion. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;62(9) (link)

Taylor EN, Fung TT, Curhan GC. DASH-style diet associates with reduced risk for kidney stones. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Oct;20(10):2253-9 (link)

Weaver CM. Calcium Bioavailability from High Oxalate Vegetables: Chinese Vegetables, Sweet Potatoes and Rhubarb; Journal of Food Science; Volume 62, Issue 3 May 1997 Pages 524–525; (link)

Zimmermann DJ, Hesse A, von Unruh GE. Influence of a high-oxalate diet on intestinal oxalate absorption. World J Urol. 2005 Nov;23(5):324-9.(link)

Transcript

The TRUTH About Oxalate (Is Kale Bad After All?)

It’s heartbreaking when we do what we believe are ALL the right things for our health and then one day we find out that all of those things we thought were so good are actually making things worse.

And one that’s causing a LOT of confusion is the recently popular debate around oxalate. All of a sudden – over the past couple of years it seems like there are so many messages out there saying – don’t eat kale, don’t eat so many greens – worry about the oxalate content!

If you’re anything like me – and I suspect you are if you’re watching this video – you tend to think that leafy green foods are awesome, you include them in your juices and smoothies and you believe them to be doing a ton of good for your body and your energy.

So this message is confusing, conflicting and frustrating. If there is anything we need LESS of when it comes to our health – it’s confusion or more conflicting advice.

And so today I want to clear everything up for you – remove this confusion and give you the truth about the issue with oxalate.
I want you to be able to move forward with confidence and know that what you’re doing for your body is AWESOME and not doing more harm than good.

Hey, I’m Ross Bridgeford – the creator of the Alkaline Reset Cleanse and the founder of Liveenergized.com and in this video I’m going to end this debate on kale and bell pepper. Kale – the seemingly champion of the oxalate-containing foods, and bell pepper – the hero of the nightshades.

I’m going to answer the question mark that has come up in the past year or two as to whether we should be worried about foods containing oxalate – and whether this is damaging and deleterious to your kidneys and thyroid.

It’s so important that when you’re putting huge effort in with your health that you feel confident in the choices you’re making.

So as a background and before we dig into WHY there is the debate over these oxalate-containing foods, and uncovering what the truth is – let’s have a quick look at what those high-oxalate foods are that it’s suddenly become popular to try and denounce.

So real quick – here’s a list of the common oxalate-containing foods that we’d often eat in a healthy, alkaline-based diet: you can see some real staples of mine there – kale, spinach, beetroot – most leafy greens you can see on there plus a bunch of stuff we’d never eat on an alkaline-based diet anyway…

oxalate foods

A lot of these foods are all pretty abundant in my diet. And in my Alkaline Reset Cleanse we juice and smoothie and soup them daily and feel AMAZING. But we keep being told they’re BAD for us? What’s going on?

And WHAT IS OXALATE?

OK, so oxalate is a small molecule found in plants – particularly those I listed before. If you love the science of it – oxalate is made of two carbons and four oxygen with a charge of -2, making it attracted to other molecules with a charge of +2; especially calcium and to a lesser extent magnesium.

So we ingest it through certain plant foods, but importantly – our body also makes a LOT oxalate as an end product of metabolism – and especially metabolizing fructose (and more on that in a minute).

However, our bodies do not USE oxalate in any way, nor degrade it, and it has be eliminated through the urine or feces.

And this is important too – even if oxalate intake is zero – if you completely 100% eliminate every oxalate-containing food on Earth – oxalate will be present in your body and need to be excreted in the urine as a result of normal metabolism.

In other words – you can still have oxalate issues even if you ate NO oxalate containing foods.

So before we get too far into the debate – that’s important to know – your body will have oxalate in it no matter what you eat. Your BODY HAS TO BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH THE OXALATE. It has to be able to manage it. Remember that part.

I talk a lot about balances in the body and this is another – your body has to have the carefully balanced mechanisms to be able to deal with and eliminate oxalate.

So What Are the Problems with Oxalate?

The theory that we’re being told is that because these foods – kale, spinach and so on are higher in oxalate than other foods that they can cause a number of issues in the body.

These issues are most often discussed as kidney stone formation and thyroid function.

Anyone with thyroid issues has now been rightly freaking out for the past few years – thinking they’ve been told to eat loads of veggies and especially leafy greens, but now all of a sudden those leafy greens could be making it WORSE?

The theory is that if we consume oxalate containing foods then our body will be overrun with oxalate that is too much to handle and it can cause issues such as oxalate crystal build up in the thyroid, causing imbalance there – or the other most common highlighted oxalate issue – kidney stone formation.

Aside from this there is hyper-oxa-luria – which has both primary and enteric versions. The primary hyper-oxa-luria is a genetic condition that affects around 1 in 1 million. That is very irrelevant to kale intake.

The other – enteric is a result of digestive disorders such as leaky gut and Crohn’s – in which case, again, the consumption of leafy greens is absolutely not the issue here – the issue is with consumption of inflammatory foods such as sugar, gluten, processed foods and so on that has causes the autoimmune and inflammatory condition – and this condition is preventing the proper expelling of oxalate. If you have one of these condition you really NEED to be consuming MORE leafy greens to recover and heal the autoimmune condition – not restricting them!

The bottom line here is that the conditions that lead to the body being unable to excrete oxalate ARE NOT CAUSED BY YOU EATING OXALATE. They are imbalances elsewhere in the body – caused by a standard western diet of sugar, gluten, processed foods, little to no greens, low levels of vegetables, too much junk food, not enough water, too much caffeine and alcohol – i.e an acidic, inflammatory diet – and the sickness, disease and imbalance that THIS type of lifestyle creates leads to the body’s inability to deal with the oxalate and do it’s job.

These inflammatory conditions, autoimmune conditions, endocrine conditions – even if you ate ZERO oxalate, your body would still not be able to deal with the oxalate created through your normal body functioning. Especially given that the metabolism of these acidic foods creates way more oxalate than the metabolism of healthier, sugar-free, chemical-free, additive-free foods.

We have to address the root cause.

Just cutting out oxalate isn’t addressing this cause, it’s treating the symptom.

It’s similar to taking a drug to treat the symptoms instead of addressing what’s causing the problem.

You’re only slightly masking the symptom – and getting nowhere near fixing the problem.

I want you to have the truth and I want to clear the confusion.

I also want you to know that everything I do, everything I publish, everything I coach to my clients, the members of the Alkaline Base Camp, the people who go through my Alkaline Reset Cleanse – everything is evidence-based, tried and tested on myself and my thankfully willing family, but most importantly, rooted in scientific study and data.

And that’s what makes this debate so interesting – because while there is a HUGE amount of so-called experts telling us that all of a sudden kale is bad for us, beets are bad for us. There are actually massive holes in that theory, and little to no scientific data or research to back it up.

And as EVER – conventional medicine and nutrition advice focuses on that short term symptom masking (i.e the pharmaceutical industry) rather than really getting to the issue.

I am absolutely keen for debate and for having my opinion changed by actual evidence and data, but until then – please do not stop eating these oxalate-containing foods.

When it comes to the research – there seems to be some compelling evidence to show that the amount of oxalate CONSUMED doesn’t have a significant impact on the likelihood of you experiencing oxalate-based conditions.

By FAR the biggest precursor to oxalate-based conditions is having a pre-existing digestive disorder or autoimmune condition: Crohn’s, IBS, leaky gut and so on OR a genetic condition such as cystic fibrosis or hyper-oxa-luria.

There is no research with controlled, large groups able to show that a high-oxalate diet is any more of a risk than a low-oxalate diet for kidney stones or thyroid issues. In fact, the biggest determinants from the research appear to be:

1) fat malabsorption – people with inflammatory digestive conditions such as Crohn’s and leaky gut are at greater risk of fat malabsorption, and is often caused in the system by high gluten consumption. The body’s inability to absorb fat dramatically impacts it’s ability to excrete oxalate.

2) fructose consumption – metabolism of fructose produces a lot more oxalate than eating oxalate-rich foods – and in the US consumption of fructose – not really from fruit, but more from fruit juices, soda, and the myriad of foods sweetened with HFCS, consumption of regular sugar (which is 40% sugar – as is honey, maple syrup, brown sugar etc) – this massive over consumption of fructose is likely the biggest contributor to oxalate issues

3) Poor diet i.e. low magnesium and calcium consumption – in several of the studies, researchers saw big kinks in their data due to magnesium and calcium spikes in the controlled diets of participants. In a 2008 study – researchers gave participants a low-oxalate omnivore diet, a low-oxalate vegetarian diet and a high oxalate vegetarian diet – and the results after the study completed showed a lower oxalate impact in the high oxalate vegetarian diet than the low-oxalate diets.

Why? Because the high oxalate diet also contained high levels of magnesium and calcium from the greens!

Similarly in a 2014 study – 57 participants were randomly assigned to either a DASH-style diet (a regular vegetarian diet high in vegetables) or a low-oxalate diet – and found that the low-oxalate diet made no difference to oxalate excretion, but the DASH diet had a huge impact.

Again – expected due to the increase in magnesium and calcium ingestion (and as an aside they did note that an increased urinary pH was associated with the decrease impact of the oxalates – interesting).

All of the research I have found has pointed to these factors.

Oxalates are an issue if you have:

1) a rare genetic condition

2) an autoimmune or inflammatory condition – especially digestive – brought on by poor diet and lifestyle and the way OUT of this is to eat a lot more greens – yes even these high-oxalate ones

3) a diet that is rich in fructose (i.e. sugar, not fruit)

The research ALSO shows that a high-oxalate diet doesn’t make things worse. The urinary excretion of oxalate is similar on a high and low oxalate diet. However, those high oxalate foods that the media is revelling in trying to demonise – spinach, kale etc. are so potent at reversing autoimmune and inflammatory digestive conditions that you would be crazy to exclude them.

The message is simple. Treat the cause, not the symptoms.

1) eliminate sugar and gluten
2) eat a diet rich in vegetables – regardless of their oxalate content – the kidneys LOVE leafy greens, the thyroid needs them
3) ensure you get adequate intake of those important alkaline minerals – magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium
4) and lots of hydration – if you have any risk or worry of kidney stones or thyroid issues dehydration is hugely detrimental.

Again – when you see hype – don’t believe it until you’ve peeled back a few layers. Look at the facts. People have LOVED writing headlines about Kale suddenly being BAD for you because it gets your attention and gets lots of traffic to their website. But there is no fact behind the hype.

There is nothing about leafy green foods that will ever be bad for you!

OK – phew I’m glad we’ve got that one out of the way! The guys on my 7-day juice challenge have all been juicing tons of greens for the past week or so and they’re FLYING! Amazing results in there – more energy, clearer skin, healed digestion, weight lost, weight GAINED (but the good kind), up early, feeling energised, it’s amazing what juicing can do…

And be on the look out! If this 7 days of simply having a JUICE every day has been so powerful – can you imagine what 7 days of doing a full alkaline cleanse – having tons of juices, soups, smoothies could do for you?

I’ve had a LOT of people asking me about doing an alkaline cleanse – the ins and outs and nuts and bolts – because it’s confusing, it’s not super easy and it’s very easy to get WRONG – making it a thousand times harder than it needs to be.

So for the first time EVER – in about a week or so I will be running a totally FREE 3-part Alkaline Cleanse Workshop for you – teaching you all about how to do the cleanse, why it works and what you need to do to make it happen.

Look out for that!

Until then,if you’re excited about the cleanse workshop and you want to do a cleanse LET ME KNOW in the comments below this video! I can’t wait to get started. Doing a cleanse is SO powerful, it’s going to be amazing to teach you all about it.

Ask Me a Question or Leave a Comment Here - I'd Love to Hear from You

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  1. Lisa Reply

    Thanks Ross for clearing up some confusing things for my Hashimotos healthy diet. I’ve been gluten free for a few years and the results have been astounding….now all this stuff about the greens I shouldn’t be eating threw me for a real loop. Also, I’ve watched and participated in your videos 1 2 &3 and . I AM READY TO JOIN YOUR ALKALINE DETOX CLEANS 2017…so excited….but I’m unable to find where I can pay to join. Help please.

    • ross Reply

      Hey Lisa – I’ll be explaining everything in my next, and last, video in this workshop – which is coming out on Wednesday. Can’t wait to have you in the group!

  2. Hilary Popo Reply

    I have had kidney stones and some was removed. Still have a piece left.
    what would be the effect of using food with more oxalate in my body

  3. Suzanne Randall Reply

    You are spot on Ross as usual. Love your teachings❣

  4. Denise Reply

    Thank you … great video. Very informative. Super excited to participate in the alkaline cleanse !!!

  5. Cody Reply

    Hey Ross,

    Thanks for your wonderful service in researching health and sharing your expertise. God bless you for teaching everyone to be healthy. My question is, can alkalizing help with treating SIBO? What are the specifics and how to do it to ensure that the SIBO does not recur (as tends to happen if one takes the regular pharmaceutical antibiotics – 50% recurrence rate)

    Thanks!

  6. Kiri Reply

    Thanks for this valuable information Ross – really love that you have both the video and the written info for a kinesthetic person such as myself. Is chlorophyl purchased from health shops a good addition/supplement for green leafy vegetables that are commercially grown (non organic greens, that is) which I believe lack good nutritional value?

  7. Patricia Reply

    Thank you Ross for once again bringing such amazing facts and debunking all these crazy headlines that are designed to keep us ignorant and sick. So excited about the upcoming cleanse workshop. I am working on getting the Hashimoto’s in remission as well as digestive issues resolved once and for all and I too have done my research and know that everything you have said is accurate and I hope the word continues to spread rapidly so others too can benefit and pass it on! Blessings to you Ross for all the amazing things you do to help us regain our health. I am so inspired by you today that I am about the make myself a beautiful leafy green smoothly to celebrate! Cheers to good health!

  8. Pia Taylor Reply

    Hi Ross,

    Just watched the video, thank you, it makes perfect sense! Thank you for doing what you do 😄
    I am very interested in the Alkaline Cleanse Workshop that you will be doing.
    Have a great day!

  9. Maria Reply

    Hey Ross,

    This is a brilliant article. I am so glad someone as smart as you have finally cleared the fluff about Oxalate. I really appreciate the depth of this article and I will be sharing it with all my readers and followers!

    Thanks so much!

  10. lisa Reply

    I have no gallbladder and you say that fat malabsorption is a risk factor. what ways can I combat this problem. it is having a huge impact on my diet as I am trying the alkaline with lots of healthy fats but still not able to tolerate them. I know digestive enzymes exist but its not low stomach acid but lack of extra bile excreted at the time it is needed that is the problem and I fear if I take them then it will inhibit my own production of stomach acid.

    • Sally Reply

      My study of food brought me to soaking, sprouting, or souring grains, nuts, legumes before consumption to eliminate phytates (anti nutrients). I’d also read that cooking greens removes oxalates. I still eat more fresh than cooked, but a person with above mentioned issues might steam greens until they can handle more raw. What do you think?

      I appreciate your CAN DO positive approach to helping us listeners improve our diets. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen because we don’t do processed food and listening to you while I wash greens, prepare veggies etc. is fun and inspiring. Thank you! Sally

    • Sally Reply

      Note to Lisa: I have read that coconut oil (NEVER hydrogenated coconut oil) is the only fat that someone without a gall bladder can handle.

  11. Tania Sinclair Reply

    Hi Rick, thanks for that info about oxalates. Kale im my juices help keep me going…so i figured the other info was incorrect and just hype…im interesting in doing a cleanse via your program…let me know how…

  12. Joren Reply

    Great video!
    I can say that through personal experience and testing that I feel fantastic after having a vegetable smoothie in the morning containing kale, spinach, and others… way better than let’s say eggs with bacon, or a grain based breakfast.
    Green vegetables make me feel healthy for sure!

  13. Nina Holman Reply

    Thank you so much for teaching and wisdom that you are sharing.

  14. Anneliese Golubic Reply

    Hello Ross, thank you so much for clearing up that controversial bit of information about oxalates.
    It was a bit of a concern to me.
    I have been following Yuri Elkaim’s Program for the last 2 years fairly well, with some occasional relapses. His program is very close to your program and I am doing well on it if followed. I do not have a juicer mainly because of the work of cleaning it daily. I am using a Vitamix for my smoothies and I think the fiber is anyway good for me.
    I am certainly interested in taking your Alkaline workshop when you are giving it. I trust you as much as Yuri Elkaim, I have a good feeling about both of you. Thank you for all your good information.

  15. Jenny Reply

    Thank you for answering this question. I have wondered about this for some time and am so happy to have some clear guidance on it. Also excited to do the cleanse.
    Thank you for what you do 🙂
    Jenny

  16. James Reply

    Oxalates? Understanding the copious sides of (for / against) is a blessing…. Mahalo

  17. Dej Jamieson Reply

    Hi Ross,
    i enjoyed your video on Oxalate in veges , I’m quite keen to do the Alkaline cleanse Work shop.
    cheers Dej

  18. Bernard Reply

    Can diabetes be reversed? And if so, can it be done without prescription mess?

  19. Bernarf Reply

    Can diabetes be reversed,? And if so, can it be done without prescription meds.

  20. Anna Reply

    Hi Ross,
    I actually emailed this exact question to you a couple of years ago, after advice given to me by a friend and I appreciated hearing your response again here in this post. Great work, so appreciate your efforts. I would like to be kept informed about the upcoming cleanse please. I am due for a reset!
    Many thanks
    Anna

  21. Claude Leonard Reply

    Once again you come to our rescue with your knowledge and research. Thank you so much for clarifying this topic.

  22. Hilary Cloete Reply

    Hi Ross
    Yes, I’m very keen for the Cleanse workshop. I bought the Reset cleanse a year ago and still haven’t tried it, a bit of nerves and a bit of feeling overwhelmed with the planning and prep (I work full days and commute, so my time at home is limited). I think the video workshop will help me with approaching it with the right frame of mind.

  23. JoAnne Reply

    Awesome Ross ! Once again you’ve shared valuable life changing information! Thank you so much! I can’t wait for the Alkaline cleanse workshop. I Love the sense of community and knowing there are others in this journey of life and vitality healthy lifestyle so we can be the best “me” we can be.
    Thank You Ros !!!
    JoAnne

  24. Alex Reply

    Hi Ross,
    I’ve been following you for a while now and have been enjoying the juices /recipes. Bit of info: I am a (usually) fit, healthy 60 yr old female (I’m a runner).
    However, I had surgery for colon cancer in June and am now undertaking chemo.
    This has really knocked me for 12 let alone 6!
    It’s making me too nauseous to even think about food let alone good healthy juices. I’ve lost weight too.
    Can you suggest anything for me to do to counter this and get me back on my road to recovery and wellbeing?
    Thanks
    Alex

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