Why and how to rotate greens

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The short story: In a recent visit to my naturopath and after having had some testing done, I found out I’ve got a strong sensitivity to spinach and have to lay off it for the next 6-8 months. What?? I know, crazy right? Here’s the longer story…

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have spotted a photo I posted last week announcing that kale would be my new best friend. I’d just been to see my naturopath, who recently did an allergy test for me. The results were in, and apparently I have 2 ‘severe sensitivities’: crab (which I can deal with), and spinach. Wheat and gluten were identified as well, but those weren’t news to me. As far as spinach goes, this could be amazing news for any veggie hater out there who needs legit excuses as to why they refuse to eat it. But for someone who LOVES it, this was pretty tragic.

How to make green juice with a Vitamix and a pair of tights - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Although I didn’t think it was even possible to be sensitive to such a glorious superfood, part of me wasn’t surprised. Without getting into details, my digestion has been totally out of whack lately and I figured it was a result of switching iron supplements. (Yes, that same issue I started struggling with in May is still ongoing – I’m as anaemic as it gets, but my naturopath is on a mission to help me out with that.) All this time, I figured my spinach intake could only be helping to boost my iron levels. But as much as I love my green smoothies in the morning, they hadn’t been making me feel as ready to take on the world as they usually do.

So what’s going on?

There’s some very detailed science that explains what’s happening inside of me, which is known as leaky gut. (If you’re really interested, this blog post explains it well.) The very quick version is as follows:

  • There’s a single layer of cells that lines the entire wall of the small intestine, which act as the barrier between your digesting food, your immune system, and your internal space
  • After being ‘screened’ and gradually passing through this cell layer, the particles of digesting food are introduced to the immune system
  • BUT if the gut is attacked in some way (and yes, this includes through repeated exposure to foods that you’re sensitive to), that cell layer changes, all sorts of inflammation happens, and gaps are created between the cells. This means that bits of food can immediately move inside, directly exposing itself to the immune system, rather than being gradually assimilated (which is what the cell layer does when it’s healthy)
  • The immune system then starts going crazy, producing lots of antibodies to try and combat the unfamiliar bits of food coming in, and this leads to more inflammation, more destroying of those lining cells, and bigger gaps. Not cool.

If you like analogies, think of the bits of partially digested food as people, the cell wall like airport security, and the immune system like the airplane. When you go to the airport, people aren’t allowed to get on the airplane without passing through security. If someone tried, there’d probably be all sorts of alarms going off and people chasing them down. Likewise, the bits of food aren’t normally allowed to get to the immune system without passing ‘cell wall security’. When they do, the inflammation alarms go off and the gut starts going crazy.

Hemp Seed and Kale Pesto - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Inflammation? Me?

All this talk about inflammation seemed a bit odd me – I’m a really really clean eater. I make efforts to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods like ginger and turmeric in my diet on a daily basis (like in my favourite post-workout recovery smoothie.) I can’t remember the last time I ate fast food and avoid foods high in sugar and refined ingredients. About 80% of my grocery shopping is done around the perimeter of the store. How could things possibly be so inflamed?

Super Recovery Coconut Lime Smoothie - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Did too much spinach really cause the problem?

I don’t claim to be an expert on this at all, and to be honest, I still have some questions myself. Leaky gut can be caused by a bunch of things:

  • Diet – Not only by foods that are refined and processed, but also by those that contain chemicals that the body sees as toxic.
  • Yeast overgrowth/candida – We’ve ruled this out in my case.
  • Stress – Definitely a possible culprit
  • Medication – These can be rough on the intestines and cause inflammation (I haven’t been on any.)
  • Other inflammation

Based on the above, my guess is that this situation was caused by a combo of stress and too much spinach, specifically the oxalic acid inside which is a toxin (more about that in a second).

rainbow chard

So how can it be fixed?

In addition to a bunch of supplements my naturopath has me on to help restore those intestine-lining cells to their usual function, I’ve completely eliminated spinach from my diet. Her prediction is that after 3 months of absolutely zero spinach (and the assistance of a plethora of supplements), things should be nearly healed. At that point, I can slowly re-introduce it if  I want to. I feel like my kitchen cupboard has become a pharmacy, but am confident about this as I’m already starting to feel a bit better. This doesn’t mean the end of green smoothies though – it just means I’ll be making a much bigger effort to rotate my greens.

how to rotate greens for optimal health - eat-spin-run-repeat.com

Rotating greens? What’s that?

When I first started getting into green smoothie drinking, I knew this was important. It’s common sense – a varied diet with many foods of different colours ensures that we get a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. When it comes  to greens, kale, chard, collards, cabbage, broccoli, romaine, and arugula are regulars in my kitchen. Spinach however, is definitely the one used most. It’s incredibly versatile, almost tasteless in a green smoothie, and full of nutrients. BUT, just as is the case with any food, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. And despite knowing all of this, it appears this leaky gut thing has been caused by a bit of a spinach overdose. When I think about my smoothies and green juices, I was using enormous quantities.

How to make green juice with a Vitamix and a pair of tights - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Greens are great – but they also contain toxins.

No, I don’t mean the toxins that may have been sprayed on the leaves during growth or en-route to your grocery store, although those shouldn’t be ignored either. I’m referring to the little amounts of toxins that are naturally present in leafy greens, which when consumed in excess, can have negative impacts on the thyroid gland. Spinach contains oxalic acid, and it is believed that too much can cause problems with the kidneys and gall bladder. Oxalic acid can be found in a bunch of other foods too, but not normally in large enough amounts to be harmful (and you can reduce it through cooking.) Similarly, other leaves contain other toxins in small amounts. Therefore, it’s really important to know how to rotate greens to prevent build-up of these substances.

How to make green juice with a Vitamix and a pair of tights - Eat Spin Run Repeat

How to mix it up

The great news is that this doesn’t take a ton of effort or concentration – just make sure you’re buying different greens each week! There are heaps to choose from, some more strong in taste than others. I’ve found lately that I can combine smaller amounts of kale (strong tasting) with larger amounts of romaine (more mild) and still make many of my existing smoothie recipes without altering the other ingredients.

Think of greens as 4 families: the brassicas (cruciferous veg), amaranthacaea, asteraceae, and apiaceae. (And no, don’t ask me to pronounce all of those.) Here’s a little chart I made that you can reference. Print it and keep it on your fridge, or pin it if you like!

Big on smoothies and green juice? Know this before you drink your next one: How to rotate greens for optimal health - via eat-spin-run-repeat.com

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You want to ensure that you’re not always choosing leaves in the same greens family week after week. For example, eating kale and collards all the time wouldn’t be a great idea, but alternating a week of kale and collards with a week of spinach and romaine would be awesome. Variety for the win! 😉

So tell me…

  • Do you make an effort to mix up the greens in your diet on a regular basis?
  • Do you have any strange allergies or food sensitivities?

68 thoughts on “Why and how to rotate greens

  1. Very interesting post, Angela. I have had digestive issues for about 8 years now and really need to get a whole allergy test done. I would really love to see a naturopath but my medical insurance doesn’t cover it. Sad I know. Plus regular medical Dr. are so quick to just put you on medication instead of natural supplements. Curious to know how your supplements work for you after being on them for a few months (future post maybe). My problem isn’t so much as the veggie side but in the fruit. My digestive system is very sensitive to fruits so sadly there are days and days I don’t consume any fruit at all. 🙁 I think my iron has been a bit low, as i craved a steak (which I don’t eat much of at all) the other day after my last long run. Thanks for an informational post. Have a great day….I’m off for a pre-race deep tissue massage 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Desiree. The more I investigate my own issues, the more I learn about how much more common they are than I once thought. That’s a shame that naturopathy isn’t covered by your insurance. Mine is, but unfortunately all the supplements are paid for out of pocket, which is why I’m hoping that I don’t have to be on them for long. I’ve been on iron since May and have finally found a supplement that I think is helping and is making me feel far better than any of the others, and I’ve added grass-fed beef to my diet 1-2x per month. Like you said in one of your earlier comments, as runners I think it’s a smart thing to do.
      That’s interesting about the whole fruit thing. Have you had an allergy test done? I had to pay out of pocket for that too (this whole thing has been very expensive, despite being covered) and I think it was $150. I got a list of foods back with either NR (non reactive, *, **, or *** next to them (*** being highly sensitive). Part of me still wants to know what my physician thinks of all of this and I plan to investigate that, but as you said, I also really dislike how fast they are to prescribe medication. Have you read much about food combining? Regarding the fruit thing, the food combining ‘laws’ say that fruit should be consumed on its own as it’s one of the fastest digesting food groups. One of my fellow blog friends Megan did a post on it a while ago at http://detoxinista.com/about/food-combining/ if you’re interested.
      Have a wonderful massage, and a great week! 🙂

      1. Wendy don’t know if you’re still around but I’m in NJ too and am searching for a holistic MD is you have any suggestions…

    2. On the subject of rotating greens, I usually purchase a bag of organic mixed greens that contain kale, spinach, and chard. Costco sells them in these wonderful 1.5 lb bags. I make my smoothies with a mix of greens.
      So, since these greens are mixed right out of the bag, does this have the same affect as rotating? Welcome your comments

      1. That sounds like a great mix Albert – I wish my Costco sold that blend! The only 1.5lb bags we have are plain spinach. I think this is a great way to ensure you’re getting a variety, and if you really wanted to get a mix, you could occasionally incorporate some from the other ‘green families’ – like romaine (very mild in smoothies), and herbs like parsley and dill in other meals. 🙂

  2. really well done post on this!!! The last couple of years have been all about fixing my gut too, only turns out I had a parasite which was made worse by food sensitivities. Working with my naturopath I seem to have resolved that but still occasionally have issues and I really have to remind myself to rotate foods because I am a creature of habit!

    1. Thanks so much Amanda! And sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with your own digestive issues too. A parasite doesn’t sound like much fun at all! I’m glad to hear that you’ve been able to resolve things with your naturopath though. This gives me lots of confidence that I’ll be able to do the same. It sounds like both you and I tend to get into routines with our food choices. Here’s to a week of lots of variety (or ‘nutritional biodiversity if we want to be real nerds about it!!)

  3. I really liked this post. As someone who’s stomach is very sensitive I’ve been rotating food for years. So annoying. Unfortunately for me the things I”m sensitive too won’t go away 🙁 Good luck with your journey. What supplements did your naturopath recommend for a leaky gut?

    1. Hi Joanna, so glad you found it useful! There are a couple that I’m on, including one practitioner brand supplement that may be hard to find where you are, but the others include L-glutamine and a very powerful probiotic. I have others that I plan to ask about, and if you’d like to look into some, there’s an article on Mind Body Green that lists 8 that are commonly used to treat digestive distress. You’ll find it here, and I hope that helps! 🙂

  4. Such an interesting article-I started rotating my greens when I heard that eating the same foods could cause a sensitivity but I know that I should change it up even more! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Hi Kristina, the allergy test I had done was an IgG blood test. I know that some sources criticize these for lack of evidence, but I’ve noticed that by eliminating spinach for a couple of weeks now, I’m already feeling a bit better. I haven’t read all the science that has been published on this type of test, but I figure that if eliminating the highly reactive foods for now makes me feel good, then there’s got to be some truth to it. This is all pretty new to me and I am by no means an expert, so you might want to explore your options if there are other allergy tests you’ve heard of. I’ll email you with the contact info for my naturopath. 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for this post! As someone who has been struggling with digestion issues for years, it’s great to see others exploring the all natural route to healing. I love it! Also, it was a great reminder that I need to be rotating my greens more frequently.

  6. Wow this was incredibly informative! I am so sorry to hear about your spinach allergy 🙁
    I have never heard of rotating greens but it does make sense. I will try to do this from now on.
    I hope your stomach issues are cleared up soon for you!
    The past 6 weeks I have been getting the same tummy ache every time I go to work, I told my husband I must be allergic to work. But perhaps it is something I have developed a sensitivity to….

  7. FABULOUS post. This is something that is not talked about enough and I am so glad you explained this so clearly.
    The one problem is that if YOU are inflamed, there is little hope for the rest of us, dear.

    I am book marking this post for sure. All the best as you tackle your food sensitivities head on! I am allergic to gluten and sensitive to dairy and soy products.

  8. As you know I have been having tummy troubles. I am scheduled for a scope in a couple of weeks, but I am not sure if that will give me conclusive answers.

    You have definitely got me thinking about getting tested for allergies. I think I will wait til after my scope, but if I dont get the answers I am looking for, than I think this could be a great option. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    1. Thanks for sharing Krysten. I know if anyone can identify with this, it’s you! A scope is definitely something that has crossed my mind, but the thought of having to prep for one is enough to make me not want to do it! Still, I think they can be very insightful into what’s going on. I’m curious to hear how it goes so keep me posted!

  9. Hi Angela,

    While exercise is good and dandy, it is also INFLAMMATORY, especially when it excess. Perhaps this could also be a culprit of your inflammation (in addition to stress and spinach)? Also a lack of sleep can contribute to overall inflammation (not sure if this is the case for you…?).

    Becca

    PS I did a IgG test two years ago and also tested positive for a spinach allergy! Watch out for Vega products which sometimes contain dried greens powder including spinach 😉

    1. Hi Becca – I agree, exercise is certainly inflammatory, which is why I aimed to pack in as many anti-inflammatory ingredients in the post-workout smoothie linked to above. Lately my workouts haven’t been excessive (I’ve pushed myself much, much harder in the past) and while stress may be a factor, I’m quite confident that food is the main culprit in this case. Of course, I think everyone could do with some more stress relief in their lives, myself included! 🙂

  10. SPINACH IS MY LIFE. I am not quite sure what I would do with out it. Wait, no, I know what I would do… LOL – I would just eat lettuce, mache, etc. LOL!!! That being said, I have a LOT of foods that cause issues like this with me… Some being shrimp, diakon radish, broccoli, all grains/wheat, all dairy products, all fruits… The list goes on and on! LOL! I’ve learned to live without them though and it sounds like you’ll be just fine! Kale is your new bestie! LOL!

  11. I have only recently heard about becoming sensitive to foods if eaten in excess. I hope that with some rotation and a break off of it, you’ll eventually be able to tolerate spinach again. xx

  12. Very interesting. I recently read about oxalic acid and wondered about the effects. I’ve got a garden full of Swiss chard which I’ve been eating all summer but now that the crop is done, I’ll be looking to switch up my greens. Thanks for the great info.

  13. Good job explaining it, and glad you got to the problem! I’ve had my own digestive disorders and have identified my sensitivities (onions, oranges, & gluten). The good thing is healing your gut allows you to eat these foods again, and rotating is always a good idea to get a variety of nutrients (and not get bored!). Working with a LEAP dietitian can help identify these sensitivities as well, or working with someone to do an elimination diet.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Lauren! I’m glad you’ve been able to identify what you’re sensitive to as well. My understanding is the same as yours – that you can reintroduce the foods later. Makes me happy to know that I won’t necessarily never be able to consume my beloved spinach ever again! 🙂

  14. you might also have low stomach acid preventing you from absorbing iron – in which case you might consider take betaine HCL capsules.

  15. iodine (lugols or kelp) will also help restore your stomach acid. If you are having indigestion this is something to look into for sure. Also, too much greens will make you way too alkaline and will interfere with digestion.

  16. Hi Angela! I’m playing major blog-reading catch-up today, so I’m sorry I’m so delayed. I’m somewhere between SO glad and SO sad that I read this post. I also eat very cleanly (with some splurges, of course), and have some stomach issues that pop up more frequently than I’d like. It is definitely exacerbated by stress, but I have felt fairly sure that it’s been set off by food, and after doing elimination periods for gluten, dairy, and a few other potential triggers, spinach has been in the back of my mind as something that may be correlated. I eat TONS of spinach in smoothies, spinach salads, egg scrambles, and many other dishes, so I never wanted to admit that this might be a possibility for me (and had never heard of it being a problem for anyone else), but your post is making me think I need to reinvestigate. Thanks for making me think, and for sharing your experience. Hoping it will be impetus to get myself to a naturopath sooner than later!

    1. Thanks SO much for your comment Megan!! And don’t worry about blog catch-up – I haven’t been a very good blog reader these days either! (Can we have 3 more hours in the day please?!) I’m glad that this post resonated with you. As I’m sure you’ll agree, a spinach sensitivity sounds so weird – if anything, you’d think most people could do with getting MORE spinach! But it’s been just over a month now and I’m finally starting to feel better. I’ve been doing a few other things with my diet these days and they’ve helped tons, so I’m going to do a post soon about all the changes I’ve made. Let me know what ends up happening when you go to the naturopath! I’d be curios to hear what he/she recommends and if it’s similar to the verdict I got from mine. 🙂

    1. Thank YOU Jillian, I found your info really really useful! The post you did today was great too. The chia seeds point was definitely news to me. I don’t eat heaps of them and tend to go for flax or hemp anyway, but I had no idea that chia seeds could cause digestive upset. My next task is to green up my cleaning products – I’ve really neglected that up until now. Thanks again for being such a great resource!

  17. really great article! I too am discovering that I am setting myself up for a kale allergy. Too much kale and brassica veggies at once. I need to rotate it up. Thanks for the graphic – makes it super easy!

    Sounds like we are on a similar path. I too just got the IgG test done and had a few surprises in there. Like cranberries – who is allergic to that? ME!

    Thanks again for the great writeup!

    1. No problem Torea! Isn’t it strange how we can develop intolerances to things, even things that are supposed to be super healthy for us!? Rather annoying too, if you ask me! Cranberries does sound like quite an odd one. Guess you’ll need to get a little creative at Thanksgiving, hey? 😉 Having said that, there were some things like black walnuts, asparagus, and cauliflower that I got one-star ratings for (so mildly sensitive). How random!? Based on some of the reading I’ve done on IgG tests since I had mine, I’m not sure how credible they are so I don’t tend to restrict those one-star items. Call me weird but I actually really like cauliflower!

  18. Your information amazed me. I have MANY food allergies/intolerances.
    Diagonsed celiac 4 years ago. So I am limited and thought I was eating so healthy. Spinach /lettuce salad every evening for supper. I have been ITCHING all over, unbearable itch that scratching does not stop.
    I had added avocado. I cut that out, thinking that was it. Might be some, then last night I decided to omit Spinach. I DID NOT WAKE UP ALL NIGHT ITCHING AND SCRATCHING. Maybe I was having TOO MUCH spinach. Could not believe it when I see how other people are having problems – with a SUPER FOOD ! I’m considering more skin allergy tests. Thanks for your information !!!

  19. I have been doing more research. I think my real problem is HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE. After reading about this, I have all the signs and symptoms and it is very likely for people who are gluten intolerant (celiac)
    Wow, who knew ???? Spinach and avocados are major triggers. AT LEAST I CAN FEEL RELIEVED THAT THIS WAS NOT ALL IN MY HEAD !!!

    1. Wow, very interesting! I’m glad that you’ve finally nailed down some suspects – itchiness does not sound fun! My mom has a random allergy to raw fruit with pits (like peaches for example), and if she eats it she has to take an antihistamine to get rid of the itching. Why can’t we just develop sensitivities to UNhealthy things like junk food, hey?! 🙂

  20. I came across your blog as I just had the most awful reaction to my spinach salad at lunch today. I have never had a problem with spinach before. It should not come as a surprise to me though. My body is slowly rejecting all things healthy. I am allergic to avocado, kiwi, banana, plums, figs, grapes (but thank goodness not wine yet), raisins, currents, fresh tomatoes, all peppers hot and sweet raw or cooked, eggplant, I start to itch from touching raw potatoes so I don’t eat them anymore either and as of today fresh spinach I don’t think is an option. I am also gluten intolerant. Luckily I go to the allergist in two weeks for a check up so we can investigate this new reaction. Your post was very interesting and informative.

  21. i have been allergic to spinach since i was 16 (39 now!) i used to love eating it. i get a very itchy mouth & lips which i could handle but it also makes me feel anaphylactic, where my throat feels so swollen that i can’t breath – i found this out the hard way when one day spinach turned on me 🙁 i am looking at home smoothie’s now and nearly 80% of the recipes have spinach in it!! i am thinking kale as alternate, but seeing i also react to green beet leaf and even dark leaf cos lettuce i am not sure!…thoughts? i have been to a naturopath for a sty that never went away (gone now) but she said nothing about spinach, only wheat….love the chart of greens and thinking maybe kale will be ok as it seems to be from a different group of greens..???? your truly, hopeful Hannah

    1. I also have a spinach allergy that causes anaphylaxis. No itchiness or rash, just swelling in my throat and stomach that made me feel full after a meal, and also a general feeling of queasiness. My allergist told me that fullness was actually my throat closing! Did the scratch test on my arm and the one for spinach swelled up like a balloon. I was told to avoid swiss chard and beet greens. I’m wondering if kale would be OK. I have no problems with broccoli or cabbage, but I confess I stay away from a lot of dark leafies just to be on the safe side.

  22. I have never been able to eat spinach. Within a few hours of eating it I begin to feel unwel (flu like symptoms – shivering and sweating). After that the vomiting starts and then the diarrhoea. The next morning I wake with a pounding headache and feeling like I have the worst hangover ever – even though I’ve not had any alcohol. These symptoms can last for up to 48 hours. Even a tiny amount is enough to set this off. Last time I unknowingly ate spinach it was in Minestrone Soup and I was unwell for two days. Chard also causes the same reaction.
    The only solution for me is to completely avoid spinach which is a shame because I actually like it!!

    1. Alison, thanks so much for sharing! It sounds like spinach sensitivities are a lot more common than I thought, based on your comment and the ones above. As you said, it’s such a shame when it’s a food that’s really healthy (well, it’s supposed to be, anyway!) Lucky for us, there are lots of other greens out there. 🙂

  23. I react to flaxseed (causes eosinophilia) and just recently discovered I may be reacting to vinegar. I discovered I was gluten intolerant a couple of years ago and felt much better after going gluten-free. Of course, I had the ups and downs that come with getting symptoms, eliminating gluten sources, getting more symptoms, finding even more gluten sources to eliminate, etc. I thought things had been pretty good for the last several months except I noticed that some symptoms were beginning to creep back in. Acne was coming back, and GI symptoms were starting to creep back in as well. I was starting to worry that I was still getting gluten somewhere and was beginning to research the gluten contamination elimination diet, which looks SUPER restrictive. I was afraid I’d have to try going on this diet. One afternoon, I decided to have a dill pickle for a snack. I did start feeling tired afterwards, but later that night, I was extremely bloated. The fatigue and bloating persisted throughout the next day, although I was feeling a little better. The following day, I had some guacamole (Spicy Wholly Guacamole 100-calorie pack) with a bagel for breakfast. I felt fatigued and miserable the rest of the day. Both of these had vinegar in common, and I was thinking it was a gluten issue, but the vinegar in the pickles was made from corn. I have noticed no issues with corn or other corn-derived ingredients. I decided to try eliminating vinegar to see if it would make a difference, and within a couple of days I was feeling fantastic. I had an accidental gluten exposure a couple of weeks ago that has kind of muddied things, but overall I’ve felt much better eliminating vinegar from my diet. I have no idea if I should try reintroducing it or not after six months to a year to see if I still react to it. I plan to ask my doctor, but it would be great if I could somehow figure out if this is an allergy or intolerance and if avoidance needs to be permanent. I’ve even read that allergies that cause eosinophilia can reverse as well, so I’m not sure about reintroducing flaxseed either. All questions for my doctor, I guess, but it makes things confusing. I definitely don’t plan on reintroducing anything until after I speak to my doctor, who I don’t see until January, to get her opinion. It’s a long time to wait, but at least I’ll have time to evaluate if symptoms return and if I need to eliminate something else.

  24. i read through this whole thing and you are missing something about your allergy to spinach and your inflammation…..the inflammation and gastrointestinal issue is from the other foods in your diet…..like nightshades and root vegetables….you will want to really look into that.

  25. I can’t believe I found this! It is important to note I ate spinache every day for about 5 years. In salads and green smoothies. I had digestive issues for about four years. So severe I went to the doctor who thought it was crohns. In and out of doctors appointments, they finally got me to do a colonoscopy, which showed inflammation. I went on heavy medication to reduce the inflammation but nothing seemed to work. I was still in pain and had tummy issues. One day I decided to take spinache fully out of my diet. I had a suspicion it was causing some issues but I had tried eliminating it once when I was very sick and it did not work. However this time I eliminated it for about a month and have not had any since (a year) I am pain free and digestive issue free. I had no idea our bodies could build intolerances like this!

    1. Wow, thanks for sharing your experience! I’m so glad that you figured out what was causing the problems. I know – it’s so crazy that something seemingly super-healthy can wreak so much havoc, right? Happy to hear you’re feeling well again! 🙂

  26. I was overgrown with candida due to living in a moldy apartment and stress and a so so diet although mold was the pivotal culprit. I became malnourished and figured this out. From there I went on a folate intensive diet that included tons of spinach, lots of asparagus and avocados. Shortly therein I developed leaky gut in the form of major tongue inflammation after eating trigger foods like dairy, sugar, wheat.

    Simultaneously, I also noted that I have a SNP (from 23andme) that makes me less efficient at absorbing magnesium – and that I had a serum deficiency (and who knows how much deeper).

    So I began taking magnesium supplements, the new kind, and voila, my leaky gut seemed to seal back to where I can eat anything without any tongue inflammation whatsoever.

    I’ve thought this was due solely to the magnesium but I’m reading that too many dark green leafy vegetables can actually hinder magnesium absorption (my intake of the greens also went down somewhat during the magnesium supplement phase). So what if I actually gave myself the leaky gut or worsened it?

    I pose the question because I didn’t have the food sensitivities until after over treating the folate/leafy green deficiency, even for months during which I was either candida overgrown in my small intestine or for three months between neutralizing that but not re-folating.

    I also am compound heterozygous MTHFR which is why folate was so problematic (get tested everyone!)

    The point is I don’t really know if I added to the leaky gut or even pushed into it in a way worse than the candida had left me by overdosing on greens. They replenished my folate but who knows if too much is never a good thing…

    I didn’t notice my immune system was so down during the candida (I didn’t get sick), but I was also not exposed to much then.

    Anyway, this is a report to add my story to anyone out there searching for answers and health.

  27. Started eating clean for a Body Transformation Challenge last year…. Oats in the a.m. And 2 meals of chicken, brussel sprouts, and brown rice. Same thing every day for weeks.

    At some point, I got the worst chapped lips. Nothing would heal them. I began thinking I had some sort of disease. It went in for over a month and it was so painful and embarrassing!

    I finally occurred to me that it could be a food allergy so I cut out what I had added to my diet most recently, which was the oats and brussel sprouts.

    I healed up a little over a week later. Long story short – I now have a terrible reaction (chapped, burning lips) to both oats AND anything related to brussel sprouts (brassica oleracea), but it doesn’t show until 4-5 days later. And it lasts at least a week.

    I could not understand why I would be allergic to those 2 things, as they are not related. Two weeks ago, I ran across an article about Leaky Gut and figured that is what happened. And now I understand that it was most likely due to my over-indulgence of brussel sprouts!

    Considering that I just started doing green smoothies, and had planned on using spinach instead of kale, your article came just in time so I won’t make the same mistake twice! Thank you so much!

    1. Wow, Heather, thank you for sharing! And I’m so so glad you were able to notice the pattern and identify that it was the overexposure that was causing the issues. Isn’t it crazy that foods are supposedly so good for us can cause so much trouble at the same time? I adore Brussels sprouts and would be so sad if I had to break up with them for a while! As I’m sure you’re already doing, I think rotating the greens in your smoothies is probably the best idea, and even incorporating other green veg like cucumber, celery and fresh herbs. I’ve found that zucchini has a very neutral taste but adds quite a bit of thickness + creaminess, so it might be worth a shot!

  28. I’m so glad I found this blog post, even years after you wrote it. I’ve been dealing with acid reflux and heartburn for over a year now but recently things got a lot worse. My doctor believes I have a stomach ulcer so I’ve been cutting out spicy things, tomatoes, caffeine Ext and on a PPI, however I’m still getting really awful stomach aches. I started keeping a food journal of what foods I eat prior to the pain and there is one identical ingredient on the list, spinach. Oddly enough I recently had a rash on my lip after eating it too. I’ve been eating a ton of a spinach the last 6 months, almost daily. When before I never had. I’m going to try cutting back on that and some of your other tips and see how that goes. I’d rather heal myself than rely on medications. Thanks for bringing this to light!

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