Is Too Much Spinach Bad For You?

Disclaimer:  The following is not medical advice.  I am not a doctor.  I am not a scientist.  I have no data to back anything up.  It is simply me...relating my own recent experiences....See your doctor for advice.

Can eating too much spinach hurt you?

Remember when I broke up with sugar three years ago?  Breaking up is always hard to do.  The last three months have been a confusing time for me, and as a 'healthy foods' blogger I've been contemplating where to go with this.  So, I'm just gonna come out and say it.  Spinach and I are breaking up.  Why?

Last June I started feeling intense pain in my back and shoulder blade.  I was used to chronic back pain, but this time something was different.  Advil seemed to take the edge off, but as the week progressed things did not improve.  The pain traveled from my shoulder blade and settled on my left side...also known as "flank pain" ... a reference that always makes me feel like cattle.  I also felt like I'd been kicked in the gut.  Fun times!  But, what does this have to do with spinach?

When my flank pain didn't go away, my doctor ordered an ultrasound.  The results came back negative ... or is it positive?  Well negative for problems that is.  I did visit my osteopath who was able to alleviate the pain in the gut feeling (she shuffled a few things around), but the flank pain would continue over the summer.  Sometimes it was non-existent, sometimes chronic for days like colic, and at other times it was so sharp I could barely move rhyme or reason to it.

Fast forward to the end of September, I ended up in the ER.  After much poking and prodding, the urologist now suspects kidney stones.   Here's the thing:  No stones have been found nor have I experienced the infamous "worse than childbirth" pain (something I am twice familiar with).  But, when I told him about my morning spinach-nut smoothie ritual, he put his pen down, turned around, and sternly told me to stop immediately.  Eek!  It turns out my morning smoothie was full of high oxalate ingredients ... and high oxalates can lead to painful crystals and kidney stones.

The Low Oxalate Dilemma

Being told to eat low oxalate really sucks.

1.  Dark leafy greens, spinach, nuts, sweet potatoes, whole grains, tea and dark chocolate make up a huge part of my diet based on the "Blood Sugar Solution" by Dr. Hyman.  These are all very high oxalate foods.  I ate them everyday because I loved them and I thought they loved me.

2.  Oxalate information is ridiculously hard to come by, often outdated and frustratingly conflicting.

Edited to add:  For the best, most up-to-date information on oxalates, check out the website.  You can also ask to join the "Trying Low Oxalates" Yahoo Group which has a wealth of up-to-date information, support and tips.

3.  According to some sources stevia is very high in oxalates :(   There is a lot of discrepancy as to whether stevia is high or low in oxalates.  Perhaps this is due to the steviol glycoside composition of various brands of stevia and/or processing methods.  The "Trying Low Oxalates" Yahoo Group, did test several products including my fave SweetLeaf's SteviaClear which tested as low oxalate!

Can Green Smoothies Really Devastate Your Health?


Unlike the Healthy Home Economist, who created a lot of controversy a few years ago with her "How Greeen Smoothies Can Devastate Your Health" post, my goal is not to scare people from eating their greens.  Thankfully, there is a huge variety of greens to choose from.  But, I do want to be upfront and transparent about what's been going on.  Maybe the same thing is happening to you.

Perhaps I should have been more vigilant about rotating my smoothie greens.   I'd heard this advice before and got lazy buying my favorite baby spinach in a bin from Costco.  Then again, maybe my pains have nothing to do with oxalates.  Unfortunately, there are too many variables and not enough data for me to know anything with certainty right now.

Hopefully, the next few months will shed some light on my situation.  For now, I'm off to reinvent my morning smoothies and adjust my diet....yet AGAIN!  Hopefully it makes a difference.

What about you?  Have you become sensitive to high oxalate foods?  Please comment below :)

Bye Bye Spinach....for now.

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