A 56-year old man recently went to the hospital after experiencing fatigue, weakness, body aches, and nausea. After examination and running various tests, doctors concluded that the man’s symptoms were the result of his kidney failing. What caused his kidney failure? His shocking dietary habit of consuming 16 8-ounce glasses of iced tea every day.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t the amount of sugar or questionable ingredients that is suspected of causing the man’s kidneys to fail (though that likely contributed). This is according to Dr. Umbar Ghaffar of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas.
What is believed to have caused his kidney failure was the massive ingestion of a food chemical called oxalate – which is found in black tea. The doctors concluded that oxalate”badly clogged” and inflamed his kidneys to the point of failure. Consuming 16 glasses of iced tea every tea resulted in him taking in 3-10x more oxalate than the average person, coming in at about 1,500 milligrams daily. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises consuming no more than 40-50 mg of oxalate per day.
“It was the only reasonable explanation,” said Dr. Umbar Ghaffar about the case, which was described in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine. “If you drink tea once or twice a day, it probably wouldn’t exceed what is the normal range for Americans. But this patient was taking 10 times that amount.”
The New England Journal of Medicine’s description of the case ends with:
“We speculate that oxalate nephropathy may be an underrecognized cause of renal failure. In cases of unexplained renal failure in which proteinuria is absent and abundant oxalate crystals are present in urine sediment, a thorough dietary history should be obtained, because the kidney dysfunction could be a manifestation of oxalate nephropathy from an oxalate-rich diet. The case presented here was almost certainly due to excessive consumption of iced tea.”
Oxalate aside, consuming this much iced tea likely had other negative impacts on the man’s health, especially if it was loaded with sugar (and it probably was, given the massive consumption). The consumption of sugary beverages not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but can fuel cancer and spark disease-causing inflammation.
Remember to stay away from these beverages, or at least practice the laws of moderation.