Thursday, July 16, 2015

Is Kale Making You Sick?

Around where I live whenever you go to a non-Asian restaurant you will see people scarfing down massive quantities of a cruciferous vegetable called kale.

Kale is all the rage these days. Apparently, it is a miracle food; it does so many good things that if you eat lots and lots of it you will attain to something like immortality… or at least, superior health.

Kale has become quite the national fad. Todd Oppenheimer reports about it  on a website called Craftsmanship. The story was also picked up by Mother Jones… not an organ of the vast right wing conspiracy, incidentally.

Oppenheimer attests to kale’s growing popularity:

In 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, kale was harvested on 954 farms across the country. By 2012, that figure had more than doubled, to roughly 2,500 growers. In the last five years, the number of restaurants serving kale has reportedly risen by some 400 percent. People are juicing it, cooking it, eating kale salads, even making chips and other foodoid products from this hearty plant.

As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Those of us who do not follow food fads can now feel somewhat vindicated for not eating all of those foul-tasting leaves.

It turns out that kale and other cruciferous vegetables might be poisoning you. A physician in northern California, a man whose practice was filled with people who religiously followed every food and exercise fad started suspecting something:

Ernie Hubbard sees a very self-selecting group of patients and clients—“health fanatics,” he calls them—people who eat extremely well by current standards, exercise regularly, generally don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink to excess. In today’s world, however, especially in health-conscious Marin County, California, where Hubbard lives and works, these are the people increasingly showing up in doctors’ offices complaining of persistent but elusive problems: Chronic fatigue. Skin and hair issues. Arrhythmias and other neurological disorders. Foggy thinking. Gluten sensitivity and other digestive troubles. Sometimes even the possibility of Lyme Disease.

Hubbard was puzzled so he started testing his patients. Soon he discovered that they had elevated levels of heavy metals like thallium and cesium in their blood. 

He found a laboratory to run tests:

That led him to Doctors Data, a federally licensed laboratory near Chicago that does specialized testing, offering views of how elements function in the body on an intra-cellular level. By September of 2014, Hubbard was getting reports back showing heavy metals in virtually every kale sample he sent in. There were also traces of nickel, lead, cadmium, cesium, aluminum, and arsenic. Some of these metals are famously bad actors, or at least suspicious ones.

Bad actors, to say the least. One heavy metal, thallium, is a notable poison.

Oppenheimer explains:

 It turns out thallium was once a common ingredient in rat poison. It was also Saddam Hussein’s favorite poison to use on his enemies. (The metal works exquisitely for poison because it is tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless.) While none of Hubbard’s test subjects had been consuming doses even close to poisonous levels, the medical and scientific literature linked low-level doses to many of the complaints brought to his clinic: fatigue, heart arrhythmia, and—in more extreme cases—nausea, neurological problems, and hair loss.

Hubbard’s patients were consuming enough thallium to become sick, but not enough to die.

The lead scientist at Doctors Data, Dr. David Quig explained how heavy metals build up in the body to cause health problems:

“We now know that heavy metals are additive and synergistic,” he said. “If you get a little thallium, and a little lead, and a little cadmium in your system, you’ve got one plus one plus one equals five or six, not just three.” The reason, he said, is that metals and chemicals might each have different effects by themselves, but they “share similar sites of action where they disrupt metabolism.”

Quig suspects plenty of vegetables besides kale are picking up thallium, and other heavy metals. He already knew of one example, where a Seattle woman suffered from eating lettuce that turned out to be laced with thallium. “This happens with all leafy greens,” he said. “If it’s in the soil, the leafy greens are going to take it up.”

Apparently, cruciferous vegetables, the kind that make you think that you are virtuous when you are eating them, are especially adept at absorbing heavy metals from the soil.

Last year, Hubbard made another interesting discovery:

Then, in July of 2014, he stumbled on a 2006 study out of the Czech Republic showing how the “cruciferous” family of vegetables behave as “hyperaccumulators” of thallium. Crucifers include many of our more intense green vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard and collard greens. These are also the vegetables often touted—and consumed—most heavily these days, supposedly for their outsized health benefits.

The moral of the story: go easy on the kale. Back to bacon and eggs.


Dennis said...

I had an operation to remove kidney stones. Something that was never a problem for me. Come to find out many vegetables such as kale are high in oxalates. One of the items provided to me by my urologist was a list of foods to avoid with oxalates. For your edification:

Moderation is the key. Once one has had to use a catheter after surgery, especially the male version of use, one learns fast to stay away from anything that might engender its use in the future. Just watching those catheter commercials is enough to make me uncomfortable.

priss rules said...

I like Kale. But too much of anything isn't good.

I think these health freaks over did it.

"Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables…have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals (68). There has been one case report of an 88-year-old woman developing severe hypothyroidism and coma following consumption of an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg/day of raw bok choy for several months."

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

These super foods and miracle foods are interesting. Wouldn't you just love to see an information graphic showing how these fads develop? Actually, fads of all kinds are fascinating.

priss rules said...

3. Big Macs are Actually Good for You

conspiracy big macOr at least contain less fat and fewer calories than many of the liberal chatterati’s healthy-looking sandwiches, and even less than some posh mass-market salads! Even Subway’s supposedly healthy alternatives are more calorific than the kiddies’ eternal favourite, since the multinational torpedo-meister refuses to count cheese and fattening condiments.

The burger despised by snooty leftists is also healthier than three-quarters of the meals served by Britain’s socialist National Health Service (but most NHS patients are killed off before breakfast – see Item One, ObamaCare). Maybe you really do deserve a break today!

Anonymous said...

That is rich, assuming healthy diets are for lefties. You fail to recognize one main ingredient in these healthy diets, and that is they are extremely healthy for the local economy. Big Macs are avoid because they are so heavily supervised by the US and local governments. Most kale and other fresh vegetables are grown locally by independent farmers who compete in the market as true capitalist. Not the crony-capitalist of Walmart and Big Ag. When you spend $2.50 on a bundle kale at the local co-op, that $2.50 stays locally and circulates locally. When you buy a Big Max for 2 or 3 bucks, that money is transferred overnight to a TBTF bank on wall street. The only reason Big Macs sell for less then 3 bucks is because of the billions that has been spent to subsidize big agriculture to grow vast amounts of corn and soy that is then forced down the mouths of cattle. Now that is pure socialism. Heaven forbid we have true capitalism where a Big Mac has to compete on its own. And now one has to wonder if this study was funded by the big agriculture lobbyist. I'm sure they are freaking out over 1% loss of market share to the kale growers.

Anonymous said...

The fat that is in McDonald's burgers is NOT healthy! You can eat food loaded with fats, if there are good fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, etc. Of course you can overdo anything if you lack common sense. But advocating bacon and eggs over broccoli is pretty irresponsible.

Larry Sheldon said...

Interesting. Within the last couple of days I was reading a broadside from Bauch and Lomb touting kale as a supplier of one of the two pigments they think is important in the prevention of Macular Degenration.

Khornet said...

Errrm...Anonymous, check your "facts." You're a bit behind on fats. Bacon and eggs forever! Nothing more full of idiot fads than nutrition, education, and childbirth.

Unknown said...

BS. Just because Kale is a staple of the "healthy living" set doesn't mean it's immune to basic economics. Already, even though it's a new fad, most kale is grown on factory farms and shipped hundreds to thousands of miles to retail stores for sale to consumers. You know who the biggest seller of kale in the U.S. Is? Walmart. The fact that you naively think "local co-ops" add up to more than rounding error on vegetable sales shows your stuck in a hipster bubble in some ├╝ber trendy coastal commune somewhere.

Larry Sheldon said...

Fred Z said...

In the 1960s as the child of recent poor German immigrants to Canada I ate kale three times a week.

Gruenkohl mit Kartoffeln und Wurst.

Aaaargh. Horrible then, horrible now. Sorry Mutti, but it really was awful.

Dennis said...

Fred Z,

I know how you feel. My grandmother used to make me eat eggplant. To this day I cannot eat it even though I have tried on various occasions. Given the fact that we are unique chemical beings it stands to reasons some food are or can be deadly to us, create an adverse reaction, create an allergic reaction, and also really enjoyable. It may take a certain amount of time for certain foods to truly affect us adversely.
It is why moderation is the key and an understanding that others should not be forced to eat healthy just because a certain segment think that certain foods are good for them an others. History is replete with constant studies that tell us this is good for us, then bad for us, them may be good for us............................
Another reason why I don't want the government in my healthcare. Too many do gooders trying to use the government to enforce what they believe is healthy when for many people it may be deadly. Too many people trying to contra; other people's lives and choices.
I would posit that one day we will be able to understand that some people are so chemically adverse to each other that they should stay away from each other. I was watching a commercial for something and I took an immediate dislike for the woman in the commercial even though I can think of no logical reason for it. The only reason I mention it is that it makes me wonder why these reactions take place.

Ares Olympus said...

Thank goodness for modern science, and modern "health nuts" who help push the limits, or find out what limits are best not pushed.

Snoops says we shouldn't panic yet, but if you don't like kale, you can be happy to continue not liking it.
...All of the above-quoted articles cited a single source: a 7 July 2015 article published by Craftmanship magazine (which describes itself as a publication “created to explore the ethos of craftsmanship in its widest sense”). That article, written by Todd Oppenheimer, was certainly well-written and proposed a novel (if entirely anecdotal) idea: What if kale’s benefits were overhyped and it was really a detriment to overall health?

Oppenheimer profiled the work of microbiologist Ernie Hubbard, whom, he explained, has a “background in biochemistry and genetics and “[worked to] explore a range of tests and treatments not often found in traditional doctor’s offices” such as “bio-impedence’ analyzers that measure cellular energy and ‘chelating’ formulas like ZNatural, which aim to stimulate the body to release toxins.'” (Generally, the notion that the body is teeming with “toxins” requiring special cleansing is rejected by medical science.)
Articles circulating in July 2015 generally stemmed from a single profile in a magazine about craftsmanship, not a medical journal or a new, specific scientific finding. And while research in 2006 identified a possible tendency for all cruciferous vegetables to accumulate heavy metals, that research in no way suggested kale specifically was making people sick. It’s possible further study of kale could reveal such a link, but the suppositions referenced above were based on the untested observations of a single molecular biologist described in an article in a non-medical, non-science-based publication.

Unknown said...

yes..eating kale in high doses isn't good. I always had a feeling kale wasn't healthy. just an intuitive thing. I stayed away from it- that there was something in it that was too strong. I recently began doing the green smoothie thing. Right away- I began feeling sick. I thought, must be the kale or greens. Everytime i drank a smoothie, i got sick, brain fog etc. Then began to read about kale and the heavy metals and oxalates. Yes that's it. Once i stopped drinking those I felt ok. kale is ok in moderation that's abt it