Man Experiences Kidney Failure After Drinking a Gallon of Tea a Day


A 56-year-old man has experienced kidney failure after his habit of drinking 16 glasses — a gallon — of iced tea a day. According to a letter submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine, he suddenly developed fatigue, weakness, and body aches, which is what led doctors to make the correlation between his tea consumption and kidney failure.

The doctors attributed the man’s kidney failure to excessive amounts of oxalate in his system. Oxalate is a naturally occurring compound called that’s found in tea as well as many other foods like beet greens, spinach, nuts, and strawberries. The leaves of a plant — like spinach and swiss chard — almost always contain higher oxalate levels than their roots, stems, and stalks. By drinking a gallon of black tea a day, the man ingested more than 1,500 milligrams of oxalate every day — 10 times the recommended daily amount. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises consuming no more than 40 to 50 milligrams of oxalate per day.

If you’re a healthy eater or tea drinker, however, there’s no reason to worry. For the vast majority of people who have not experienced specific kidney problems, foods containing oxalates should not be a health concern. “The summer season is coming and a lot of people use a lot of iced tea in this season,” one of the letter’s writers, Dr. Umbar Ghaffa, told Reuters Health. “We just want to make patients aware that too much of anything is bad.” The key, like most everything else we consume, is moderation.

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