I was on vacation last week, and my body is still on Florida time. I have been waking up at 5:30 every morning since I got back on Saturday. Sigh! At least this gives me time to be productive. I made an egg casserole for the family for breakfast, packed my lunch, and my daughter's lunch. All by 6:30! Not the norm at our house, but when life gives you the time, do what you can with it. (There were also some dishes that got done, and some work on my book. For those of you who do not know, I am working on a book!)
I tried to think of a good health topic to discuss in today's post, and I think I've got one.
Balancing Oxalic Acid in Your Diet - The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Okay, let's just say I'm beating a dead horse on this Oxalic Acid thing. I talk about it A LOT! In clinic and in my previous blog posts. It's important, and most of us don't really know about it. It can change how your body processes and utilizes your food, and can offer protection against our toxic world.
So, let's start!
What is Oxalic Acid?
Oxalic Acid is an organic compound found in plants; specifically in food plants like Spinach, Kale, Chard, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels, etc... In Rhubarb it is extremely high and is part of what causes it's very sour taste before cooking, and it is so high in the leaves that they are actually poisonous. It can also be produced by the bacterial breakdown of carbohydrates, and from unused Vitamin C, but that's another discussion so let's just stick to vegetables.
Why do Plants have Oxalic Acid?
There are several reasons why plants have Oxalic Acid.
What Makes Oxalic Acid Bad?
Because of it's ability to bind with minerals, Oxalic Acid will bind with essential minerals within our body preventing their absorption. Most notably Calcium, but also Iron, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium. All minerals that are essential to the health of every cell in our body. Why is this bad?
Are There Any Benefits of Oxalic Acid?
Actually, there are. Which is why it is important to balance our diets and not exclude leafy greens.
Can We Change the Amount of Oxalic Acid in our Foods?
Yes we can! I typically recommend people cook or ferment their green vegetables more often than not. No method removes all of the Oxalic Acid in the plants, but it lowers it.
Oxalic acid has it's pros and cons. People who are healthy and eat a balanced diet should be able to manage Oxalic Acid in the diet. Those who have symptoms of mineral deficiencies, or have symptoms of Arthritis, Kidney Disease, IBS, Chrones, or Gout, should limit the amount the amount of Oxalic Acid in there diet. As a general rule, I cook or ferment my green vegetables 90% of the time to decrease the overall consumption of Oxalic Acid (remember there will still be some present). 10% of the time I eat them raw.
I try to use history as my guide. How have cultures traditionally ate these vegetables? Honestly, I sometimes think that if we stopped overthinking it, and looked at what our ancestors did before us, we would be doing just fine dietarily. It took them thousands of years to develop their culinary culture, and I believe it was through trial and error and learning how to use these foods. How often do you find traditional vegetables recipes that are raw and not either cooked for fermented? Just a thought.
For a list of Oxalic Acid levels of individual foods click here - It's not that good, but gives some.
So, why did I bring up Oxalic Acid?
Because today, M1 wanted me to add RAW SPINACH into her lunch. This was her pick today. M1 loves salads, and will often order them for dinner at restaurants. As I have mentioned in the past, I am normally NOT a salad fan. She is and I find that neat, and if that is what she asks for, I make it. I added in some protein sources too (If I let her, she will eat raw lettuce with no dressing and call that a salad...). I made a bunch of bacon bits on Sunday, let's be honest you can always find ways to use bacon bits during the week), and boiled some eggs last night.