Part 37 - Sally Norton, MPH on Oxalates, Plants Hurting Your Health, and Never Eating Spinach Again
Sally Norton has a degree in nutrition from Cornell University and a Masters of Public Health from the UNiversity of North Carolina. She managed a five-year, National Institute of Health-funded program at the UNC Medical School. She’s a nutrition consultant, speaker, and an all around oxalate expert.
This is a sad story with a happy ending. Sally’s life goal from age 5 was to study nutrition and help people be healthy. She followed all the traditional advice and ate a very plant-heavy vegetarian and even vegan diet only to have 30 years of health problems because of that diet.
At first all this oxalate stuff is hard to believe. It’s talked about so little and there’s not a lot of mainstream knowledge on it in the medical community. We talk some real science a little ways into the episode, so know it’s coming. Also for people who may be skeptical of how bad oxalates are you can go to the vegan site veganhealth.org/oxalate and see the comprehensive mile-long list of problems and warnings about oxalates. Yes, a vegan site warning about plant food dangers. This is not some wacky carnivore idea people.
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- Sally had a lifelong quest to be in the nutrition and wellness space
- Despite eating plant-based diets all her life and focusing on what she thought was good nutrition, she had major health problems
- Some books convinced her to vegan and soon she could barely walk up and down stairs and got pneumonia multiple times per year
- She finally figured out it was the build up of oxalated from all the plants foods she was eating
- She published a great paper “Lost Seasonality and Overconsumption of Plants: Risking Oxalate Toxicity” https://jevohealth.com/journal/vol2/iss3/4/
- How come she has all this training and she didn't know a thing about oxalates?
- We actually knew about oxalates in the 1700s and 1800s
- Populations like the Irish drank a lot of tea, ate a lot of potatoes, had greens in season, and rhubarb in the spring - all of these have high oxalate
- Spinach and whole grains have a lot of oxalate
- They did tests on rats to see calcium absorption of and we saw that spinach wasn't delivering calcium - same for iron and folate
- The nutrients also degrade quickly unless the spinach is kept very cold the entire time after harvest (which is basically impossible)
- All USDA data on nutrition in plant foods are wrong and don’t account for bioavailability
- Nutrients drop significantly in spinach after harvest, especially when not refrigerated to a very cold 4 degrees celsius
- More and more people are heading towards mostly animal foods as they learn about bioavailability and antinutrients and listen to their body
- The carnivore movement has been great to just let people know it’s ok to eat only animal foods
- World War 1 is when we started relying on fallback plant foods she thinks. We invented the idea of the victory garden
- I was out with a girl from Peru who was laughing at Americans for eating green vegetables - the mainly eat meat, fish, and starches.
- She talks about why we even think vegetables are so great in the first place
- Our natural state is now a diseased state
- Biggest current problems are toxicity and deficiency
- High oxalate foods: nuts, seeds, brassica veg, potatoes, some berries
- If doctors don’t have a remedy for it, you don’t have a disease
- Calcium is being blamed for what oxalates are doing
- Science behind oxalates
- Range of oxalate poisoning that could kill you is 3.5 grams - 30 grams
- A guy died of oxalate poisoning from sorrel soup
- Cases of people with permanent kidney damage from juice/smoothie cleanses
- Kidney disease is on the rise faster than anything in the last few decades
- There’s so many other toxins your kidney needs to deal with these days besides the oxalate
- She’s read about 3,000 studies and articles on oxalate over the last 4.5 years of research
- Oxalates travel all over the body before going through your kidney to be detoxified
- Even vegan sites warn about the enormous problem of oxalates https://veganhealth.org/oxalate/
- Whole system is skewed supporting plants foods
- Researchers aren't doctors don’t have time or aren't curious enough or can't get funding to do all this research
- She’s had major foot problems most of her life due to oxalates and it kind of ruined her career
- Susan Owens has great data on oxalate accumulation http://lowoxalate.info
- Clive Solomons and the Pain Project http://www.thevpfoundation.org/effective_treatment.htm
- Comprehensive oxalate charts http://lowoxalate.info/recipes.html
- USDA food charts don’t account for bioavailability and 10-15% of the data is just wrong
- A lot of oxalate problems are determined by how much is getting through the intestinal trac
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