• Juan Bola, nutritionist and technician of Physical and Sports Activities: "There is an interest in not eating meat"
  • Núria Coll, specialist in healthy eating: "We are always on a diet because weight obsesses us too much"

"I am a survivor of oxalate overload. For much of my life I have unknowingly consumed excessive amounts." Thus begins the groundbreaking story of Sally K. Norton (Syracuse, New York, United States, March 10, 1964) in Toxic Superfoods (Encourages Editorial).

Despite having a bachelor's degree in nutrition from Cornell University and a master's degree in public health management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she had to relearn how to force-eat because of her personal ordeal. He abandoned veganism and smoothies, which he blames for his low bone density (osteopenia) and kidney stones. "The modern diet is making us sick," he says emphatically, relating foods that anyone would classify as healthy with problems such as pain, bad digestion, lack of energy or depression. "Potatoes, peanuts, raspberries and even superfoods such as spinach naturally contain huge amounts of ignored toxins: oxalic acid, oxalate salts and oxalate crystals," he says. "They are toxic and consuming them is harmful to health."

To write this book he has relied on scientific data, studies of medical journals exposed in heavy volumes that, he explains, he has "carried up and down stairs to the library scanner so you don't have to do it." And it is even documented with true stories of patients whose lives have changed.

That is why the lack of knowledge about the subject in the tangle of nutritional information on the internet is so surprising. Why is it "risky" to be modern when choosing the menu? How is the immense variety of symptoms possible? Am I poisoning myself with my morning smoothie? But even Popeye took spinach to have energy and win the bad guy! Norton understands that everything in his book, translated for the first time into a language other than English, causes so much controversy. "The Chinese, Vietnamese, German and Polish versions will be coming soon. And they ask me a lot in France," she says proudly of her revolution, which she describes as "necessary".

The American Sally K. Norton advocates a diet low in oxalates to improve health. EM


The first point is very clear. In a world with so many problems of obesity, sedentary lifestyle and cardiovascular diseases, should we declare war on the green leaf? "Absolutely, because if you're convinced that spinach can't be bad, you take it without limits. It is difficult to relate physical pain or anxiety to diet although they are very connected, "he says. "I myself ate sweet potatoes, blackberry and quinoa every day and I realized that something in my body was not working and I felt worse, without encouragement." A suffering, he describes, that not even the doctors could see.

In addition to his example, he gives the example of well-known personalities to highlight the chronic damage caused by oxalate consumed for decades. "Actor Liam Hemsworth publicly blamed spinach smoothies for an episode of kidney stones he suffered in 2019 that required surgery." In fact, in Men's Health magazine the Australian said that he considered super healthy his green handful added to almond milk, peanut butter and vegan proteins, until a kidney stone prevented him from attending the premiere of a movie and required surgery. "The role of speaker of these well-known figures about the erroneous detox cleansing is very important," warns Norton, who encourages all the videos of influencer shakes that flood the networks and praises the model and presenter Jorge Fernández to know his case with heavy metals and fish. "In America, coach Tony Robbins took a lot of emperor and they came to think that his wife was poisoning him from the high toxicity that his body had."

View this post on Instagram

The disturbing thing about the message is that if we already know how bad ultra-processed foods are and real food intoxicates us, how do we eat? "The role of nutritionists is not to create confusion. I'm not saying don't eat vegetables, but if you know you can't abuse industrial buns without having to look closely at a label because they're junk food, the same goes for foods with oxalates: they should be treated as toxins. Antibiotics come out of plants."

He wanted to include 100 pages with the blacklist and tables with the exact amount (250 mg a day maximum so that the body can eliminate it without forming stones in areas such as the eyes) but it should be simpler: "Change spinach, red chard and beets for iceberg or romaine lettuce and other cabbages, return to traditions and do not avoid animal food." In fact, after living her experience as a vegan and regardless of ethical considerations, she considers that it is dangerous for pregnant women: "The yolk of the egg, for example, has many nutrients, so if you want your child to be smart, that food should be in the diet, "she smiles. Remember that in Italy, even by legal means, it is taken into account that children should not be fed by their parents with a vegan diet. "You can be healthy if you lack nutrients or eat chips. If you base your food on plants you need extra calcium, as there is a higher risk of weak bones. But also of sarcopenia (decreased muscle mass) and mental illness."


View this post on Instagram

It is especially critical of vegetable drinks, "water with crushed almonds", for example, which do not contribute much. "By crushing oxalates, our body assimilates them better," he warns. The same goes for smoothies: "Chia seeds are horrible for your colon, but you'd never think there's toxins in a vegetable because we have a pro-plant mentality."

If people can't assimilate such a resounding criticism of something they've been hearing all their lives, in part, it's because nutrition seems to move by currents or fashions, we ask Norton. From demonizing fats to praising them (they don't carry oxalates either, by the way). "We don't know how toxins behave in the body because research is decided according to available funds, and oxalates are known to be there defending plants, but they don't matter. Now we are focused on other problems such as diabetes, cancer or the microbiota and that is where more money is being put." And he draws attention to how eating so many vegetables we feel so bad: "Now there is a lot of arthritis, osteoporosis and osteopenia, which I suffered at 48 years old. We have a lot of dependence on anxiolytics and live inflamed. All this has not improved by eating a lot of spinach," he says with a certain sarcasm.

It highlights that certain metabolic alterations could be enhanced by the damage caused by oxalate. That is why it calls for awareness and better food decisions. "Start the day with protein instead of carbohydrates so as not to trigger insulin spikes and take the time to eat restfully, as you do in Europe. We run down the street with fast food and even in the car," he admits of the Americans.

In the book he questions all diets, even the Mediterranean, in which experts usually agree describing it as very healthy. "We talk about it in an artificial way, because it mixes many countries and in all of them you don't eat the same." He does acknowledge a common ground: "Fish, lamb, dairy and olive oil, but there is also a lot of marketing and interests of this industry. They went to Harvard with ideal bottles where they sold the benefits of their Greek oil but there is no very clear definition. It's an idea created as if drinking cups and cups of oil is going to be very healthy," he reflects.

In short, according to Norton, nobody knows why we talk so much about all this and so little about oxalates, present even in rainwater. "They've always been surrounding us and it's amazing how science doesn't pay attention or resources to it." It happened to her and she was sent to the psychiatrist. With his research he intends that it does not happen to anyone else. "They have to be aware. This is not overnight. Detoxing for years takes time."

  • HBPR
  • nutrition
  • Feeding