The saddest thing that I see is an unhealthy healthy person.
Yes, that is what I meant to say.
I see them all the time. The sick healthy people.
I have wanted to write this blog for many years.
The super savvy, early-adopter, ahead of the curve superfood-eating “healthy people” are the sickest I see.
These are people who know a LOT about nutrition. They may even be pretty sceptical that I can help them, or add anything to their knowledge.
I see people suffering despite caring very much about preventative health, despite being very conscientious about their health, despite reading nutrient tables and eating nutrient-dense diets.
In fact, I see them suffer BECAUSE OF THIS.
It breaks my heart to see someone who has been smart and careful – focused on organic, good quality, nutrient-dense food, and they are suffering for it.
They feel bad.
Yet, they eat healthy food!
- Whole food
- Maybe, primarily plant-based or vegan
- Maybe, gluten-free
- Likely they have tried a paleo diet
- Maybe low carb, or keto-inspired
- Maybe they have been on a therapeutic diet, like the AIP
It doesn’t matter – isn’t one way of eating badly that has harmed them – it is eating healthy ITSELF.
Often, they try a variety of different ways of eating just trying to feel GOOD, and they DON’T.
I am not the only one to recognize this. I used to see a very famous Naturopathic doctor and he insisted it was possible to Eat Too Well. He used to see the too healthy people too. The ones eating salads and doing smoothie cleanses in winter (in Canada, this makes no sense!). He called them California diet people. They often had bad gut problems, like Candida overgrowth.
They may be running out of foods to eat, because they hear something new, from a respected, well-argued professional who tells them that there is an issue and a problem with a food, be it broccoli or bone broth, that they have been relying on.
In fact, the healthier they eat, the worse it gets!!
I know, this happened to me. I got sicker, more depressed, with thyroid problems, get issues, crazy pain…
They start running out of foods.
They have tried one diet, then another, sometimes, going from whole foods omnivore to vegetarian to vegan, to the anti-Candida diet or GAPS or Low Fodmap or Autoimmune paleo, to figure it out. Sometimes they try carnivore or keto, or green keto, and sometimes they see all the health practitioners, one after another, but then, still desperate, they come to me.
Like me, the healthy people have tried eliminating more things to figure it out, they may have tried AIP, or other elimination diets, and nothing has worked.
And now i will try to help them, and I will commissarate because it happened to me too.
Now, I feel for ALL my clients who are feeling bad, whether it be after eating a decent diet, or after eating SAD standard American diet … but it is WAY WORSE for the “healthy” people.
It’s worse because they TRIED SO HARD.
It’s worse because they SACRIFICED.
A lot of convincing is required for those who come to me after learning everything about health, but still with complicated health issues.
My not-so-healthy clients with some pounds to lose come to me to learn to eat more healthy and they know they have a lot to learn, and they trust me. They change a few things and feel better, look better, and are happier.
People who eat TOO BADLY are ready to learn how to eat pretty good.
They don’t need to be convinced too hard to add an extra serving of veggies and an extra glass of water every day and to cut out the cola – they already know they should, they just need a nudge and some assistance!
They feel way better really quickly, so I love my unhealthy clients – they respond right away – how motivating!
The healthy people not so much.
They need convincing to give up the healthy foods. I mean, they KNOW what they are doing. This food is maybe even from a professionally made nutritionist designed MEAL PLAN.
I need to explain that it is possible to eat TOO WELL.
That is a much harder sell. These people have invested time and money and energy into learning to eat well.
Yes, they have health issues no one can explain, and that are not easy to fix. But to believe that it is from eating too well? They do not want to hear that.
They also do not want to hear what I have to tell them about the cause of their issues – it flies in the face of everything they read, know and believe in, and are proud to be doing – so hearing it is very discouraging to them!
When you do everything right; read nutrition information, cut out wheat flour because it isn’t very healthy, or grains or sugar and dairy, and eat all the nutrient-dense foods, and you still feel unwell, is feels totally UNFAIR.
And hearing that it was the healthy foods you have been eating that did it to you is even WORSE.
You have already felt the LOSS of your grandmother’s shortbread and the enjoyment you get from eating it at a family gathering and seeing how happy it makes her. In some ways YOU FEEL OLDER THAN SHE DOES.
Yeah, you felt better at first, being so healthy, but now you have moods swings, or depression or anxiety. Or odd symptoms, like loose teeth, low energy, painful joints, ligament tears, weird mental issues, pain, or gut problems, or secret problems you cannot even discuss, like stabbing pain in your vagina or urethra.
And it has all happened since you switched to a healthier diet!
Unlike you, the person coming off the SAD diet who starts to cut out some sugar and flour starts feeling better and STAYS better. In fact, their improvements are ongoing as they add more variety and whole food, and they just barely eat decently – they don’t do anywhere NEAR as much as you do for your health!
SO WHAT GIVES?
What gives is, the meal plans and bloggers and food movements are missing several crucial considerations.
One is that when we adopt paleo eating, or whole foods eating, we do so without addressing our whole lifestyle, our daily rhythms and energies, and without addressing and shifting the subtle things that are actually crucial.
We may be eating nutritious foods, but don’t always do it right.
One problem? We don’t eat and live according to natural rhythms. We do not consume plant foods according to the seasons and climate. We ignore the periods of fasting our ancestors took part in. We don’t eat animal foods in an ancestral way – eating nose to tail, with lots of ligaments, tendons, and fresh organ meats. When we eat foods like honey, seeds and nuts, we overindulge, consuming massive, unnatural quantities. And we do not always follow the steps of food preparation such as soaking and sprouting our foods, in true ancestral fashion.
True ancestral diet proponents DO warn us – but we ignore what is not convenient.
We ignore the seasons, and eat fruit year round.
We ignore what would have happened in nature, and consume massive amounts of nuts.
We try to get nutrients as they show up in the nutrient charts and superfoods list – even though those nutrients ere not eaten by our ancestors, and they come with LOADS OF ANTINUTRIENTS, some of which are TOXIC.
Exposure is a big problem.
- Those chia puddings with almond milk and stevia ignore the issue – and ARE the issue.
- So are the green smoothies full of spinach, and those bliss balls with cashews and cocoa.
- That snack of celery sticks with peanut butter is hurting you.
- The chocolate covered almonds, and seed and nut bars, and that almond flour bread.
- Those plantain pancakes.
- That sweet potato and kale thing you have on regular rotation…
All terrible for you.
Well, not in moderation, or occasionally, or in season.
But we don’t do things in moderation, now, do we?
The reason these can be bad?
Because, while we may move away from some toxins in our food and environment, we are starting to over-consume another toxin:
Oxalic acid, or oxalate.
We see calcium oxalate often. This is what kidney stones are usually made of.
Currently the mainstream medical and dietetics communities only consider oxalate in health and disease and its relation to diet in the context of the kidney.
However it causes many other issues.
Researcher Susan Owens says “Celiac disease is one of many conditions where high oxalate levels have frequently been found in patients. Some of the other conditions include bariatric surgery, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, autism and more.”
That shows that its pretty clear that oxalate is not only in issue in kidney stones, but it is the one situation where we understand the influence of oxalate the most.
When oxalate shows up as kidney stones, we then know that the person with that issue must cut back on oxalic acid in order to suffer less from the stones that are forming and ripping their tissues and causing excruciating pain.
They are told they need to cut back on the foods I list below … But the simple fact is WE ALL DO.
The fact is that oxalate is just as damaging everywhere else in the body.
It causes inflammation, now tied to EVERYTHING. And unlike some molecules, which cause an allergy in some, but are harmless in others, oxalate is always, consistently, a poison.
Yes, we have known it is a poison to our tissues for over a hundred years…it is even used as a poison!
Oxalate is just badly underestimated as a concern or contributing factor because lifestyle change has outpaced science:
- We now eat food from all over that we did not have access to before – there is no precedent for it
- Our modern lifestyle ignores the seasons – so we eat summer plants and leafy greens year round without a break
- Food with oxalate are often full of other nutrients (although that renders those nutrients non-bioavailable) and they have been labelled “healthy”
- Gut health issues have lead to worse ability to handle oxalate and to more special diets
- Special diet substitutions lead to way over-consuming oxalate
- Consumption is growing at a WAY FASTER PACE than the research on the subject
- Because it builds up and gets stored in tissues, we might not show symptoms right away
- If we suspect oxalate and lower our intake quickly, symptoms may worsen counterintuitively, confusing us
- The tests we have for it, like the Organic Acid Test (oat) can give a false negative, if the oxalate is sequestered in our tissues
What I mean about our over-consumption:
On the books, the average person consume about 100-200 milligrams per day of oxalate, and that is ok, non-toxic in most people with good gut health. We can process it.
BUT MODERN DIETS can BLOW THIS AMOUNT AWAY!!!
It is totally possible to consume 2500 milligrams per day of oxalate on an AIP diet, or a gluten free diet, or vegan or paleo or keto diet.
Not to mention, our guts are compromised by anti-biotics, anti-fungals, and herbs that make it way harder for us to deal with even the old average amount of oxalate.
Blowing up conventional nutrition wisdom
Researcher Susan Owens deserves the credit for exploring this under-appreciated area are trying to use her discoveries to help those at risk of suffering damage from oxalates to a strong degree; children with autism.
I have learned a huge amount about oxalates from Susan since 2014 when I joined the group she formed online for sharing information and experiences around trying to lower oxalates.
There are other researchers and nutrition experts like Robert Christison, Monique Attinger, Sally Norton, Julie Matthews and others that have spent a fair amount of time on the subject too, and helped me learn more.
What is oxalate?
It’s a simple tiny molecule (C2O4) with 2 carbons and 4 oxygens, that usually presents as a tiny water soluble crystal.
It’s normal in nature and can show up in plants and it can be an end product of complex metabolism. However, this little crystal can be razor sharp if you see it close up. That’s why, it is forms in a plant that might otherwise be very interesting to animals, it is a defence mechanism for the plant.
If some plants are poisonous, and some are spiky, and some taste terribly bitter, well, plants with oxalate are defending themselves too. They are possibly going to break the teeth of caterpillars or other small creatures that try to eat them!
Oxalate is so toxic, plants can wall it off in specialized idioblast cells, so that they do not harm themselves with it!
Oxalate crystals can form using any mineral compound. The small molecule of oxalate can easily bind with minerals because of a strong negative charge. The strong pull of the negative charge attracts Calcium or Iron, Zinc or Magnesium.
Too much in the body causes havoc. It builds up … slowly.
Oxalate contributes to free radical production, kills mitochondria, kills red blood cells, kills connective tissue.
It depletes nutrients, like those important minerals just mentioned, and can therefore cause problem with bones, or anemia, and can create neurological issues.
In other words …
Oxalate impact human health even if your kidneys look fine.
Oxalate forms crystals in the breast, or accumulates in the breast, and can lead to cancer.
It damages the gut, leading to myriad other issues.
Oxalate accumulates in the thyroid gland.
It can keep teeth and bones from mineralizing properly.
It can cause sharp sandy shards in the eyes.
It can cause painful crystals in the feet.
Since the mid 1800s we have known oxalate was linked to rheumatism, neurological problems and gut issues.
We have seen it is tied to celiac and to autism.
But, it is often ignored.
It is treatable and avoidable.
Oxalate when it kills or harms, is often ignored. But reducing it frees up nutrients, lets organs like connective tissue and kidneys rest and repair.
Exposure through food is the main issue; but where we go to find phytonutrients, is exactly where the oxalate hides: Superfoods
Nuts and seeds, nut butter, seed paste like tahini
Black tea, green tea, white tea
Chocolate and cocoa, cacao
Turmeric, Cumin, Cinnamon
Almond milk, almond flour
Peanut butter, powdered peanut butter, cashews
Chia seeds, chia protein powder
Sweet potato, Potato, g/f potato flour
Celery, celery juice
Beets and beet greens
HEALTHY DOESNT EQUAL OXALATE!!
Healthy things you can still enjoy and that can help you
A little less of the things above (have a few almonds daily, not a whole loaf of almond flour bread washed down with almond milk)
Sweat – sauna, infrared and other types
Get the colon working, build the microbiome up
Swap in flax for chia
Pumpkin seeds in place of almonds
Brazil nuts for cashews
Slowly introduce low oxalate veggies in place of higher oxalate veggies
- Bok Choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Lacinato Kale (the flatter AKA Dinosaur kale)
You can still continue to eat some of your favourite healthy foods like kale and sweet potato. And, yes, there are foods like wheat that can be high oxalate, that you may do better continuing to avoid.
Just be aware that balance is a good thing.
Do NOT suddenly cut all high oxalate food.
^^ That can cause terrible oxalate dumping, and horrible symptoms.
Just slow down on the spinach smoothies and almond flour bread.
If you need help, please reach out.
I am happy to help.