and the oxalate controversy rages on……

We got lots of interesting email in response to my rebuttal to the wildly exaggerated and completely undocumented article posted by one “Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist” that tells people not to drink green smoothies and says they can “devastate” your health.

Heidi, a “low oxalate” blogger / site owner wrote a response. I like to look at all viewpoints and appreciate that she listed lower-oxalate greens for those who wish to concern themselves with this issue. She has eliminated some health problems by carefully reducing oxalates for 20 years. Those include turnip and mustard greens, dino kale, curly kale, romaine, cabbage, and collards.

Hopefully Heidi has been creative to keep lots of greens and raw roods in her diet while controlling for oxalates. If not, we eliminate one compound causing a problem and dozens of other compounds desperately needed and hard to find in other sources.

I disagree with Heidi that it’s a good idea to boil greens, as has been passed around the internet as a solution to the “problem.” George Mateljan surveys the literature well and concludes that this does not significantly reduce oxalates. And of course we know boiling destroys most of the food’s other best properties—enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

I do not disagree that there are a few people who are not metabolizing greens well, and I absolutely agree that improving gut health is key to reversing many conditions. Greens have many critical properties that other foods do not, and these nutritional benefits are desperately needed by virtually everyone. So I’m very reticent to embrace the idea that we eliminate an entire class of foods—or we nuke them to death—because a few people have degenerative gut issues wherein an “anti-nutrient” becomes indigestible and even harmful.

As counterpoint, if you have become alarmed, you owe it to yourself and your health to read another viewpoint. Author Victoria Boutenko, my friend and companion in green crime, has written this extremely detailed, source-rich article on all the research that oxalates are FRIEND RATHER THAN FOE. I covered the more neutral ground of referencing the macro study that concluded the evidence does not support oxalates being harmful, nor does it support that cooking greens neutralizes that compound.

We had a few comments on facebook or on the blog that someone who drinks green smoothies got kidney stones. I know people who eat some whole foods and got cancer, too. It’s a major logical fallacy to leap to the conclusion that because you eat one healthy thing, that healthy thing is causing a disease. Even if you started green smoothies two weeks before you get a kidney stone, that doesn’t mean anything. Kidney stones take a long time to build up before they release and begin to cause pain—and possibly damage. Although I cannot rule out that a nutritious food played a role in oxalates binding to calcium, I think far more likely culprits for the vast majority are long-term indulgence in soda, salty foods, and animal proteins—and low water consumption. Please read George Mateljan’s meticulous reviews of oxalate research and conclusions, and/or Victoria Boutenko’s report below.

Before you change your diet to eliminate or massively reduce the highest micronutrient foods on the planet from your diet, the foods that are the crux of the primate diet worldwide (we share more than 98% of their DNA), you ought to read this documentation suggesting that greens may actually prevent kidney stones. We already know they prevent many, many other modern health risks.

Read Victoria’s report HERE.

Victoria Boutenko’s Green Smoothie Song–and me, giving her props

When my book The Green Smoothies Diet came out, last year, I got an email saying, “Who do you think you are? Victoria Boutenko invented the green smoothie! You owe her some credit!”

In fact, I give V. Boutenko, one of my heroes, credit every single time I speak. (Back me up here, if you’ve been to my classes?) Also I give her credit in my books. I love her, own every one of her book and her kids’ book, too. I want to give her a shout-out here, as I hear she is going through a very trying time because of her divorce.

Here is a goofy, sweet YouTube video she and her daughter Valya did, where she sings a song about green smoothies. I laughed all the way through it. (Maybe since I’ve been accused of being her lackey, I’ll do a song too—but it’ll be all edgy and rap):

Victoria, please know I think you’re so cute for doing that video. Thanks for your impressive and tireless efforts to educate people about the benefits of a raw, plant-based diet.

Here’s a video I made to give you the credit you deserve. Victoras Kulvinskas and others like Ann Wigmore may have “invented” ideas decades ago that led to the green smoothie concept. But, for the record, I think you’re a pioneer, and today I want to say, thank you and God bless you through this difficult time in your life.

Skiing with green smoothies . . . and Green Smoothie Testimonials, Part 4

So I celebrated handing my book off to the publisher last Monday by goofing off a lot, skiing a few days last week. Turns out that a quart of green smoothie is an AWESOME skiing lunch. My girlfriends (with their inferior lunch) were losing energy and wanting to go home while I was still ready to keep slogging through the Utah Sundance slush late in the afternoon. (That’s the downside of spring skiing, the upside being you can ditch your jacket and gloves and just ski in a tank top–how fun is that?)

A handful of that Nantucket Trail Mix from Costco and I was SET for the day! Here are more green smoothie testimonials from my research–remember that MORE ENERGY is the #1 health benefit of GS that my study found, which corroborates Victoria Boutenko’s study. You need any of that?

I wish I started drinking green smoothies earlier in life! I cannot believe how much energy I have just from this one simple dietary change! My digestion issues vanished in one week and my skin looks amazing. I feel really healthy and cannot say enough about how much more energy I have.

–Anon.

I crave green smoothies. They satisfy my hunger. I am a teacher; therefore, I am surrounded by germs and viruses. Since I have been on green smoothies for about six months, I have not been sick. I am convinced the phytonutrients in my breakfast and lunch smoothie are what has kept me in good health.

–Chris B.

I am so in love with green smoothies! I am a 31 yr. old mother of four children. I am very into fitness/weight lifting to build muscle in my body. I started green smoothies just after I had been referred to GreenSmoothieGirl.com by my zoning lady for chronic headaches and muscle tension in my neck that would not go away. Soon after I started drinking green smoothies daily, the headaches and muscle tension left! I have not had the problem since.

I drink green smoothies for breakfast along with a whey protein shake every morning, and also for my snacks during the day, I make a full pitcher of green smoothie every 2-3 days and keep it in my fridge when I need a snack. It is quick and easy and very healthy! It keeps me on track for my ideal weight goals! I have converted many friends and family to green smoothies! I recommend them to everyone I meet! When someone asks me what I am doing to look so good, I just give them my personal green smoothie recipe and some fitness tips!

I would like to thank Robyn for this AWESOME idea and for taking the steps to get the information on her website to help others who so desperately need a nutritious lifestyle!

–LaDawn Doxey ( Syracuse , UT )

Feel better, have decreased the amount of sugar in the diet due to the smoothies. Like the increase in green veggies. Hate the taste of wheatgrass. Like this manner of getting chlorophyll better.

–Anon.

Getting off meds on a GSG diet

The BEST kind of evangelizing there is, is the EXAMPLE kind.   Just do what you do, and people will ask–no lectures or persuasion needed.   I was just writing in my book about how Victoria Boutenko used to run people down in the Safeway and tell them they needed to eat a raw-food diet.   It’s a funny image.   That is Never. Gonna. Work.

But there is no shortage of miserable, ill people, and they are looking for a prophet–anyone who knows more than they do, anyone experiencing good health, anyone willing to help.   I know that a lot of you are helping others, many of you helping LOTS of others, and I want to hear about that in the questionnaire.   Because my new book challenges readers to not stop at just changing their own health, but at influencing others you care about (who in turn influence more people, and more people, and it never ends–it becomes quantum).   It’s RADICAL.   Not like the teenagers use the word, but like the original definition.

I got a call this morning from a man who has lost 80 lbs. and bought a Total Blender on GreenSmoothieGirl.com, asking the usual questions about how much to feed the kids, how long it keeps in the fridge, etc.   He said he got an email blast from his doctor, an M.D., saying,

“Here’s a link to something that will absolutely change your life, that has the power to help you lose 100 lbs. or more, with no other lifestyle change.   DO IT.”  

And what was that “something?”   It was a link to my goofy little 3-min. home-video green smoothie demo on YouTube that has now had 50,000 hits.   Green smoothies rock.

defending that my diet’s not all raw

I read the raw foodists all the time (Patenaude, Wolfe, Boutenko, and lots more).   I think their diet is fantastic.   Sometimes I go all raw, for a few days, weeks, or even months.   I wouldn’t criticize anybody for a minute who wants to do it permanently, as some of my friends do–they all enjoy excellent health.

 

So why don’t I eat 100% raw and promote it on my site?   I thought I’d lay out my defense of NOT being all raw.

 

  1. Yes, when man discovered fire and begin to cook his food, he altered it for the worse, killing the life force in the food.  But I think we’ve adapted biologically to thousands of years of eating whole, cooked plant foods, eaten as part of a diet containing lots of raw plant food.   I think 60-80 percent is usually enough to provide outstanding disease prevention and an ideal weight.   EVERY meal and snack should contain raw plant food.   What we’re NOT adapted to is cooked, REFINED foods or a diet heavy in cooked food.    
  2. I think that grains and legumes are good food.   They’ve been used for thousands of years by most of the populations of the world.   They provide good energy in the form of both carbs and protein, and the perfect amount of fat (which is to say, not very much).   Hundreds of studies say they prevent disease.
  3. Most people can’t afford to eat 100% raw.   Boutenko said several years ago that her family of 4 spends $1350 monthly ($45/day).   Because I feed my family highly inexpensive whole foods in the form of legumes and grains, I spend $800/mo. to feed 50% more people than Boutenko does.   In summary, my program is very do-able financially.
  4. It’s very hard to feed kids, especially teenagers, an all-raw diet.   Without grains and legumes to give them higher calories and faster food to prepare, moms can really burn out and teenagers get surly and . . . downright hungry.   I have tried it.   It’s really hard (nigh unto impossible) to feed a house full of competitive athletes and teenagers all raw.  
  5. On the other hand, it’s not very hard to eat 60-80% raw, at least after completing a learning curve (my 12 Steps to Whole Foods program is the learning curve, as I experienced it, flattened out for my readers to skip all the rabbit holes I chased down that were a waste of time).   It is, however, nearly a quantum leap, I’ve found, to go from 80% to 100%.   It’s like the effort differential between getting a B+/A- in college, and getting an A.   That difference is MUCH bigger than the difference in your effort, for instance, between getting a C and a C+.   A 60-80% diet is achievable for anyone, allowing for social events not to become a stress and excellent health to be achieved.

So don’t get me wrong: I love the raw movement.   But Boutenko writes about people going 100% raw and then swinging to almost no raw, back and forth.   I never eat no raw–always, always 60-80 percent, even while traveling.   (You can get salads almost anywhere.)

And I think that’s the most important thing: to be consistent about eating well, and keep your “raw” above 60 percent every day and always as high as you can, so you are providing lots of enzymes and not taxing and aging your organs.   I also recommend having periods of eating as simply and as close to 100% raw as you can–like a “detox week.”

The Essential GreenSmoothieGirl Library . . . part 4

Two more of my favorite books, with links to  obtain them.   As you can afford to own these books, you’re building your arsenal of tools to quit or massively reduce refined foods and animal products forever:

James and Colleen Simmons’ Original Fast Foods is so pure in its intent, to help others experience the profound health improvements that the formerly very ill Jim Simmons achieved when he undertook a whole-foods, plant-based diet.   The book is  intelligently written, and it contains tons of information and lots of good recipes at the end, all of them easy.  Self published and therefore more expensive than most books, you can occasionally get used copies on Amazon, but the author sells them at www.originalfastfoods.com.

Victoria Boutenko’s Green for Life documents how Boutenko, a long-time raw foodist, felt there was a missing link in her family’s nutrition, even as good as it was.   (They eliminated many chronic diseases from their lives when they went all raw 15 years ago.)   She undertook to study the diet of primates, since humans share 99.4% of our DNA with primates.   Of course, what she found is that they eat copiously of greens, a wide variety of them.

Boutenko asks the reader to undertake an experiment: to chew a mouthful of greens, and spit it out right before swallowing.   You’ll find it is simply torn up, not creamed and ready for digestion like it needs to be.   This is because over several generations of eating increasingly more refined foods, the human body has adapted by developing ever-narrower palates.   We no longer chew food to the extent that we need to to extract nutrition from denser foods like raw green vegetables, like primates with wide palates do.   The BlendTec Total Blender does that breakdown for you, in the green smoothie: all you have to do is “chew” as you drink it, to create saliva for digestion.

Greens like kale, collards, mustard greens, arugula, turnip greens, celery, spinach, dandelion greens, beet greens, and chard don’t end up on too many salad plates.   But they’re easy in green smoothies.   And, you don’t have to drizzle them with fattening, chemical-laden salad dressings to get them down, in a smoothie.

Best of all, in addition to the superior nutrition of dark leafy greens, Boutenko points out that kale fiber, for instance, can remove many times its own weight in toxins from the body.   She undertook to study a group of 30 people ranging from the morbidly obese in wheelchairs to people who already ate a fairly healthful diet: every one of the 30 reported excellent improvements in health, some of them very dramatic.   Many said they just wished they had more than a quart a day!   The top three health benefits were better digestion/elimination, more energy, and weight loss.