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 these high-alkaline foods like 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!)
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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)
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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 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…
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 – it’s 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 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 crystal build up in the thyroid, causing imbalance there – or the other most common highlighted 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 diet, 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.