The Kale Shake is Awesome – So Upgrade It

The Mighty Mighty Kale Shake
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Kale and fruit breakfast shakes are all the rage now.  But, there are ways to make this nutrient-dense drink even better for you.

Kale naturally has oxalic acid in it to protect it from animals, insects, and fungi.  Oxalic acid is a toxin made from a mixture of fungus and yeast, and can cause lots of problems, such as gout, kidney stones, and muscle pains. To lower your smoothie’s oxalic acid, you can mix calcium and magnesium in your blender.  These minerals bind to the oxalic acid so you don’t absorb as much of it.

Also, steaming your kale will protect your thyroid and ensure that you get all the great nutrients kale provides – like vitamins A, C, and K.

You also want to make sure you put plenty of fat in your smoothie – can you say Brain Octane™?  Many vitamins and nutrients can’t be absorbed without enough fat, so a fat-free smoothie is a waste of nutrients.

And when you’re picking your kale, go for dinosaur kale instead of curly kale.  Curly kale is just dinosaur kale that has been stressed by its environment, and has more toxins like oxalic acid.

Read the full post for the recipe!

Kale shakes are popular for breakfast these days, even though they sound gross. Kale has nutrients that make people feel healthier, lose weight, and just kick more ass. It’s a huge upgrade over toxic sugar-filled cereal, muffins, and yogurt commonly known as “breakfast.”

People turn to raw kale shakes because they want to start their day with a massive dose of nutrients and a revved up digestive system. But what if kale had a dark side, and knowing about it could make your kale shake even better, with more health and performance benefits?

Believe it or not, there are some long-term problems that come with daily raw kale shakes. I learned about them when I was a raw vegan with a daily blender full of kale, before I discovered the Bulletproof® Diet.

The good news is that you can totally upgrade your kale shake by removing kale’s natural self-defense mechanisms and increasing your vitamin absorption from it. Biohacking your kale shake will blow up the nutritional benefits and send your energy level through the roof.

A raw kale shake is easy to make – just blend together some raw kale and whatever other raw fruits (aka high fructose wet candy) or other vegetables you like. This common formula raises a few biohackers red flags in terms of optimizing health and human performance. As nutritious as kale is, it has a much darker side. That’s why I hacked the recipe to overcome the problems and upgrade your kale make your body and mind Bulletproof!

The Dark and Light Side of Raw Kale – What Oxalates in Raw Kale Do to You

Raw Kale’s Dark Side

  • Kale’s oxalic acid can cause muscle weakness
  • Raw kale can cause painful sex
  • Kidney stone risk
  • Gout risk
  • Lowered thyroid function (goitrogenic)

Raw Kale’s Light Side

  • 180% RDA of vitamin A
  • 1000% RDA of vitamin K
  • High concentration of antioxidants
  • Sulphur-based nutrients
  • Carotenoids and flavonoids
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin for your eyes

Oxalic acid forms in kale to protect kale from predation by animals, insects, and fungi. Animals that eat too much of it die unpleasantly unless they have well-developed oxalic acid detoxifying systems. Oxalic acid is also a mycotoxin – a toxin produced by the fungus aspergillus and the common yeast candida. Candida is the cause of most yeast infections and some gut problems.1

Oxalic acid crystals can form anywhere in your body when oxalic acid binds to calcium to form crystals, causing muscle pain. It’s very similar to the way uric acid crystals form in joints in cases of gout. I suspect that many people with diagnosed gout, especially at a young age, also have oxalic acid problems. Oxalic acid also causes most kidney stones when it binds to calcium in the kidney. Low-grade fungal infections happen quite often in relatively healthy people, and they increase your oxalic acid burden.2

It sounds hard to believe, but oxalates also cause painful sex in some women when oxalic acid crystals form in the vagina. Before my wife Lana went Bulletproof, she suffered greatly from an oxalic acid related condition called vulvodynia.2 She had lived in a water-damaged home with oxalic-acid-raising mold, and added to her burden with ate a lot of raw spinach and kale, and had fertility problems. She’s fine now, but doesn’t eat raw kale or spinach anymore. Vulvodynia is a “mystery condition” in Western medicine with links to yeast problems, antibiotic use, and emotions.

Unfortunately oxalates are not just in kale. Other high sources of oxalate are, from highest to lowest, – buckwheat, black pepper, parsley, poppy seed, rhubarb, amaranth, spinach, chard, beets, chocolate, most nuts, most berries, and beans. (Yes, chocolate. That’s why my chocolate is from low-fungus crops that naturally produce less oxalic acid. I’ll get my oxalic acid – and way more antioxidants – from chocolate, not kale, thank you very much!)

In short, oxalic acid is something you should minimize no matter where it comes from.

Symptoms of oxalate poisoning are muscle weakness, burning in the mouth, eyes, ears, nose, and throat, and in the gastrointestinal system, it causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.2 Oxalate poisoning does not sound pretty, but you’re unlikely to get acute oxalate poisoning, unless your chronic (daily) consumption of oxalates is so high that your body fails to clear it.

Adding to your oxalic acid burden by eating raw kale regularly is a bad idea. There’s no reason to burden your body with oxalic acid without getting a large benefit at the same time.

Try “Calcium Loading” with Kale

The bulletproof perspective on calcium is that most people have too much of it compared to magnesium, so supplementing it is not recommended for most people. But for kale fans, we change the rules. Supplementing is still a bad idea, but adding it, along with magnesium, to your blender with kale is a great idea.

Because oxalic acid binds vital minerals in the gut, long-term consumption of foods high in oxalic acid can lead to nutrient deficiencies. When calcium supplements are taken with foods high in oxalic acid, the oxalic acid actually precipitates in the gut and drastically reduces the levels of oxalate absorbed by the body. Some cases show as much as a 97% decrease in oxalate levels.2

Additionally, a 1997 study showed that “mineral water containing calcium and magnesium deserves to be considered as a possible therapeutic or prophylactic agent in calcium oxalate kidney stone disease” I suspect the study used my favorite water, San Pellegrino, but the study just says “French mineral water containing calcium (202 ppm) and magnesium (36 ppm)” Each of 80 subjects provided 24-hour urine collection samples daily for the study, and drank mineral water for 3 days, then tap water for 3 days. The water with minerals improved nine risk factors for kidney stones.3

The best way to calcium load is not to take pills or drink water, but to toss your calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide supplements in the blender with your kale. Let the harmful oxalic acid precipitate out in the blender, so your body can filter it out when you drink it. If you allow free oxalic acid into your body without minerals at the exact same time, it will absorb into your body, then, depending on your genetics, infections, history, and your oxalate load, it can form crystals in your muscle tissue, kidneys, or vagina.

Raw Kale is a Goitrogenic Food that Disrupts Thyroid Function

Kale and other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. can block production of thyroid hormones. Basically, goitrogens inhibit uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland, which slows the production of thyroid hormones.4

Disrupting thyroid hormones is so NOT the way to be Bulletproof – it’s essentially anti-bulletproof. Thyroid hormones such as T3 and T4 play an incredibly important roll in regulating your metabolism. If thyroid production slows down, your metabolism slows down, and your fat burning ability slows way down. Being Bulletproof is all about minimizing the things that sabotage your hormone system and maximizing the things that rebalance your hormone levels.

Not only do goitrogens disrupt the thyroid, they may also increase your risk for thyroid cancer. Studies show that high consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables paired with iron deficiencies may contribute to higher incidences of thyroid cancer,4 even while the sulforaphane compounds in them fight other cancer types.

Goitrogens are no joke. Reducing the amount of uncooked cruciferous vegetables (i.e. kale) you eat will reduce the amount of goitrogens you let in your body. But there is a safe way to get the good stuff from kale. Read on…

Kale’s Light Side – What Kale Nutrients do for You

With kale’s dark side in focus, it’s also important to acknowledge kale’s light side. Steamed kale provides a wealth of vitamins to support good health and performance.

Most of kale’s health benefits are linked to high concentrations of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K. Just one cup of chopped steam kale contains 885 mcg of vitamin A (exceeds recommended dietary allowance for women and almost completely meets it for men) and 10,652 mcg of beta-carotene (a phytonutrient necessary for vitamin A production). Vitamin A and beta-carotene promote healthy eyesight, tissue growth, and skin and hair repair. It also helps protect against infection from pathogenic organisms.

The vitamin C found in kale facilitates tissue repair, boosts the immune system, and provides antioxidant protection against pathogens and toxins. Except, well, one vitamin C capsule will kick your kale’s ass. So add some ascorbic acid (vitamin C) powder to your smoothie too.

Kale is incredibly rich in vitamin K. Studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition say that vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer.5 Vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.

Because kale contains an abundance of health and performance optimizing vitamins, you should view it as a Bulletproof food – BUT only if you take action against its built-in problems.

Eat Kale with Fat for Optimal Absorption of Vitamins

Many vitamins and micronutrients are fat-soluble, meaning they are not well absorbed without the presence of adequate fat. One study showed that people who consume salads with fat-free salad dressing absorbed far less of the helpful phytonutrients and vitamins from spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots than those who consumed their salads with salad dressing containing fat.5

Another study of over 1.700 Swedish men showed that consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, but only when combined with full-fat consumption like full fat butter.6 Recommendations from this study include adding 1-2 tablespoons of butter to all freshly cooked vegetables.

People always tell their kids to eat their vegetables but few parents realize that children also need to consume an adequate amount of fats with vegetables to fully support proper physical and mental development. Without adequate fat in the diet, children are literally starved of the nutrients necessary for development. My kids would be horrified at steamed vegetables NOT dipped in butter.

Bottom line – Add some sort of fat (i.e. grass-fed butter, Brain Octane™, and Upgraded™ XCT oil) to your kale and all other vegetables for that matter so your body can use them all the way. If you still eat raw kale after reading this far, you can put Upgraded™ XCT oil in the smoothie.

Steam Your Kale to Reduce Oxalates and Goitrogens

In 2007, a study found that a half-cup of steamed kale is medium oxalate, while a half-cup of steamed and drained kale is low oxalate.1 With all the potential damage high oxalates in the body can cause – steam and drain your kale!

Lightly steaming kale and other cruciferous vegetables for up to 30 minutes (far less helps) also significantly reduces the amount of goitrogens and nitriles.6 Reducing goitrogens in your kale reduces the likelihood of disruption to your thyroid and risk of thyroid cancer.

Lightly cooking vegetables also helps break down the cellular structures to increase the digestibility and nutrient absorption of nutrients in the vegetables. Nutrient absorption is also important in terms of the amount of energy your body is actually getting from the food you eat. Studies also show that women who predominantly eat raw food have lower energy intake and higher rates menstrual irregularities than those eating predominantly cooked food.8

After going over all the abundance of vitamins kale has to offer, it is definitely smart to better your chances of absorbing them all by simply steaming your kale.

Don’t Eat Curly Kale or Battered Kale

Dinosaur kale is much lower oxalate than curly kale.1 So eat that variety in your morning kale dose. Battered kale is not a new recipe…it’s what happens to kale that is roughly treated in the field. Kale that is stressed by the environment – insect predation, fungal infestation, or draught and heat problems – will create more toxins, including oxalic acid. So pick the prettiest dinosaur kale you can find.

Summary: How to Upgrade Your Kale to be Bulletproof

  • Dinosaur KaleChoose the right species (dino kale, not curly kale) – Dino kale is much lower oxalate than curly kale.1
  • Cook it – Cooking it and throwing out the water reduces kale’s oxalate levels by 2/3.2
  • Add fat – Grass-fed butter is a great source of fat to optimize the absorption of vitamins in kale while also boosting cognitive function and gut health. Upgraded™ XCT oil is also another premium sources of fat to add to your kale because it improves the body’s absorption and use of Vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium. It also works directly in cells to give you an extra boost to maximize your performance.
  • Calcium load – Add about a gram of calcium carbonate and 500mg-1000mg of magnesium oxide to your blender to reduce your absorption of oxalates. Or at least swallow a capsule as you are eating it.

Upgraded Kale Recipe to Supercharge Your Body and Brain

Biohackers know cooking is one of the variables that leads to better personal performance. It’s not just the quality of your food, it’s how it’s prepared.

This upgraded kale recipe shows you how to serve your kale shake warm, not cold. It tastes amazing without any sugar or fruit, carries protein well, and fuels your body and mind to levels of performance beyond what you probably believe you’re capable of. I eat this recipe regularly, and it is in Upgraded™ Chef, but without calcium loading.Curly Kale

Ingredients (serves 1):

*optional ingredients


  1. Steam kale with about a cup or so of water until cooked (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Drain water. Add more fresh hot water if you want a thinner consistency.
  3. Blend drained kale with cal:mag, salt, herbs, vinegar, grass-fed butter and Upgraded XCT oil until super creamy.
  4. Lastly, for added protein, add Upgraded Collagen or other heat stable protein to the mixture and lightly blend until the protein is mixed in. Or just add pastured raw eggs!
    (NOTE: Be sure to add the protein last and only slightly blend – you don’t want to mechanically damage that expensive protein. You’ll ruin it!)

NOTE: Using a high-speed blender (e.g. Blendtec) is best, you’ll be happy with this functional, time-reducing, texture-enhancing investment.

For this Upgraded Kale recipe there is no need to add sugar, fruit, or other carbs for it to taste great and make you feel BETTER than a fruit/kale smoothie.

In fact, this recipe can either be eaten as a quick shake to fuel up for the day or add some ground grass fed beef or lamb to make it as a hot soup to share for lunch or dinner. Either way, this low-toxin and high-nutrient upgraded kale shake or soup recipe will leave you feeling satisfied, nourished, and energized!

If there’s a way to get more out of something, then why not?!

Click to read the complete list of references.

  4. What are Goitrogens and How Do they Affect the Thyroid?, Mary Shomon, author of Your Guide to Thyroid Disease
  5. – Role of dietary iodine and cruciferous vegetables in thyroid cancer: a countrywide case-control study in New Caledonia.
  6. (Holmberg et al. Food Choices and Coronary Heart Disease: A Population Based Cohort Study of Rural Swedish Men with 12 Years of Follow-up. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. October 2009.)
  7. Bearers of the Cross: Crucifers in the Context of Traditional Diets and Modern Science”
  8. Carmody, Rachel N.; Wrangham, Richard W., The energetic significance of cooking. Journal of Human Evolution 2009,57, 379–391
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By Dave Asprey

  • Devin

    Great post. I’ll give that recipe a try. Do you recommend eating your kale shake recipe in addition to or in-lieu of Bulletproof coffee? That seems like an MCT Oil and butter mega-dose if I drink both in the morning.

    • Aaron Kash

      I started to add green tea instead of hot water as a work around to getting my morning caffeine fix. As a bonus I found the sodium in the AM seems to get my adrenals going quicker so I don’t seem to need as much caffeine anyways.

  • Joshua

    Is it important to use magnesium oxide? How about the other forms of magnesium recommended for mineral supplementation?

  • A

    You list raw eggs as a potential addition to this shake… Since you’re adding Calcium Carbonate, would egg shells (if blended sufficiently) work here?

  • Aron

    Never occured to me to give calcium the oxalates before they enter your body. Good insight. I also like how this post was ready just in time for your next appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience.

  • Jacqueline

    Great information. I love how you really showed the science behind this! Keep it coming Dave.

  • Faraz Ace

    Can anyone tell me a known source or a product or food I can use that contains Mg oxide and Ca carbonate? Thank you

    • Shadoweaver

      I use dried and powdered egg shells from free range hens for the calcium. I don’t know for the magnesium though.

      • Faraz Ace

        Thanks for your reply. I heard him say on rogan’s podcast that the addition of Mg is even more important than Ca since calcium is more abundant in our diet. I still have not found a 1:1 natural source. And the closest supplement I know is 2:1 Ca/Mg pills.


      • Shannon

        What do you think about just throwing a whole egg, shell and all, into the mix for the calcium?

  • PaleoLifestyleMag

    Interesting topic, and considering my breakfast shakes and lunch salads consist of kale, broccoli, parsley, etc., it makes me a bit nervous, especially since I have a case of alopecia areata that I can’t seem to shake. Don’t know if correlation is causation, but I’ve been doing these shakes for a year and have had hair problems for 7+ months.

    Looks like I’ll be doing a lot of steaming and cooking of my veggies for the foreseeable future!

  • Jess

    Hi Dave,

    I massage my kale before blending or sauteing it and that breaks down its cellulose structure,makes it damp and shrinks it. Do I still need to do this before steaming it or should I just cut the massage out altogether? Also, are the oxalates in baby kale less?


  • kristin

    I steam my kale, blend it in a blendtec and then freeze into ice cube trays so I always have some on hand.

    • Nizzo

      This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

    • paulvoluntaristmichel

      How many Kale ice cubes do you use per shake?

    • Rawstagirl

      nice Kristin thanks for this idea. cheers!

    • fp cassini

      how much nutrition do you think is lost doing this?

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  • John

    Great article. I didn’t realize I could be damaging the protein (upgraded collagen or whey) in a blender – roughly how much time is recommended for blending? And what exactly is being damaged, and what are the implications of eating this protein? Thanks!!

    • Rawstagirl

      Hi John, not sure if you got your question answered but what I have found is that these types of proteins are very fragile…if it is blended too much or frozen for that matter it will denature the fragile nutrients. It is similar to colostrum in this respect. So basically you blend up everything besides the collagen or eggs. then once all is well incorporated gently pour in the other proteins and on a slow low level blend incorporate these proteins. This will ensure nutrients are still in tact. Take Care.

  • moishe

    Interesting. I’m currently taking a supplement because of recurring kidney stones, that contains both magnesium oxide, and magnesium citrate. It also contains potassium citrate, but not calcium. Thoughts?

    • Chris Heine

      I was listening to his podcast with Joe Rogan, and I think the calcium will only help to prevent kidney stones when taken at the same time as kale. I’m pretty sure (not positive) that kale’s self defense chemical bonds with the calcium and can be easily passed through the stomach when taken together. If they’re taken separately, I don’t think the calcium will have the desired effect. Not too sure, but I think it was explained that way. Anyway, hope that helps.

  • guest

    From above:
    I suspect the study used my favorite water, San Pellegrino, but the study just says “French mineral water…”

    Just a heads up, San Pellegrino is sourced from and bottled in Northern Italy.

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  • bones

    I don’t understand the part about mineral water. Can I pour some mineral water in with my kale shake instead of throwing in calcium and magnesium?

    • Katyna Tran

      Sure. Not sure it would be as concentrated, so you might have to pour quite a bit in to your shake. I’d probably just drink the mineral water along side the shake

  • Chelsey Wallace

    Anyone have suggestions on type of calcium & magnesium to use in this recipe ? Thanks 🙂

  • Jon

    I keep reading that oxalate levels in kale are actually lower per 100 grams than foods like broccoli, lettuce, celery or spinach. If that’s true would I also need to steam any of those vegetables before making a shake?

    • Faraz Ace

      I know that oraganic untreated celery is fine but the traditional ones contain nitrites/nitrates for defence mechanism. For broccoli, as advices by the dolce diet I steam it for about 2 minutes.

    • Katyna Tran

      Yup! All cruciferous vegetables should be lightly cooked to lower oxalate levels

  • I was wondering is boiling kale in bulk for 5 minutes then storing it in the fridge for my shakes be a good solution?

    • Katyna Tran

      That’s what I do, except I freeze a large bag of already boiled and drained kale to have ready for cold smoothies or warm soups.

      • tnafam

        be careful with freezing plastic bags and plastic then thawing it. I knew someone that was a health freak that got cancer from thawing plastic for her daily drinks and she unfortunately pass away a couple of years ago. I try to using bowls instead of plastic zip lock bags now.

        • fp cassini

          “got cancer from thawing plastic for her daily drinks”– how can we know this attribution is accurate?

    • Elizabeth Eldridge

      That’s what I do & I love it! Tastes great and I feel amazing!

  • Jason H.

    How about avocodo as the fat source?

    • Wegan

      That sounds healthier, hemp seeds

  • James

    I was wondering when you were going to talk more about oxalate content! I noticed in the “upgraded chef” that you had made distinct categories of “cooked” kale+others, and I was wondering when you’d key people in on the best way to deal with this.

    Fantastic suggestions. I was avoiding green smoothies for these very reasons, but somehow it never occurred to me to make smoothies from steamed veggies! But adding in the minerals to bind to oxalates and disrupt absorption? Stroke of genius (or more likely good research!)

  • XfitNut

    Can you explain how this applies to juicing as well? I juice kale, broc, carrots, an apple, and a cucumber every single day. I’ve never felt better in my life and I have literally stopped getting sick. But if I can improve, I want to! I take a calcium/mag/zinc vitamin nightly. Should I take it during the day with my juice? Thanks for all your research and a great website!

    • blue21

      I’m far from an expert at any of this, but juicing takes out most of whats good in fruit and your juice seems a bit high carb for the bulletproof diet

    • brad

      the worry is you feel great now but get a kidney stone or thryoid cancer later… i

      • George Shope

        Adding 500mg Borax to your diet @ every meal will prevent that problem, besides eating the Oxalic Acid rich foods at the Right time, based on your upcoming physical activities.

        Also, it’s beneficial to add the following to your diet as well:

        500mg Natural Earth Clay (Red Clay is recommended)
        500mg Hardwood Ash (Red Oak is recommended)
        500mg Apple or Blackberry Pectin

        Eliminating Sodium Chloride from your diet is also a must, just substitute Potassium Nitrate instead (aka: saltpeter). Also, a healthy sex life is also HIGHLY recommended, it’s just you must do it Right but this discussion isn’t the correct place to talk about that. 😉

        Ribbit 🙂

        • Aaron

          Before following the advice of using potassium nitrate, research it. It has health concerns. And you are telling people not to consume sodium chloride on a website that touts it’s benefits to health.

  • Matt

    Would throwing some natural calm+ calcium in the blender work, even though it’s not specifically mag. Oxide and calcium carbonate?

  • Rdd TheStrong

    I LOVE kale chips and buy them from the farmers market almost every week. What about Kale chips? Are they bullet proof?

    • RebelLibertarian

      NO. Frying doesn’t destroy any antinutrients (especially heat-stable oxalates). They’re way overpriced and sometimes moldy. Probably fried in polyunsaturate too

      • Frasier Linde

        Kale chips are usually baked, not fried. Overpriced, yes.

  • Dave, thank you for this recipe! I’m going to try this out! I am currently taking Total Primate Care by Onnit, which, amung many other things, contains chelated magnesium, magnesium, and coral calcium. I am assuming I will have to use more magnesium and calcium in my shakes. Should I use chelated magnesium vs non-chelated? coral calcium vs. non-coral?

    Also, I was wondering if you had and comments/concerns about the TPC. I figure you know more about supplements than I do..

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  • Shannon Drake

    Hey Dave, So I have some insight for your wife. I started having “lady area” discomfort when I was about 20, I thought I had chronic UTI’s and would just go to the doctor to get anti-biotics. The doctors handed them over without question, never investigating why a perfectly healthy 20 year old was constantly coming in for meds. The pain would come and go but at about 24 it was coming more than going (pun intended) and it came on so strongly I stopped having sex at all for a good 6months. It was so bad I would go home early from work and sit in a warm bathtub for hours.

    I went to about 5 gynecologist who gave me a myriad of reasons/excuses… stress, depression, hormones… no reason at all. The problem was I was not stressed or depressed or hormonal, in fact I was quite the opposite. Finally, one day I was at yet another gyno apointment, butt just feeling the breeze in my gown… I asked my gyno “what in the world COULD be wrong, i’ve come in over 20 times I’ve gone to 4 other gynocologists.. I mean…” then it struck me like a bus… gynocologist… I’ve only been going to gynocologists! What else is in that area? Your bladder and urethra! I asked my gyno if she thoght I should go to a urologist, her eyes lit up and she sent me stright upstairs to a urologist.

    The waiting room was 100% men and I could see why not one single gyno thought to send me to a urologist. I met with the doctor, explained my chronic UTI problem and how no one knew what was wrong. He looked at me and said “Are you ready to feel better because I know whats wrong and I’m so glad you came” Long story short, they ran some rather uncomfortable tests and diagnosed me with Interstitial cystitis. Another “we don’t really know what causes it” disease but there are very specific FOOD guidelines that thousands of women have compiled. Along with some “emergency” medication solutions if you have a flare-up

    After doing a bland two week diet then re-introducing items I found my triggers. They tend to fall into tiers from:

    Bananas (the devil in a yellow jacket)
    black pepper

    Avoid in raw form and excess:
    Black Tea
    Gluten (which I now avoid for other reasons)

    Use with moderation, do not combine with other triggers:
    Paprika (nightshades seem to be a theme)

    The short rules are avoid high acid, high potassium, and I find gluten and nightshades.

    I now feel 100% 90% of the time (some times a lady has to eat some chocolate and coffee!) BTW I ordered some of your coffee in hopes i can tollerate more of it than normal 🙂 Anyways sorry for the novel, I meet a lot of women with “painful sex” “chronic UTI’s” or various lady problems that are solved after I shed the IC (Interstitial cystitis) light on things. I hope she finds this helpful, sex is awesome… no lady should go without!

    • Kristen

      I looked up a little more about oxalic acid and according to the USDA kale has one of the least amounts of oxalic acid compared to most vegetables. Spinach, parsley, carrots, garlic and many other common vegetables contain much more. Do you have different data than this?

      I eat a lot of kale (kale smoothies in the morning and kale salads in the evening) so would be really curious to know where you found the information about kale having high amounts of oxalic acid 🙂

      • Adam J

        im happy he ignored you

        • Jeff


        • DawnmeshellRN

          What an obnoxious thing to say.

        • Adam J

          yeah I know HAHAHAHA thumps up on your comment =D=D=D

      • anon

        Rule number 1: Don’t trust what gov says.

        • MSfan2

          Yeah, always trust a blogger trying to make a buck over scientist who show peer reviewed evidence.

        • Hmmmm -__-

          lol, right. Broccoli has literally 10x the amount of O.A.

    • CC

      Just wanted to say I had the same problem for 20 years and finally discovered that avocado was my trigger food. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

  • Dave

    Maybe magnesium citrate rather than oxide. Citrate is absorbed better.

  • Don

    Where’s the link to the Rogan podcast you were just on?

  • the wizard

    one thing people should keep in mind is everyones bio-genetic makeup is different and we all respond differently to what we ingest. I eat raw CURLY kale salads and drink raw CURLY kale shakes almost daily for over a few years now and I feel great. I have not experienced any of the symptoms listed associated with oxalate levels. My body seems to respond to the diet im on quite well. In fact, I have a history of knee injuries so it is that much more important all my other other muscles are not fatigued and are functioning efficiently. I have been injury free for a few years now, which seems to coincide with when I began consuming large amounts of kale and spinach. and I havent been doing any of the kale optimization stuff. just plain old raw curly kale, mixed with fruits and other veggies in shakes and salads. thats not to say that making the change would be better for me, but im just tired of hearing how when people are eating healthy some new study comes out to tell them they’re not. also keep in mind no diet is a cure-all for what ails you. I also attribute my staying injury free to having taken up yoga, sleeping better (ish), regulating how much i exercise, and post-exercise recovery regimen. all one has to do is listen to their body to know what is good for them.

  • Roy James

    I have been soaking my greens in a vinegar/water solution to clean them when bought. It works great and they last longer under refrigeration. I have read that the vinegar soaking (10 minutes with a half cup vinegar to a gallon of water) also reduces oxalate. Any comments? I have no idea if this is true or not.

    • Madeleine Fulton

      I would also like to know the answer to that question; I prefer some leafy greens raw, just taste/texture-wise, and would love a way to reduce oxalates without cooking…?

      • thwap

        Add me to the boat too. I swear I read lemon juice / ACV soaking helps to negate oxalates a lot, I wonder if it indeed is true…

    • Elizabeth Eldridge

      I do that with berries as well. They last WAY longer!

  • leroysavage

    These two seem contradictory (NOTE: Be sure to add the protein last and only slightly blend – you don’t want to mechanically damage that expensive protein. You’ll ruin it!)
    NOTE: Using a high-speed blender (e.g. Blendtec) is best, you’ll be happy with this functional, time-reducing, texture-enhancing investment.

    • Philip J. Mauch

      The high-speed blender is good for breaking up the kale and mixing everything together. Once done, turn the speed to “Low” and add the collagen.

  • Rich

    I have a question, does rinsing or washing your kale with a vinegar water solution help prevent any of the dark side effects you mentioned above? Just seems like my once thought healthy kale shake is pretty bad for me and there now seems like there is a lot more work to get it healthy again.


    • Frasier Linde

      I don’t think rinsing with vinegar will significantly affect oxalic acid or goitrogen levels. Soaking might be a different story.

  • Anna

    Nice post! Quick question: does steaming/heating help to reduce oxalates in all leafy greens? I’m mostly thinking about the bushy kind of parsley and spinach as I like to throw these in my shakes.
    All the best!

  • Doug

    Does red kale present the same hazards as the green kale with respect to its dark side problems?

  • Kourosh Ward

    And what can we do to avoid the darkside of, black pepper, parsley, rhubarb, amaranth, spinach, chard, beets, chocolate, most nuts, most berries, and beans. Also tomatoes I love tomatoes is there a better way to Eat them?

    • RebelLibertarian

      Black pepper is guaranteed to have mycotoxins.

      • Kourosh Ward

        Wat about the others. But I out pepper in all my food lol. Damn

        • Eveland

          If you are going to use pepper anyway at least grind it fresh when you use it. Never use pre-ground pepper and you will at least limit your toxin exposure.

  • TheAnswer

    Kale actually has a very low ammount of oxalate and i would say juicing the kale would remove most of it

  • Woz NJ

    How does this effect IF? if taken with BP coffee?

  • Madeleine Fulton

    Hey Dave, this is on a slightly different subject but I think the kale topic parallels issues about a lot of foods, so here’s one about garlic: I’ve heard a lot
    about the benefits of garlic–allicin, antioxidants, etc. (i.e. from Tim
    Ferriss) but you recommend limiting intake due to aflatoxin (and fructans?) Is there
    such thing as garlic sans aflatoxin or fructans (cultivation/production method and/or
    cooking/preparation method?) and if so would you recommend garlic for its beneficial
    properties? Thanks for a great blog!

    • RebelLibertarian

      Garlic and onions are forbidden as they contain a toxin that increases reaction time so drastically that professional truck drivers are advised not to consume any for 3 days before driving. Plant antioxidants (phyto-“nutrients”) are generally a big scam as they’re often actually toxic (as defense mechanisms), hence your body tries to burn them off ASAP and doesn’t allow them to be absorbed much (presumably a very good thing).

      • Amy

        You should take an actual science class before making yourself sound so ignorant. Antioxidants and phytochemicals are two different things, and phytochemicals can sometimes produce antioxidants. Strictly speaking, phytochemicals are any chemicals found in plant materials such as fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.

        Antioxidants also prevent free radical damage (unpaired atoms formed with oxygen that form oxidative stress), which is why they can be burned off quickly. Hence, antioxidant pretty much means anti “oxidative stress.”

        Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants.

        Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle micronutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Additionally, selenium, a trace metal that is required for proper function of one of the body’s antioxidant enzyme systems, is sometimes included in this category. The body cannot manufacture these micronutrients so they must be supplied in the diet.

      • Ling

        Wow, where are you getting your garbage information? My brother is a truck driver and has never heard of such claims. That sounds stupid. Also phytonutrients and antioxidants are two different things. Your body us supposed to “burn off” these chemicals to destroy free radicals. Jeesh, take a science class. You sound dumb !

    • Ling

      You can eat it raw but for some people it is an irritant. Slightly cooking it as well can boost its medicinal properties.

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  • FDoverLDN

    Just to mention, not sure if it’s the same in the US as the UK, but here dinosaur kale is known as tuscan kale, or cavolo nero. I’m sure if you asked for dinosaur kale in Uk you aren’t going to get anything other than an odd look

    • fp cassini

      also known as Tuscan kale, lacinato kale, black kale, or cavolo nero. lacinato is its proper name, i believe.

  • Hey Dave, you say in this post that your kale shake is in your bulletproof chef ebook, but I don’t see it anywhere. Is it pretty much the same thing? Do I have the wrong version of the book or something?

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  • Jamie Youngblood

    “Dinosaur kale is much lower oxalate than curly kale.”
    Your reference does not support this and suggests that the opposite may in fact be true (raw v. boiled comparison):
    “A half cup of curly kale, raw, is medium oxalate (9.3 mg. oxalate), while a half cup of boiled and drained dino kale is low oxalate (3.5 mg.!). We don’t know the oxalate content of curly kale when cooked, but presumably boiling curly kale will reduce the oxalate content just as it did for the unknown variety (boiling reduced the oxalate content for the unknown variety a lot!!!). We also don’t know the oxalate content of dino kale when raw or steamed, but presumably it is higher than 3.5 mg. per half cup, possibly a lot higher.”

  • Curt

    Good points about the downsides of kale. Unfortunately, this turns the relatively inexpensive and easy-to-make kale shake into a quite expensive, time-consuming kale soup. Tasty, perhaps, and certainly nutritious, but not really a replacement.

    • Jess Rice

      I concur!

  • Sally

    When we blend kale we are breaking it down and making it easier to digest and it is no longer raw kale. When the tests you mentioned were done was it with blended kale? This is important to clarify.
    Thank you.

  • Madeleine Fulton

    When you say “Or just add pastured raw eggs,” do you mean whole eggs? Or just the yolks?

    If they are replacing the protein powder I assume you want the protein from the whites? But I have read that raw egg whites are inflammatory due to hard-to-digest proteins in their raw form.

    Thanks for any tips!

    • Rawstagirl

      Hi Madeleine. I have heard that the whole egg is best and in regards to the digestion if you take some enzymes with the eggs you probably will be fine. Or hcl(non gmo beet derived) at the end of a meal. You can even freeze your eggs then thaw them out before use to kill off the salmonella. Blessings!

      • John

        Nonono freezing does NOT kill salmonella! Sheen the mis-information around here is incredible!

  • Just tried this kale shake recipe. I could barely stomach it! I’ll definitely be leaving out the salt next time, and adding something to sweeten it up a little. Blech.!!!!

    • Jess Rice

      I’m with you! I dumped out my first batch and switched to a more traditional smoothie (frozen banana, almond milk, blueberries) with 5-minute-cooked dino kale and coco oil. It may not be THE upgrade, but it’s AN upgrade. 🙂

      • eddylu

        Are you guys using a Vitamix or Blendtec? I first made a kale shake with an Oster and it was repulsive. I bought a vitamix and now it turns out creamy smooth and warm like a nice soup.

        • Jess Rice

          Hey thanks – I used an Oster – haven’t upgraded yet. Good to know it makes a big difference!

  • RN

    I have been drinking a raw curly kale with raw spinach (organic of course) with 1/2 avocado, hemp seeds, chia seeds, 1/2 frz banana, 1/2 organic apple and coconut milk shake about 4-5 times a week for about a year now . I have experienced none of what you have referenced above. Also, ever hear of Dr. Joel Fuhrman? Just curious. He is all about raw cruciferous veggies and how beneficial they are. He also states how healthy mushrooms and other veggies are that fall low on your bulletproof diet list.

  • Lainer

    Can I steam the kale, drain the water and after the kale cools, put it in a smoothie?

    • eYeDEF

      Isn’t that what the article says to do?

  • fury_pwntage

    what about the cellulose overdose associated with eating too much leafy stuff like kale and cucumber etc. my bro tells me patients with cellulose overdose come to the hospital cuz of (he said some medical terms that il ask later) but something along the lines that they can’t get the cellulose out of their intestines and it becomes a dangerous condition.

  • jmaggief

    I have been eating raw curly kale for over a year now in salads and I do not have any problems. How long does it take for the dark side of kale to kick in. I also have never heard that some vegetables cause cancer. That sounds nonsensical.

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  • mary McKew

    i found this here to be THE PERFECT ANSWER to this post 🙂

    here is some cool info about CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTATION …

    … enjoy!

    • Acid Acid

      The soil is low in nutrients so they say eat Kale but its grown in the same soil that is low in minerals and vitamins and nutrients that the apples are that you need 6 aday of now but 50 yrs ago you needed 1a day. HOW CAN THE KALE HAVE SO MUCH NUTRIENTS IF ITS GROWN IN THE SAME DAM RUINED DIRT AS EVRYTHING ELSE IS. CAN KALE SUCK UP MINRALS FROM WHERE THERE ARE NOT ANY.

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this extremely thought-provoking article! I can relate to the comment below however from the Wizard when they said, “but im just tired of hearing how when people are eating healthy some new study comes out to tell them they’re not.” – it can be very discouraging when you’re trying your best, but I suppose that’s the lot of the progressive health journey 🙂

  • MorphingInterstices

    Thanks for this. I should have thought of the battering issue! Spot on. And well worth noting because there is a temptation to put the less desirable-looking greens in a shake and keep the primo ones for the plate. I like the ‘dinosaur’ variety too (called Tuscan cabbage in Australia), not least because it is less voluminous and leaves room in the blender without the mess made from spurting out the sides of the lid.

    I have a ketogenic green smoothie recipe on my blog involving home made raw-milk kefir. Check it out:

  • MorphingInterstices

    Oh, and I forgot to mention. I sprinkle dulce seaweed on various things at least 3-4 times a week to get the iodine back that the cruciferous vegetables I love to eat have leached. This seems to protect against the goitrogenic effects.

  • Big Daddy

    I live in a pretty rural area so the local grocers and farmers markets are limited. Is no Kale better than getting the curly Kale? Or just use something else high in the same minerals and vitamins that doesn’t have the toxins in it? If so, what should I get instead?

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  • Jeremiah

    Do you mean boil and drain the kale? If I steam it there is nothing to drain. I don’t get this part of the instruction. Do I squeeze it to drain it?

    • Frasier Linde

      You drain the steaming water…

    • Kevin

      His recommendation is based on reference number 1, which talks about boiling the kale and draining the water. Therefore, I believe he meant to write boiling, not steaming.

  • ApexGPP

    How does baking them come into effect? I make kale chips a few times a week with EVOO and some Pink Mineral salt.

    • nuritionxplorer

      Great question. I also bake (or when have access to dehydrator) dry my kale. Am completely addicted to kale chips. What – if any – nutrients lost? Bake at 200 or 190. Similarly, are the oxalates reduced in baking or dehydrating?

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  • Jim Smart

    Late to the posting, but all kale is the same species, and is also the same species as many other vegetables including broccoli, collards, and brussels sprouts. While I don’t doubt that different varieties have different nutritional aspects, they are still the same species.

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  • Owen

    Btw, dino kale doesn’t necessarily have less oxalate than curly kale:

    ‘A half cup of curly kale, raw, is medium oxalate (9.3 mg. oxalate), while a half cup of boiled and drained dino kale is low oxalate (3.5 mg)’

    But if 2/3 of the oxalate are lost after boiling then technically they probably have the same when raw!
    So wouldnt really worry too much about curly kale people as long as you cook it first. All about the details

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  • aieajames

    The top picture has Curly Kale next to a glass of a kale smoothie. I thought that the curly kale was the bad kale…

    • Daryl Smitts

      Good eye… this guy seems like a fraud.

  • Ruth Houston Barrett

    Check this out —- very informative about different greens and levels of oxalic acid:

  • Jakub Sadowski

    If Calcium binds with Oxalic Acid and neutralizes it why not just pad your Kale/Spinach green smoothie with Dandylion Leaves which are packed with Calcium? Sounds a lot simpler than all this overcomplicated boiling and whatnot…

  • Jackie RPh

    I am a pharmacist and I can’t help but notice that this article did not mention the very serious drug interaction between foods very high in vitamin k such as kale and the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin). It’s certainly ok to eat these foods but if you suddenly increase or decrease the amount you are ingesting your doctor will have to adjust your warfarin dose or you could either increase your bleeding risk or your risk of clotting. Try to keep the amounts of this type of food the same since warfarin can be so hard to get in the therapeutic range.

  • Lola

    Just seeking some clarification…
    Adding calcium carbonate to the shake should cause it to bind with the oxalic acid in kale to form a compound that will not be absorbed, but will be excreted from the body. In theory, the point of this is to prevent oxalic acid from binding minerals and vitamins in the gut, therefore keeping the minerals and vitamins naturally present in the shake bioavailable. So the added calcium carbonate supplement will in essence be wasted and excreted, but at the expense of protecting the nutrients naturally found in the food. Correct?

    Ok so if I got that correct, I have another comment.

    Calcium loading addresses the issue of nutrient bioavailability in the gut, but it fails to address the danger of oxalic acid compounds. I would think that this new compound (oxalic acid + calcium carbonate) created in the shake is still dangerous, because on its way to excretion it is still traveling through your body (i.e. kidneys).

    Calcium loading may decrease the amount of free oxalic acid ABSORBED by the gut, so perhaps it can decrease the amount of oxalic acid compounds in some tissues OUTSIDE the gut (i.e. muscles, vagina), but as far as I’m concerned, you should still avoid consuming large amounts of oxalic acid containing foods despite this calcium loading life hack, mainly because of the dangers of crystals forming (i.e. kidney stones).

    Any opinions?

  • Tania Baker

    “Oxalic acid forms in kale to protect kale from predation by animals, insects, and fungi.”

    What if one used baby kale instead? Perhaps the oxalic acid wouldn’t have enough time to form as a defense mechanism?

  • Walter

    This whole argument does seem quite spurious. Kale has one of the LOWEST amounts of oaxalates of any vegetable. The post is highly misleading, and now so many people are doing silly things to cook the kale and protect themselves from it. 1) Oaxalates are actually only a problem for a small minority of people, people who cannot effectively process them. Most people can. 2) One can deal with the issue of oaxalates simply by drinking enough water during the day so that the kidneys can be kept clean. You should be drinking plenty of water anyway. Oaxalates do not start to crystalize and create problems unless concentrations are high (not drinking enough water). 3) Oaxalates tend to only be a problem if you are eating the same oaxalate containing food every day over a long period of time. 4) Fats actually INCREASE the absorption of oaxalates (University of Wisconsin Urology Dept. 5) The issue of oaxalic acid in the creation of stones is actually a very individual thing. The prescription that everyone needs to cook their kale and add calcium is, again, highly misleading. It depends upon the person, the food (kale is one of the very LAST foods that will create this problem), the frequency of intake, and one’s consumption of water, or lack thereof. If you cook your kale (and pour out the water), you are destroying and removing valuable vitamins and phytonutrients, which CANNOT be replaced by just adding a vitamin c pill. It’s a bit disturbing how misleading this post is.

    • Daryl Smitts

      I am no expert but I felt something was amiss here… It seems like this guy just wants to promote his strange bulletproof thing. It seems like a way to “stir the pot” and get people talking and afraid… He must think it makes him look like the “savior of food”.

    • DawnmeshellRN

      Thank you for being the voice of reason here.

  • Jesse Ryan

    How much is ‘a bunch’ of kale?

  • Suzie

    Would it be a good idea to make a magnesium/calcium salad dressing for raw kale salads?

  • terrygsmith

    I read constantly, have been in gyms since 1957 (wife and I just came from there), taken supplements for decades, and have a good died. I think this was excellent information on kale and spinach. I’m glad I happened in your site. Thanks, T. Smith

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  • Daniel

    Where would wheat grass end up on the diet poster? I’ve heard lot’s of good things about it, but then again it comes from wheat. And also, if it’s healthy, is juicing it the best way of eating it? Or would that be less beneficial since you’re removing the actual plant (not that i imagine a shot of wheat grass earning the term “liquid candy”). Got the idea to add it to my kale shake as an alternative way of adding it to my diet.

  • Simon

    Dave what are your thoughts on Wheatgrass I’ve heard so much about the benefits but they seem to host mold quite often when sprouted.

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  • great tip on adding the calcium and magnesium
    I loathe the idea of having a smoothie….especially in the winter. Never been a fan of green smoothies. So I will look for the Ca/Mg powdered blend and have it in some water while I’m eating. I’ve always supplemented with magnesium….but never Ca because it always upset my tummy.

    Love this article

  • ML

    Lots of interesting insight, but I have to correct the silliness about “curly kale” . “Curly kale” is definitely NOT “just dinosaur kale that has been stressed by its environment” in fact it is often grown in the same field as dinosaur kale under the same conditions! Its just a different variety of kale! I have personally farmed kale, so I know this firsthand. Im a bit surprised so many people believed this.

  • EricEdmeades

    “That’s why my chocolate is from low-fungus crops that naturally produce less oxalic acid. I’ll get my oxalic acid – and way more antioxidants – from chocolate, not kale, thank you very much!)”

    Right. Except that your digestive system evolved to extract (and process) oxalic acid from fresh, raw plant sources and NOT from the seeds of South American plants that your DNA never evolved a relationship with. No?

    Sure, chocolate is nice. But lets not pretend that it is good for people. H sapiens never required chocolate in the past. Never evolved the ability to digest it properly. And certainly never overcame the bio-chemical defenses that they cacao plant has evolved over millions of years.

  • holisticMom

    Kale actually has a very low oxalic acid level, vs. spinach and swiss chard which are quite high. See the USDA chart of oxalic acid levels which shows the grams per 100g serving of each vegetable, kale is .02 (20 MILLIgrams per 100 grams) , while spinach is .97 (970 milligrams, almost a gram). Use the raw veggies in your smoothies that are low in oxalic acid, and steam the veggies that have higher levels to remove it (don’t drink the water that left over). This worked for me.

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  • TheJeebus

    What about magnesium citrate?

  • disqus_5SCkNVKSza

    Hi Dave, just wondering how much your wife limits dietary oxalates now? I gather when you get away from the moldy environment and go on a low-ox diet to clear the excess from your body, some people can follow a moderate oxalate diet without symptoms. Is this the case with her, and has the vulvodynia pain ever returned?

  • George Shope

    I read in a medical study a while back, that looked at Oxalic Acid and how it reacts with your muscles, and the study found that if you ingest Oxalic Acid and don’t use your muscles, it causes Muscle Atrophy, whereas if you don’t have any Oxalic Acid in your muscles as you are using them, it causes Muscle Fatigue.

    So the kicker is to NOT eat foods high in Oxalic Acid 4-to-6 hours before bedtime or relax-time, but rather, eat Oxalic Acid rich foods before you are going to be using your muscles, then your muscles are powered with the right stuff. Also, eating a bowl of Oatmeal before bedtime will help you sleep more sound and with fewer weird dreams, and you wake-up feeling great but if you eat foods high in Oxalic Acid before going to sleep, you will wake-up stiff as a board and your muscles will hurt, so stop eating foods high in Oxalic Acid before rest periods and eat foods high in Oxalic Acid just before you are going to be using your muscles, that includes peeps that are working-out.

    It’s amazing how this world’s doctors are still stuck in the 1950’s thinking that you need vitamins and calories to maintain your system, whereas what really matters is the Content of what you are eating and When you are eating it, plus, there are foods that Boys shouldn’t eat and foods that Girls shouldn’t eat, but the other gender can eat them.

    Your body is an Open System and sticking vitamins and the likes into it is Complicating that Open System and the end result is Entropy, which Entropy is Death to that Open System.

    Eat logically, Live logically, and Love logically, and you can beat old age; you can even beat Death. They are the foundation to Great Health; logically speaking.

    Ribbit 🙂

  • Good grief. I never even heard of oxalic acid before. The more I try to be healthy, the more It looks like I need to be a friggin’ scientist just to know what’s for supper. And why doesn’t the author respond to anyone?

  • disqus_rpB6j9qGRq

    “I suspect they used… San Pellegrino.” Yeah, that’s one kind of French mineral water… From Italy…

    You sound well informed.

  • Carlos Simmerling

    I don’t understand how you can mechanically damage protein. It gets hydrolyzed in the gut anyway, and broken down to amino acids. After all your body needs to make human proteins, it doesn’t need meat/egg/whey proteins.