This week, Jill answers a listener question about getting enough calcium with a dairy allergy.
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Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
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Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: That’s perfect. I like it. You boopin’ the screen? I like it. So, what do you say? Should we just dive in this week?
Jill Harris: We’ll reward some audience members who get so sick of waiting for two minutes to pass by. Yes, let’s just go. Right to it, baby! Let’s go, baby!
Jeff Sarris: Here we go. Okay, this is from Steve.
Listener Voicemail: I have questions about oxalate and calcium. I have an allergy to dairy, which is my big problem, and I have had kidney stones. And so I’m just trying really hard to learn what I need to know. So I would appreciate connecting with you. Thank you.
16 non-dairy sources of calcium
Jill Harris: Oh, Steve, that’s a great question. So, Steve is saying, “Look, old lady, I have a dairy allergy. I know you’re barking at me to get some calcium every day. How am I supposed to do that?” Well, thankfully, there’s a lot of non-dairy ways to get calcium these days. There are! So, first of all, as always, I’m going to tell you to go to my blog because, you know, you can read about it. But I just want to pull something up here, kidneystonediet.com. And if you go to the blog, I want you to see there is an article and it’s called “Non-dairy sources of calcium.”
Even if you don’t want to go there, you just Google “non-dairy calcium sources” and “Jill,” and then you can read all the things that you can get calcium from that are not dairy, non-dairy sources of calcium. So we have here, on the blog, kidneystonediet.com, sixteen non-dairy calcium sources for kidney stone formers, and I don’t remember them offhand because I’m 117 years old, so I’m going to read them to you. There’s orange juice, orange juice. That’s high in sugar, even though it’s not added sugar. Do you really want 27-30 grams of sugar in an orange juice class?
Get the 50/50 Tropicana. They reduce the sugar in it. That’s a good non-dairy calcium source.You can get canned sardines. Believe it or not, people, some people like that. God bless, not me. I don’t like those sardines. They have little–I don’t like little fish in a can, but I do have–
Jeff Sarris: That is something I eat.
Jill Harris: You would! God bless you!
Jeff Sarris: I knew you’d think that!
Jill Harris: They are a good source of calcium, but they’re very salty, people, so you want to get the low-sodium sardines. So, there’s that. They have calcium in them. Canned pink salmon, with bones. Calcium is in bones! And, also, that’s why you need calcium. Forget about kidney stones, you have bones! You need to feed them. So, salmon, in a can, with the bones, will be a nice calcium source. There are fortified cereals, like Cheerios, that are low oxalate, and also you’ll get some calcium in there. You’ll get about 130 milligrams per 3/4 of a cup. Broccoli has 43 milligrams of calcium for some blah, blah, blah.
Peas, Chinese cabbage–so you’re going to see I have here, those non-dairy calcium sources plus they’re lower in oxalate, so you don’t even have to worry about all that stuff. Low oxalate, non-calcium sources. Go to kidneystonediet.com, the blog and you’re going to see it’s called “16 non-dairy calcium sources for kidney stone formers.”
The other thing that you can get is we have some alternative milks that have been recently studied for their oxalate content. That is also on kidneystonediet.com/blog. I think it’s oxalate content of plant milks. Some prominent nephrologists have done some research, and they listed that research, and we have a beautiful little article on that. So you can see that there’s other sources of non-dairy ways to get it. And those are supplemented. People say, “Well, you say don’t take supplements. So why can’t we take it from the milk?” Well, it’s, you know, it’s in a food source, right? So, supplements, in general, we don’t absorb those so great, people.
How much calcium does a kidney stone-former need?
If you’re somebody that must take a pill supplement, we say, go ahead, you can take it, but that’s subpar. But if you do have to take it for various reasons, there are a lot of bariatric or malabsorption–patients that have malabsorption–that must take calcium supplements. Take it with a meal. Not one cracker, a meal. They’re not absorbed that well, so we want to make sure there’s that. So many of my patients are on the plant milks, they’re absorbing the calcium. It’s not winding up in their urine because I see the urine collections. So, the plant milks seem to be fine. We’re not worried about it. It’s very easy, if you have a couple cups or a few half a cups, a cup and a half of those plant-sourced milks, you’re getting your calcium needs met not a problem.
It just doesn’t take much to get it, if you’re doing it that way. Men and women who still get their periods need up to 1000 milligrams of calcium a day. Postmenopausal woman up to 1200 milligrams of calcium a day. More is not better. Get up to your needs. You don’t have to do more than that because, typically, when we find out a goal, we always think more is better. Let’s get extra. Well, we don’t absorb calcium that great. So, just get up to. Even if you’re getting 800-1000, fine. Some people say, “Well, that 1200, that’s a lot!” It’s a lot to you because you never paid attention to calcium before.
Educate yourself about calcium
So when you’re first starting this, it can seem overwhelming. But, once you know the right sources and where to get your calcium needs met, it’s so not hard, honestly, especially if you can use dairy. So, kidneystonediet.com for a great couple of articles. There’s plant-based calcium sources, and then the plant milk sources, they’re there. They’re listed. They’re all low oxalate options. So take a look at that. Plenty of ways to get calcium. I want to remind you guys that you also have a skeleton. It always kills me that we really don’t talk about calcium in our healthcare system, until we wind up with bone disease or a kidney stone. Then, all of a sudden, somebody’s like, “Oh, by the way, for the last 40 years, have you gotten any calcium?”
It’s just something that’s not brought up as prevention to get things. So, you know, it’s a shock when people start figuring out how do I get calcium? PhDs, very smart people coming to me, they have no idea how to get calcium because it hasn’t been talked about forever. And, like Steve, they may have an allergy or they don’t want to eat animal products for many different reasons, they can’t do dairy. So, now what are they supposed to do? When you have the right information. It’s not hard. It’s when we don’t know what we don’t know that things are hard. So this show is about having you understand, this is the way you do this, this is the way you do that, and then you know.
Education is power. When you know, then you can get your control back. Then you can start calming down and you can start putting this together day-by-day. And it’s not that hard once you do it, once you get the information, then put it into practice, and then that magical word: “practice, practice, practice for the rest of your life.” It’s not a quick nothing. You’re practicing a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life. Don’t let the diet industry tell you otherwise. It’s not quick and easy. It’s not going to happen in three months. It’s not going to be rapid anything.
You get the information. Don’t just collect information, too. It doesn’t do anything for you until you put it into practice. Practice, you take action, and then you practice for the rest of your life. Enjoy foods, have birthdays, Christmas just passed. You had your holiday fare. Get right back to work. Nobody cares. It’s what we do on a day-by-day basis. If you have something that is higher in calories or junk food, nobody cares. Enjoy it. Get back to work. That’s how we roll here at kidneystonediet.com
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, we’re investing in ourselves a little bit every day. It’s not exciting, but it shouldn’t be. It’s not that quick fix, one pill changes everything kind of approach. This is just over time. It’s hard to see over time, too, at times. It’s hard to perceive what we’re doing for or against our bodies. But it’s so important! This is all we got. This is all we have, so I want to take the best care of it as we can.
Jill Harris: Yeah, I always say if we were walking around and our organs were, you know, hanging around, and we really saw what they look like over time, we would make better choices. I think it’s because, you know, chronic illness is what’s crippling our healthcare system, with the trillions of dollars that’s spent on diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease, you know, things like that, right? Cardiovascular disease, these are diseases typically that aren’t going to kill you right away. It’s gonna be long-term maintenance and management of them. So it costs trillions of dollars to keep people well.
If we just really started at home, and we just–which doesn’t cost a lot. And I know people will say, “Well, healthy food is more expensive.” It is! It is more expensive and that’s a travesty. We could put a whole ‘nother podcast for that. But eating just better. You don’t have to buy friggin’ organic. You don’t have to buy “Kissed-by-baby-Jesus-broccoli.” Just get some friggin’ broccoli! If you don’t have extra money to buy organic, I don’t care about that. You all have different wallets. Choose the healthiest food that fits into your budget. Don’t be dissuaded or persuaded. Don’t be put off by people who say you must do organic otherwise it’s not good.
Come on. Come on! What are people who don’t have the money to pay $1 more for extra? I’m gonna tell you right now, I’m not paying extra for an organic friggin’ avocado with $15 an avocado. It ain’t that much. I’m exaggerating. I know, but I’m not doing it! It has a shell on it. I don’t care. I mean, come on. The point is we want people to eat healthier, healthiest, I don’t even know what that means. Healthier, better than you were. That’s what we aim for here. Better than you were. And, guess what? There’s no perfect at the end of the line. So stop buying into that crap. You are better. You are working and striving for better.
Are you going to be perfect? No. I’m thrilled to hear that. You know why? Because you’d be so boring! Nobody would want to hang around you if you were perfect. I’m not perfect. Also, there’s never a time where we don’t have something to learn. If you think you’re done learning, then that means you’re done growing. And that’s a sad life. I’m always trying to learn more stuff. I know nothing compared to what I need to learn. And I take that as like, “Wow, I get to learn this, this, and this.” I was telling Jeff, every year I take some kind of new coaching course. Last year, I became a personal trainer, taking that course to get certified. Why? Because am I going to do anything with personal training? Probably not. But I just I love it. So why not get certified? Why not learn all this stuff? I don’t know.
I’m always watching YouTube to learn more stuff about that. Or how there’s always something new with diet. There’s always something new with exercise. There’s always new ways to coach people. I’m registered right now for an elite mastery coaching program so I can be better. Am I the best? Hell no. And that would be so boring because I would have nothing to learn. I would have no reason to grow. I don’t even know what that life is. Life is to live, people. How many TV hours can you watch? So learn something new!
I’m so glad you’re here with us on this YouTube channel because that means you’re in the game. If you’re in the game, you could get control back and just learn step by step all the things we’re asking. So, Steve, with your dairy allergy, there’s plenty of calcium sources you can get. And go to kidneystonediet.com/blog and read those articles. All the articles at kidneystonediet.com are very short and sweet. The information you need. Also, this YouTube channel, Spotify, Audible, Apple, you name it. We’re all over the place. Go check us out.
Jeff Sarris: It’s so important! For me, that sort of the growth, like you’re saying, like constantly growing and progressing throughout life, that’s the meaning of life. It’s grandiose, but, for me, that’s why I’m here is to try and become the best version of me that I can in the limited time I have here. And I think it’s just so valuable and I want to say it’s rewarding when we feel that and I think that’s so important. I love that you do that every year, that you pick something that pushes your boundaries. We could just sit on the couch and watch TV all day. Like, that’s one choice, but are we getting out of that what we want? Maybe for some, but not for me, not for you. I know, like we want, we want more. We want to chisel this stone into the sculpture that we want to be.
Jill Harris: Well, and I think it’s so important–when I showed up for one of the group calls for that coaching program, the guy is like, “What are you doing here? You’ve been doing this for almost 25 years! Double the time I’ve been doing it!” And I’m like, because I’ve been listening to your podcast, and you always have these little golden nuggets that makes me think about something in a different way. And in order to be the most effective coach, in teaching people about the Kidney Stone Diet, or nutrition in general, losing weight, then it keeps me on my game. It keeps me fresh. It keeps me engrossed. It keeps me passionate. It keeps me compassionate. It keeps me all the things. It keeps my energy up.
Otherwise, I could be really stale. And then, again, my whole mission in life is to be able to take my heart, and all the beautiful things I get in my life from people, and support, and love and just beautiful cardinals, whatever brings me joy, get it for myself, so I can give it out to the world. That’s what it’s all supposed to be about. So if I don’t give myself a new education, or a better way of looking at something or whatever, then I can’t give it out. So, it keeps me fresh. It keeps me from going, “God, I’ve been doing this for 24 years!” I never feel that way because I’m always seeking new ways to talk about something.
I can’t hit every person in the world. We’re all so very different. So you should be always looking at your message and seeing, “Am I saying this in a way that can get more people interested, more people engrossed in their health? Am I just meeting one little sector of people? I want to get to a lot of people, so they understand that they should never take their body for granted. And that you know, how you eat and how you move your body is very important. But the bigger message is never to be thinking you’re going to be perfect at this. None of us are.
So I guess, today, I’m gonna leave this podcast–thank you, Steve, for this dairy allergy question–but what new ways this year, since it’s the beginning of the year, what new things can you do for yourself this year, to keep yourself in the game? To make yourself a better you? It doesn’t have to be taking the Kidney Stone Prevention Course. It doesn’t have to be anything for kidney stones. It could be how to communicate better with your partner, how to be better at your job, whatever you want to–how to communicate better as a parent. To me, it’s always communication because what else is there in the world in how to communicate your feelings or message, right? So that’s always very important to me.
But it’s like, you know, how can you push yourself to do something differently than you’ve ever done before in a way that you’ve never done before? So you can matter more to the people around you and yourself? You know, so I don’t know. That’s way away from Steve and dairy allergies, but we really try to bring messages on how we can live a better life in general here. And what we’re striving for is better, not best, better. There’s always room for an improvement. And if that doesn’t excite you, I want you to re-examine that because it should. That should be something new and fresh and it should excite you. Not “uh….” It should excite you. How can you be better than yesterday? That’s it. That’s my message.
Jeff Sarris: I think that’s the perfect message to wrap on. And thanks again, Steve, for the question. Anyone out there with another question, we’d love to have you on the episode in the future and the number is 773-789-8763. You can find all of the references that Jill mentioned at kidneystonediet.com. If you’re watching, you saw the posts that you’re looking for right on the screen. If you’re just listening, you can find everything at kidneystonediet.com/blog. Everything is right there.
We really appreciate each and every one of you. Hope you had a great holiday season. We’re already in 2023, which doesn’t make any sense for my brain. I just can’t–that feels fake. It doesn’t seem real at all. Just hope everyone had a great holiday season and we’re ready to kick off this year right because I know Jill and I both are. We’re excited for everything that’s to come, both here and personally within our non-Kidney Stone Diet lives as well.
Jill Harris: Absolutely! I’m just praying for everybody the healthiest, absolute healthiest year you can have. The best “you” you can make. That what we’re doing here this year, right? The best “you” you can make. Let’s go, baby. Let’s go!
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely. We will see you all next week!
Jill Harris: Thanks, Steve!