Get to know oxalates!

Hello, and welcome to Healthy Tips on Tuesday! This week’s tip is really a teaser of topics to come. Get to Know Oxalates!

I already knew some about Oxalates, because I have CKD. But, I did not know to the extent that they are toxic, and even poisonous. Oxalates are found in lots of plant foods. I have been strictly plant-based for about 2 months now, and I have noticed some odd symptoms. But, I am still researching this, and I don’t have a ton of time today to do a large post. Plus, it is a teaser. You will just have to pay attention to learn more about this topic.

Tomorrow I will most likely be doing my last post on Diverticulitis, and then I can concentrate on Oxalates after that.

If you are Vegetarian, Vegan, Plant-Based, or just eat a ton of plant foods every day, you are going to want to keep up with this topic.


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do not eat Star fruit if you have kidney issues!

Hello, and Happy Sunday! I don’t think I have ever even seen a Star Fruit in my grocery store. I had read before that Star Fruit was a no go for people with Kidney Disease, but I never really knew why. You could guess that maybe it was too high in Potassium, or Phosphorus. Actually, it is much worse than that. Keep reading to learn more, and where I will be going with this topic this week. You still have time to get in this week’s Social Share event. You can add your info until midnight tonight Eastern Time. I am going to try to do different variations of this each weekend.

In researching the Star Fruit I learned quite a bit about Oxalates. Now I already knew that Oxalates can cause issues for people with Kidney Disease. But, what I failed to recognize is that Oxalates do not just cause kidney stones, but can cause other issues in the kidneys. If you read here a lot, then you know that I switched from a Low Carb Diet to a Plant-Based Diet with very low consumption of animal meats, or dairy, and also that I am stable Stage 3 CKD. It is a lower in fat way of eating and it really makes me feel better. But, I did not take into account that I may be getting too much Vitamin C, yes that is a bad thing, and an abundance of Oxalates. I knew leafy greens were high in Oxalates, but I did not know so many other foods were. But, that is for another day. I have been noticing some strange recurring symptoms since going fully plant-based. I am curious to discover if it is due to the Oxalates in these foods, one of which I eat almost every day.

Today, I am discussing just Star Fruit. Apparently it is quite delicious and has a lot of good nutrition qualities. However, it also has some very bad qualities. In certain parts of the world where this fruit grows, and is very popular governments have put limits on consumption of Star Fruit. Now that says something.

The problem with Star Fruit if you have Kidney Disease, and even if you don’t, is that it is very high in Oxalates. Oxalates can cause kidney stones, but it can also possibly cause Neurological issues. When the kidneys can not remove excess Vitamin C, and or Oxalates, then they build up in the bloodstream and can cause Neurotoxicity and even seizures, or brain damage. You will see a video below, and two studies to read on this topic. The one study showed that even people without kidney disease, or prone to kidney stones, can have kidney damage caused by these Oxalates from Star Fruit. A 1/2 cup of Star Fruit contains 246 mg of Oxalates. People with Kidney Disease are often recommended to have up to only 100 mg per day of Oxalates. I don’t know about you, but my kidney doctor has never offered me any nutritional advice except to limit Sodium intake. He also warned me against consuming dairy of which I hardly ever have anymore. But, if eating foods high in Oxalates you might want to have dairy with it as the calcium binds with the Oxalates. Vitamin C is broken down into Oxalates in the body. If you do decide you can’t live without Star Fruit you may wish to eat it with a source of Calcium and drink plenty of water. What plenty of water means to me may not be the amount of water you need, especially if you are on fluid restrictions. Be wise when interpreting food topics.

Of particular interest to me was the fact that Star Fruit, or it’s plant name Carambola, or Kamaranka are sometimes used in herbal remedies, or dietary supplements. It is very important to read ingredient labels to see if this is in a product you may wish to purchase. Take a few minutes to check ingredient lists when you purchase items. Also, if there are any cautions, or warnings, on a label be sure to note them. If you would like to learn more about my Health Coaching services, and how I can help you reach your health goals, please use the contact form at the end of this post to message me.

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Study 1

Study 2


My Meatless week in review and pizza portion distortion

Today is the last day of my week. So, how did I do? I actually followed it without difficulty. I did cheat one day and had a tiny portion of pork. I couldn’t help it, it smelled so good. As far as my CKD goes, I became concerned after about day 3 when I started experiencing itching. This is a possibility that I was eating too much phosphorus which I had stated in the original post was my biggest concern with eating just plants and no meat. So, I researched some of the foods I had been eating. A lot of them I kind of had a general idea how much phosphorus was in them, but I was stunned to find out broccoli was very high in phosphorus and I was eating a lot of it. So, I adjusted my portion sizes and the itching ceased. As far as the g-bombs acronym goes, I discovered I am not going to eat mushrooms everyday, ever, lol. A couple of times a week I can handle. Beans, also are another food item I am not going to consume daily. I do not care for them and they cause me to be bloated and uncomfortable. However, luckily peas are a great replacement for beans and I love peas. I still wouldn’t eat them daily, though. So, what are the points I am trying to make? Diets are tricky and are not a one size fits all thing. Just making a blanket statement that everyone with CKD should follow any one type of diet without adequate education to alter the diet to fit the needs of that individual is just a nightmare. Now, as I originally stated plant based does not mean meat free. So, my experiment was a bit extreme. I also started feeling quite tired midway through the week, so I added a B12 supplement and bought some plant based protein powder as I was not getting no where enough protein mostly due to my dislike for beans, and mushrooms. I also gained 2 pounds this week which is definitely not a goal of mine.

In conclusion I will stick with my low meat protein consumption as I have been doing for 4 years, and will have at least 3 meatless days a week. I stick to 3 to 4 oz portion sizes of good quality meats. One more thing about phosphorus, and I mentioned this in another post on the topic. Phosphorus in plants is about 60% absorbed by the body, according to my research, but phosphorus from processed foods is 100% absorbed by the body. That means if you are following a high processed food diet you should stop and start weening yourself to non processed food items. These transitions take time and patience, but you should start now. Always discuss any diet and supplement changes you make. Advocate for yourself to work with someone to help you learn to follow a diet that is healthy for you. If you do choose to follow a completely meatless meal plan be sure and discuss with your doctor the need for phosphorus binders, Anemia risk as well as being sure you get enough protein to meet your body needs. Your labs and the stage of kidney disease you are at will determine all of those things.

I think I will try a potassium restriction diet in the coming weeks. I do not have issues with potassium but many people with CKD do and they have to restrict their potassium consumption. If they are advised to follow a plant based diet this could be possibly be difficult depending on their food preferences. I know for me following a potassium restricted diet would be complicated and difficult.

Now for my weekly Portion Distortion topic. Publix had Red Baron pizzas buy one get one free this week. My daughter and husband like these on the weekends I work because they are convenient. So, I bought two. On my way out the door I grabbed a piece to eat in the car. The box says 1/4 of the pizza is a serving size. We cut ours in 10 pieces so my piece was pretty small which was good. I have to say I don’t usually like frozen pizzas, but this one had good flavor, and the crust was delicious. However, I immediately noticed how salty it was and it has 760 mg of sodium per serving. Even though my piece was much smaller than a serving size it was very salty. After I got home I looked at the food label. This is something I should do before I eat a food. High in fat, carbs, little to no fiber makes this not a great food item for CKD. There is also quite a bit of Calcium in it which is a concern for some people with CKD. Then I read the ingredients list. You will see words with the letters PHOS in several ingredients. This means this is a highly processed food with possible large amounts of the type of phosphorus that is 100% absorbed by the body. Plus, there may be MSG and soy in there. These types of foods should be consumed in very small amounts. I posted the label below so you can see it for yourself.

I have been watching a lot of these 5 dollar food challenges for the Dollar Tree. I will not do one of the big ones as I am not going to expose my body to that type of food, but I do think this is a huge area of concern for people with chronic diseases. So, be sure to check back for those.

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Learn About G-bombs!

This post will combine a bunch of different topics into one. Yesterday, I shared that this week’s food challenge was for me to be completely meat-free. Why I decided on that challenge I did not explain. If you follow me you know I have CKD. Last week I was browsing through Twitter and one of the kidney organizations I follow was doing a survey on initiatives that various kidney patients would like to see them pursue in the new year. I also knew before that, that there was a huge push for a plant-based diet to be used to treat kidney disease. Some of the questions were geared around that topic. One of my biggest complaints with them using a plant-based diet to treat kidney disease, well actually two complaints, is 1- phosphorus in a plant-based diet is going to be very high levels according to research I have done, though it may not be well absorbed by the body, and 2- I feel like Anemia is a huge issue to consider for anyone on a plant-based diet, but could be dangerous for people with kidney disease. Those 2 reasons, plus the video below encouraged me to approach this topic in the form of a food challenge.

You also know, if you read this blog, that I am creating a Nutrition course for my high school child. The video below will be included in that course.

To begin I need to clarify some frustrating definitions.

What is plant-based? According to Harvard University a plant-based diet is: plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. Why does this frustrate me? For one thing, not everyone classifies it the same way. Some lump plant-based in with veganism. Plant-based simply means the majority of your daily food intake will come from plants. This could mean frozen, canned, etc, especially if you live in a food desert.

What is whole food plant-based? This is a much stricter version of a plant-based diet. Foods should be of the least processed possible and probably raw. In another words in its most natural form. Why is this frustrating? Again, because so many groups and organizations are lumping all of it together, and trust me people take this stuff personally. Let me be clear. If you live in a food desert or on a fixed income, this diet is going to be very hard to follow and or very expensive. A lot in this group are also putting veganism in there. Some of these do not consume any oil in any form as it is highly processed.

What is Vegetarian? Very similar to plant-based, matter of fact I would say almost exactly with the exception that again, organizations and other entities are trying to push the Veganism movement in here. I think that is why it is now called plant-based instead of Vegetarianism. I will be doing plant-based or Vegetarian with some dairy and some eggs. Why? Because of B12. It is the best way to get that vitamin. I have no desire to be Anemic, and yes I can and will take a multivitamin but as you may or may not know there is some evidence that suggests the body does not even absorb multivitamins and are a complete waste of money.

What is Vegan? Vegan’s eat no meat at all, or any product that is derived from meat. They do not buy leather, or any fashion and beauty products derived from or tested on animals. This is a very noble goal to have. It is also not the healthiest for humans. It is awesome for animals, but some studies suggest Vegans do not necessarily eat a healthy diet just because they are not consuming meat products. Next week I will focus on this as it pertains to kidney disease. Some will say Veganism is a political movement and a lot of them are kind of aggressive about their choices as it pertains to convincing others.

I am not saying any of these are better or worse. What I am saying is that without proper education of all the issues that go with kidney disease and the complexities of it, these types of diets will only confuse people. Since phosphorus is not on food labels and is very hard to track in food items, suggesting everyone should be plant-based is complicated. I don’t want B12 injections, so I will do what my body needs to keep Anemia away. If that means I eat small amounts of meat or meat products then that is what I will do.

Now, to the next confusing part of this post. The video below is not about kidney disease. But, it is about living a healthier life into our later years. She mentions G-Bombs in the video and that everyone should be eating them every day. Of course, I had to see what G-Bombs were. Why is this confusing and frustrating? Keep reading to find out.

G-bombs is an acronym for Greens, Berries, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans and Seeds. Great, right? Let’s check some more.

Greens- If you follow some groups, greens means leafy greens. Such as mustard greens, spinach, kale, parsley, romaine lettuce etc. Well, some of us don’t actually like a lot of those greens. You may be bummed even thinking you can not meet your greens’ needs. Greens encompass any food source that is green. Yes, it is true that leafy greens are exceptionally healthy, but so are lots of other greens such as iceberg lettuce, peas, green beans, limes, broccoli, and so many more. So, go ahead and eat your greens, all greens. But, what if you have CKD? If you have kidney disease these greens are typically very high in potassium. So, be sure to eat them in small to moderate amounts. Plus, keep in mind if you are taking Coumadin, or Warfarin greens can be very high in Vitamin K which can affect the effectiveness of your medication. These things just confuse people when they are not told accurate information.

Berries- This one completely made me laugh. Strawberries, blackberries and others are not berries. They are fruit, but not berries. However, bananas, avocados, pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelon, and kiwis are. LOL, so eat your berries. I am pretty sure when they said berries in the video, as a matter of fact, I think she said strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. Now, mind you those fruits are still very good for you but are not berries. Blueberries might be. Again, confusing to consumers of this information.

Onions- Alright I will give them this one. I don’t think there is any way to confuse onions.

Mushrooms- Mushrooms are actually very healthy and a decent protein source for anyone not eating meat. However, I don’t care for fresh mushrooms so I only eat canned or jarred. Plus mushrooms, again are very high in their phosphorus content and should be eaten mindfully if you have kidney disease. Canned or jarred may be less in phosphorus due to processing, but there is no definitive test I can find to that. They are very low in calories too.

Beans- This is my least favorite food to eat. Legumes would fall under this too, but peas are the only ones I like. I can eat small amounts of beans and that is not bad because beans, except green beans are high in potassium and phosphorus. They would need to be eaten with care if you have kidney disease. I only eat 1/4 cup at a time. They are a good source of protein but there is debate about how much of that protein is actually usable by the body.

Seeds- This is another very confusing category. You are probably eating way more seeds than you ever knew. You are probably thinking flax seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds. While those are seeds, again, if you have kidney disease these can be very high in phosphorus and I consume in small amounts only. Nuts can also be included according to the video, again, phosphorus is an issue. Read about seeds, here.

When you put all of this info together you can see how I, someone with kidney disease is frustrated with these kinds of recommendations. I don’t think there are enough studies showing it is safe for all aspects of kidney disease. Yes, I put all of that on my survey. Now, with all of that said, anytime you can eat a healthier diet with less processed foods and more whole foods it is obviously going to be better.

Now, for what I ate today. I made an avocado dressing to put on a baked potato and carrots for lunch. I typically don’t eat breakfast, but I did have a slice of leftover pizza. Dinner will be broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and onions and two eggs. I am not hungry and seem to be satisfied enough. I did go slightly over my carbs limit. I use Myhealthykidney, an app on my phone, and or Eat This Much website to try and figure out how much phosphorus I am consuming. Contact me to learn about my Health Coaching plans.


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Food on Friday: Bok Choy

Happy Friday! As I go to a plant-based diet, I learn about veggies I have never tried. Bok Choy is a Chinese cabbage. It is used a lot in stir fries and soups. I will probably sautee it with onions, peppers and garlic. I will then eat it over a baked potato, rice, or quinoa. If you have CKD there are a few things to know about Bok Choy. It is very low in calories, carbs and sodium. It has 176 mg of potassium per 1 cup serving, which puts it towards the high end per serving. If you have issues with potassium you may want to eat only a half cup. A 1 cup serving also has 7% of your daily requirement of calcium. This is good if you don’t eat dairy, or other calcium rich foods. Just be mindful of the amount you eat. It does not have a lot of fiber.

I personally bought Bok Choy because I learned that it is a good source of calcium. Being post menopausal and someone who does not eat dairy, I need a source of calcium and I really don’t like to take pills.

Do you like Bok Choy? What is your favorite recipe. Share it in the comments. Use the contact form at the bottom of this post to message me if you are interested in any of my Holistic Health Coach services.

The two videos below talk about Bok Choy, and a few recipes. This is not me in the videos. I found them on Youtube.


Going Vegetarian with CKD, Protein

Happy Monday! Health Buddy Melissa is going on a much needed family vacation. We have all been tested for Covid, and are negative, and will be travelling to see family some we haven’t seen in years. We have masks, hand sanitizer, and proper disinfecting supplies. We are ready to go! You can still email me, using the contact form at the end of the post, if you are interested in using any of my coaching services. I will be back to taking new clients on July 13th. I will still communicate via email with anyone who has questions or comments. My laptop goes with me everywhere. I wanted to get in at least one more post before I officially leave.

Last week I talked about the bio-availability of Iron in plant based foods, and how that can affect someone with CKD. Today, I will discuss protein on a plant- based or Vegetarian diet and the challenges of getting enough Protein. I am testing taking Amino Acids with a very low protein diet. I am not suggesting others should do this, but it is worth talking to your physician about. There is a very strong study that taking Amino Acids plus a low protein diet, may help the issue of Protein metabolism and how it effects the kidneys. I will keep you posted on how it goes. As of now it has been about two weeks, and I feel very good, no issues and I have no inflammation or GI upset. I had said before that I was trying Lo Fodmap, and while there are a few of those foods that I truly need to avoid such as soy and cauliflower, most of the rest of that diet is not necessary. I do not tolerate beans, and legumes well, either.

Which leads me to the point of this post. The video below will explain that plant based protein is not as well absorbed as animal protein. Which means you need to eat a lot more of plant based proteins to get enough. If you have CKD, then this can be bothersome because most plants have quite a bit of phosphorus and potassium. Not to mention some are pretty heavy on the calories, and if you want to lose weight this adds another challenge. That does not mean you shouldn’t talk to your doctor about it. Studies are clear that eating a Vegetarian or plant based diet is very beneficial to the kidneys. That is why I am choosing to try the Amino Acid supplement with a low protein diet. This is not a Vegan diet. I have already scheduled my labs and dr appt for September. I also know to monitor my body for any changes or negative effects. Please consult your MD if you choose to give this a go. You do not want to get PEW or muscle wasting. This can be a very bad side effect of a low protein diet. It can also be dangerous. Your heart is a muscle and protein energy wasting can effect the heart. It happens quickly and you may think you are just losing weight, when in actuality you may be losing muscle mass and possibly adding fat in its place. You also don’t want to push your body into Metabolic Alkalosis the opposite of what most kidney patients have from acid buildup. Be smart and be safe.


Fitbit vs Samsung Health and Other Updates

Update time!  This blog now has 18 followers, woot woot.  I am hoping to have at least 100 by the end of the year, and at least 1 customer.  I still have to upgrade the blog, and do some more SEO, and advertising.  All that comes with time.  This Thursday’s post will be on Stress and Cardiac Disease.  March is Kidney Awareness month, so you can probably guess what my scheduled posts will be about.  I sent my first advocacy letter, yesterday, for the National Kidney Foundation.  Keep reading to get my thoughts on Fitbit, Samsung Health, Carb Cycling, and Plant Based Diets.  I am up to 8,000 steps per day, with a goal of 10,000.

First the Fitbit vs Samsung Health App.  My husband got me a Fitbit for Valentine’s Day.  This was unexpected, but he has heard me complain that the Samsung Health app, on my phone was not counting all my steps, and boy was that an understatement.

Fitbit:  The Fitbit is a watch that you wear on your wrist.  I can almost fit it on my ankle, which would be useful.  Why, because when you are for example walking through the grocery store, it is not counting your steps, because you are pushing a shopping cart.  Your arm must be swinging when walking in order for it to count the steps.  That is con number one.  Con number two is the heart rate feature.  I am a nurse, so of course I know how to count my pulse.  The Fitbit gets the resting heart rate correct, but the second I start to walk, or exercise, at a good clips, it shoots up well into the 100’s.  I check my heart rate to compare, as this is alarming to me, and it is way, way off.  So, that feature is useless.  It also does not seem to count my Fitness Walking as exercise, so again that feature is not helpful.  The time, and date is nice, but for a nurse there is no second hand to count pulse or resp, so I have to wear two watches when I work.  Again, not really helpful.  I do love it for accurately counting my steps, when my arm is able to swing.  It is modern looking, and comfortable to wear.  I do wish it was waterproof.

Samsung Health App:  Before I got the Fitbit, I used the Samsung Health app on my phone.  It is a great little app.  It however does not accurately count my steps.  It was off by 3000 steps the day the phone was in my pocket at work.  That is a huge discrepancy.  It also means you constantly have to have the phone in your pocket, or otherwise on your person.  For some people I am sure that is OK, for me it is a pain.  I very often forget to have it with me.  It is better at keeping track of my fitness minutes, as the Fitbit did not count my Fitness Walking as exercise time.  So, between the two I might get an accurate account of my day.

Carb Cycling Diet:  If you read this blog, then you know I tried the Carb Cycling.  Carb Cycling is alternating between low carb days, and normal carb days.  For me, I did not go under 50 carbs per day, on low carb days.  At first I felt good, and even lost a few pounds.  But, after 3 days, or so, the extra protein, fat, and phosphorus started to make me feel not so good.  Now, maybe that was psychological, but I also put the weight back on, which is obviously not a goal.  Carb Cycling did not work for me, and is quite expensive to stick with.

Plant Based Diet:  You can probably guess what kind of diet this is.  It is plant based, with little to no meat, or dairy.  Organic, no GMO, and avoiding processed foods is a must.  Whole Plant Based means you absolutely only eat foods from plants, and no oils, butter, or processed foods.  That will never be me.  With CKD, I have to be sure and get enough Iron, and Protein.  Plus, a plant based diet is very low in sodium, which is good.  But, the body needs sodium to function properly.  I think I was not getting enough on this diet, and was starting to show some symptoms of Hyponatremia.  So, I had to add some table salt to my food, normally a no no for CKD.  The headaches I was experiencing went away very quickly after adding some salt to my food.  So, while plant based is probably the healthiest and best option, for all humans, you still have to be mindful of all nutrients you are consuming, and symptoms of possibly not getting enough.  Full disclosure I will never give up real butter, Olive Oil, Mayonnaise, or real cheese should I want it.  I eat organic, Omega 3 eggs at least a couple times a week.  I have a sensitivity to Soy, so that is not an option for me, including Tofu.

Message me if you would like to work with me to learn how to meet your diet goals.