One of the most frequently asked questions is “When will they study oxalate in new foods?” Well today’s your lucky day, there’s new oxalate research and it’s all about dairy-free milks!
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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: Hey, Jeff.
Jeff Sarris: Hi Jill!
Jill Harris: Hi everybody! I’m Jill Harris. Not Sarris, Harris.
Jeff Sarris: Jeff Sarris, Jill Harris.
Jill Harris: Yes, and I’m your kidney stone prevention nurse. And I’m happy that you are watching this video so you can get educated on kidney stone prevention.
Jeff Sarris: And your shirt says it, too.
Jill Harris: Oh yeah, it does! Yeah, it’s bright and happy. I’m wearing it because I’ve been under the weather, so I thought it would cheer me up. Somebody gave it to me for my birthday.
Jeff Sarris: And happy birthday! Happy belated birthday.
Jill Harris: Thank you. I’m happy to have one. So whenever somebody says, “I can’t believe how old I’m getting.” I’m like, “Honey, what is the alternative? Enjoy it! Enjoy having a birthday.” It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to get to get up, take a breath, and be happy. Now that don’t mean I’m happy every day, people, okay? But I try my best. I try my best to find joy. I think I’m pretty good at that in life.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I think so too. And yeah, birthdays are a good moment to reflect as well and just see like, “Where am I?” And to maybe bring us back to, like, our center and the present, and sort of realize like how much we’re grateful for and things, because yeah, every year is another year of opportunity.
Jill Harris: Oh, my God, I really–and I know you believe that too, Jeff–I mean, I’m such a believer in that. It is a great moment in time to say, “Okay, how was my last year? What could I have done better? What did I do really well, and I’m grateful for? What am I proud of because we have to acknowledge what we’ve done well, too? And what would I like to improve on as a human being going forward?” You know, I think that’s really important. I mean, why else do we get up every day? You know, I know somebody pretty close to me, and I’ll ask her, “How are you?” “Eh, same shit. Different day.” I don’t know about that saying. Well, if you have that attitude, that’s what was gonna be right. So what we think, we become.
So let’s think a little better. We can think better than that, right? I don’t like that. And she knows I don’t like it. She’s like, “I know, I shouldn’t say it.” Well, it’s not about you shouldn’t say it. It’s about just rethinking it because what we think and what we say to ourselves every single day, we wind up becoming that person. Are you happy with what you’re saying? Are you happy with what you’ve become? You know, it’s as simple as that. And if you’re not, God knows you have the power to change it. Everybody here has the power to change anything they want to put the time and commitment to, but you have to want to change. You have to get your mind set up straight.
That’s what diet changes, too. People who say, “I know I should do that. Oh, God, I know.” They’re not going to change because they’re saying they should; they need to. That’s not somebody who’s looking forward to change. Change is hard. There’s no doubt about it. Sometimes you have to fake it before you make it, too. But if you just get committed emotionally, then it’s time to make a change. So for example, this podcast, you don’t make another kidney stone. Maybe you’re like, “Eh, that girl and her happy shirt, she’s annoying. But Jeff, I love him. But God, she talks a lot. And so they’re like, but let me listen to her because I want to make a change. And I know she’s got the right information.” And that’s a start, right? I mean, we’ve got to start somewhere. Change is not easy. What we’re asking people to do, take care of your health, pay attention to how you nourish your body, move it here and there. It takes time, and it takes commitment, and it takes consistency.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely. Yeah, and anything in life worth doing generally isn’t easy. So I mean, this is something that’s so important to, to take control, like the control that we have, because so much is out of our control, but to do what we can to to live a better life.
Jill Harris: Yes, yes. I think that’s very important. I don’t feel well because I’ve had a surgery, okay? So I can’t move as much as I want to, but you’re darn right I can eat well. I can at least control that. That I can control, okay? Sometimes life throws us into places we do not want to be, and it’s terrible, and it’s scary, and it’s all of that. But what can we do? So I’m always looking at that. What can I do? It’s real easy to have a pile of doo doo come on you. And then you’re like, “Okay, well forget it. I’m not gonna do nothing.” I don’t like that. I want to take some kind of control back, so I can at least know I’m doing my part to get out of the pile of doodoo as possible. You could tell we don’t rehearse these, can’t ya? I mean, I don’t know about that, but–
Jeff Sarris: I don’t know. Pile of doodoo sounds pretty on point.
Jill Harris: Yeah, well, and it’s true, right? So, it’s true!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, definitely. Well, this week, we are diving into a frequently asked question around oxalate and dairy-free milk just because it’s such a challenge. People are looking to get their calcium, but they may be dairy-free for various reasons over the years: a personal preference or lactose intolerance. So, Jill, what sort of knowledge and advice can you impart on us today around oxalate and dairy-free milks?
Jill Harris: Yes, great question. So, you know, many people come to me throughout the day, and we talk about the Kidney Stone Diet, they’ll hand me their urine analysis, and we go over everything. On average, most Americans get between 200 – 250 milligrams of calcium. They ain’t trying to. It’s just happenstance from the foods they’re eating, okay? Because there’s a little bit of calcium in a lot of vegetables and a lot of things, okay? And so when I start talking to them about calcium, they’re like, “I don’t drink milk. I don’t want milk. I don’t do dairy.” I never said you have to do dairy, did I? No! You don’t have to do dairy. Wonderful, wonderful plant milks exist, and this is amazing because they’re relatively new.
So, you know, what we buy, the food manufacturers make. So I think I’m in milk pretty much–well, soy milk started this whole ballgame off many years ago, okay? There’s always people that were drinking soy milk, and then more nut milk came into vogue And then it was almond milk, almond milk, almond milk. And so many of my stone formers say, “Jill, I was drinking so much almond milk. Well, I’m a vegan, and there’s calcium in almond milk, so I was just drinking it, drinking it, drinking it.” And so they got extra oxalate from doing that. Now, how much is going to be today’s topic. Recently, there was a study from a couple docs I know too, I’m happy. I’m happy. I know a few of these guys, and I trust them, so I like that they did this because a lot of patients asked for it. What they did–first of all, our graphic designer made a beautiful, beautiful infographic and you can go to, Jeff, go ahead.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it’s just kidneystonediet.com/oxalate-content-of-plant-based-milk. It’s actually a more complex URL, but if you just go to the blog, you’ll see it as one of the recent posts. And I have it up on the screen right now, so you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Oxalate Content of Plant-Based Milk
Jill Harris: Yeah, it’s called “Oxalate Content of Plant-Based Milk.” And they researched 1,2,3–I don’t know about 10. I’m not gonna sit here and count them, but about 10 different plant milks. And so what we did is we took the sodium, the calcium, the pota–what they did was they listed all these things for each product, sodium, potassium, calcium, and about how much oxalate is in each of these products, okay? They did a really great job. They researched Silk almond milk, some cashew milk, some hazelnut milk, soy milk, Oatly, Milkdamia, rice, all kinds of ones. So you can see which is the best bang for your buck as far as oxalate, as far as sodium, and as far as calcium.
And almond milk is the highest one, but, look, on the almond milk that they studied–there’s millions of different almond milks, people, they didn’t study every one. They gave you the brand that they studied, and here’s what they found. So, you will look at this infographic and you’ll say, “Okay, I love almond milk. They say there’s anywhere between 27 to only 0.49 milligrams of oxalate in it, so I might want to have a glass of it here and there because it’s not really high. If I get 100 milligrams of oxalate a day–if your doctor has told you otherwise, please adhere to their orders–but for most people, they can safely have 100 milligrams of oxalate a day.
You can see actually, that you can drink some almond milk here and there, at least this brand. But I understand let’s just say if I was a stone farmer, and I have kidney stone formers in my family, and I do not want one, I wouldn’t drink the almond milk just because I think I’d rather get my oxalate somewhere else in food that I really loved instead of wasting it on almond milk. When I can drink something like, you know, the flaxmill, or the oat milk, I mean, they have a lot less oxalate, so why wouldn’t you just opt for that?
Jeff Sarris: Have you had Oatly, that oat milk? I recently tried it because I haven’t had oats or oatmeal in a long time. I just don’t have grains. That’s just not part of my lifestyle and diet. It is so good.
Jill Harris: I know people love it.
Jeff Sarris: I was shocked because yeah, it has that thickness and richness to it. But again, I was thinking about this exact thing. I was like, “How much oxalate is in oats and oatmeal and like, what am I getting out of this that I don’t actually want?” So, this is awesome that they did this. Like this is the new oxalate research, like everyone’s always asking, “When will they do new foods?” So this is awesome to see it happening right now.
Jill Harris: Yes, it is. And I love it too because people always say, you know, “Why, why? Why do we have such disparaging, you know, oxalate values?” Well, depending on the researchers, but depending upon where the plant was growing, the soil conditions, all of that, actually, it’s really tricky to study. And also, with things like cancer and obesity, and chronic kidney disease and all the other things, I think kidney stones just get pushed aside. I just think there’s just not money that’s given to it. I don’t know if people are saying, “Hey, we want to do this” and ahh! I just think it’s on the lower end of the totem pole. I really do, unfortunately.
So it is thrilling, which tells me I need to get a little bit of a life, but it is thrilling for me to see new research being done. And for patients to get some kind of solace and hope that hopefully more will be done. So, you can also see some people have given up soy milk. And some of you will say, “Well, I don’t want to drink it for other reasons.” Which is fine. I’m not advocating you drink any of these things. I’m just saying–Jeff and I are saying–that studies have been done and here’s some facts for you to go on. The Oatly milk, yes, people love it. I think it would probably be more calories than I want to consume in my drink. You know what I’m saying? I’d rather use my calories elsewhere, but people love the Oatly. And, again, back to soy milk, people think “Oh, well, soy is high in oxalate.”
Again, it’s a portion thing. This soy milk is not very high in oxalate at all, if it’s something you enjoy. The point is, though, you do want to get your calcium needs met, and these milks have calcium added to them to help vegans and vegetarians actually get some more calcium into their diet because they do not eat dairy, okay? So, and then I’m just going to answer this real quickly. I don’t want to get a long thing because it’s a very common question and I think we already did a video on it, but maybe we didn’t. “Calcium: why not the pill, but we can have it in milk?” It’s still a supplement. It’s already broken down. It’s easier to digest for us, instead of the pill, so that’s why. So, if you’re a vegan, if you’re a vegetarian, if you cannot tolerate lactose, there are lactose-free milks, obviously.
Turn It Around, Buster Brown – Check Your Labels!
But if you want to do a plant-based milk, this study is wonderful, and you can see now which food manufacturer beverage you can safely add to your diet to make sure your oxalate level is not raised, but you do get enough calcium. One of the things I would look at if I were having a plant-based milk, which I do the coconut unsweetened coconut milk sometimes–a lot of times–I will look at the calcium. Because a lot of these milks ain’t gonna have a lot of calcium. So make sure–turn it around, Buster Brown, and look at your label. Is there extra sodium in some of these products? Some of these non-dairy milks will have higher sodium levels.
So, again, you want to look and compare labels to see what is the best bang for your buck: calcium, oxalate, sodium. They also listed potassium here and I’m assuming that as for CKD patients who sometimes they want to monitor their potassium, so that’s listed on here as well. So it’s a great study. I suggest people take a looksie and figure out the best plant-based milk for you. If you can tolerate dairy and you enjoy dairy, I drink lactose-free milk, have it! There’s more protein in that, non-meat protein for you.
There will be very little protein in these nut milks here most likely, so that’s another thing depending on what you’re doing with your diet. So you can see that when you’re first looking at nutrition labels–Jeff’s like, “We ain’t talking about that, Jill!” I know, but I just want to say this. Sometimes it takes a few seconds to look at a nutrition label because you’re looking for several things. If you’re a CKD patient, you’re like, “Oh, is there too much potassium? Is there too much phosphorus? Is there…?” You know, it’s all a lot, but once you get your favorite products down, it’s a lot easier. You just have to put some time in at first to get the results in a little bit, okay?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, absolutely! I mean, that’s all great information. Like, I never try to rush you in any way because there’s so much to this.
Jill Harris: Oh, my God, Jeff! There’s so much!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I know you always joke that I’m like, “Yeah, move it along.” But yeah, never, because it’s just a never-ending rabbit hole to truly understand this space in a way that people can really walk away from the show and have a better outlook on their stone risk in the future. Which, that’s the whole reason we’re here. We just want to help people as much as we can, with as much free content as we can, because this is something just not talked about enough.
Jill Harris: Yes, and people are like, “How do you do this for all these years?” Because, first of all, every single person I talk to is different, so that’s fascinating to me. Everybody has different habits, and I want to learn about them, so I can help them better. And also, there’s always new information, and there’s so much information. So when people come to me, and they’re like, “I’m confused.” I’m like, “Of course you are!” Everyone’s confused about nutrition. Everyone’s confused on how to lose weight. Everyone’s confused on all the stuff that’s thrown on them, and then not explained how to do it. You’re darn right you’re overwhelmed and confused.
I love my job so much, because I get to say, “It’s gonna be okay, I promise. We’re gonna go through everything, and you’re gonna so understand what to do now.” So one hour, or one course, and you’re done, man! It’s not like, you know, each patient I work with is spending thousands of dollars with me. I push it in there specifically to who I’m talking to that everyone–you could ask any patient I’ve ever worked with. “Oh, yeah, I got what I needed, and more.” That’s a guarantee.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely. I mean, and, on that note, you can find all those resources, and the course, and the meal plans, and everything that Jill has on offer at kidneystonediet.com. While you’re there, you can subscribe to the email newsletter where every Saturday, Jill is sending out an email newsletter to help you sort of just stay on course and move further along on the journey to where you want to be. Because we all want to be just a little bit healthier, a little bit more vibrant in our lives.
Jill Harris: Yes, energy!
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely! Yeah, it’s so important. I mean, that is like everything. So again, we appreciate you listening to the show, and if you have any questions, the phone number is 773-789-8763. We’ll definitely be featuring your question on a future episode of the show. We are all caught up on those questions, so call in. We’re excited to hear from you–because you’re talking to people everyday in-person, on the Facebook group and everything. But we know sometimes it’s different to have your voice projected onto a show or onto YouTube onto a podcast and everything, but we really appreciate everyone who does call in and if that’s your thing, we’d love to have you on the show.
Jill Harris: Yeah, and I’d love to meet you! I love when people call in because I get to hear–we get to hear real-life people. It’s a lot of fun, and then you become part of it. Again, we’re always trying to foster a community here, so also be active in the comments. I love seeing comments. I love when people ask questions in the comments. Also, if you can do us a favor, we always ask, but for some reason–I’m very good people. I like a lot of decorating YouTube. I like a lot of fitness YouTube. Whenever I like somebody and I trust them, I’d give them a subscribe way before I had a YouTube channel because it helps you in the ratings. So do me a favor, and press the “Subscribe” button and click the bell if you want to do that, too. It all helps us grow in the ratings. Jeff and I really appreciate that. It helps us so much. Thank you!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, we just want to reach as many people as we can. So, every little bit helps: that little thumbs up, and bell, and subscription. It feels like nothing, but it means something for sure. So, thanks to everyone who’s already subscribed and enjoying the show and we will see you next week.
Jill Harris: Bye, friends!
I understand it may not matter all that much since almond is simply a high oxalate food, but I sincerely wished they/someone would test the Blue Diamond brand that makes Almond Breeze. Everyone jokes there’s only the ghost of an almond per carton (which in this case would be great actually), and it tastes far superior to Silk. Of all the dairy alternative milks on the market, it’s the one that tastes the most neutral or most similar to dairy. Therefore being my family’s go to choice for recipes. Not for nutrition. But for recipes. I’m torn on if I actually have to give it up.