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How Chia & Almonds Led to Health Troubles

One 59 year old woman had IBS, compromised kidney function, and osteoporosis.

Her follow up appointment with her kidney doctor revealed some troubling lab work, so the woman underwent KIDNEY BIOPSY.

Renal biopsy showed glomerulosclerosis, fibrosis and calcium oxalate deposition.

The poor woman should have been asked if her diet had changed in the last 6 months, and they might have avoided the biopsy procedure.

After the biopsy, then the doctors realized maybe they should ask questions about dietary changes.

Trying to Manage IBS

Turns out, the woman was trying to manage her irritable bowel syndrome by eating 6 Tbs of chia seeds and 5 handfuls of almonds daily. All the typical medical advice for those with IBS seems to be “eat more fiber” and “take fiber supplements” but this advice was not helpful, in this case anyway.

A little chia and almonds may be ok, but then there are people who think more is better.

This daily habit was a double whammy of trouble giving her a daily overdose of oxalates and too much fiber from seeds and nuts.

6 Tbs Chia Seeds + 5 Handfuls of Almonds:

  • Oxalates = 1,000mg per day (keep daily oxalates to 150mg)
  • Fiber in 6T chia = 30 grams
  • Fiber in 5 handfuls of almonds = 20 grams
  • Fiber from just chia and almonds = 50 grams a day
  • She already had compromised kidney health but this habit ultimately caused more kidney injury

Eating this extremely high oxalate diet led to calcium oxalate deposits her kidneys.

Treatment and Outcome

Doctor recommended treatment: stop eating high oxalate foods, drink more water and take a calcium supplement. Two months later she has lost weight and her lab tests/kidneys returned to baseline.

For six years the woman was eating real food, following a diet plan (“The Virgin Diet”) that avoided gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn and sugar/artificial sweeteners.

  • Her health problems began only in the last few months when she started over-consuming chia seeds and almonds.
  • The problem was not her real food diet for six years.
  • The Virgin Diet did not tell her to eat 6T chia seeds and 5 handfuls of almonds daily, but she did.
  • In the published case report the researchers blamed “fad diets”—like the real food diet—instead of the individual who ate to extremes in the oxalate category of seeds and nuts.

Study source

Nov. 30 2020. GMJ Case Report: Diet-induced oxalate nephropathy from excessive nut and seed consumption

Let’s review Oxalates!

Top Four Oxalate Offenders (Keep daily oxalates to 150mg)

The following oxalate content data are summarized from test results reported by reputable laboratories and research reports:

  • Spinach, raw—Serving: 1 ½ cups (45 g) / Oxalate Per Serving (mg): 450-500 (Swiss Chard, Beet Greens)
  • Chia seeds—Serving: ¼ cup (40 g) / Oxalate Per Serving (mg): 260
  • Almonds, with skins—Serving: 24 nuts (28 g) / Oxalate Per Serving (mg): 120
  • Sweet potato, baked, flesh only—Serving: 1 cup (200 g) / Oxalate Per Serving (mg): 100-150.

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