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Getting started on the low-phosphate diet

There are three steps to switching to a low-phosphate diet.

First, understand the five categories of foods that may exacerbate the effect of phosphate:

I. Natural foods
Fast growing animals and plants need elevated phosphate levels. Most edible plants and many animals reach full maturity with weeks or within a few months. Thus, the phosphate content is very high in all natural foods that are designed to nourish a fast growing plant or animal. For example, all products derived from cow's milk are high in phosphate: the calf needs the high phosphate content for rapid growth. A human being, in contrast, requires 15 to 20 years to achieve full maturity. Hence, a growing human being requires a far less daily phosphate intake than a calf and cow's milk is best avoided!

    Examples of natural foods that are designed to nourish fast growing plants or animals:

  • All seeds such as peas, lentils, dried beans, cocoa beans, carob, nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.) and their derivatives (peanut butter, marzipan, chocolate, etc.), as well as soya beans and all soya bean products.
  • All whole grains - since these are seeds - (such as wheat, rye, oats, corn, etc.).
  • Egg yolk (egg yolk contains lecithin, a source of elevated phosphate levels).
  • All dairy products derived from cow's milk, except the heavy (whipping) cream.
  • Natural emulsifiers such as lecithins which are extracted from egg yolks, almonds, soya beans or other seeds.

A sensitive person may tolerate most of the foods above if consumed in small quantities. For example:
  • Use one egg only in a quiche, cake or in pancake batter.
  • Substitute wherever possible diluted cream (1 part cream, 3-4 parts water) for milk.
  • Use 1 or 2 ripe (citric acid) tomatoes in a spaghetti sauce
  • Grate a very small quantity of hard cheese over a pizza.


II. Processed Foods
Many processed foods are extremely high in added phosphate. Phosphate compounds are popular and highly versatile food additives. Dietary phosphate is produced daily by the tonne and the food industry uses it to:

  • Extend the shelf life of their products.
  • Improve the taste of foods, in particular that of soft and soda drinks. Coke, for example, contains very high levels of phosphate and zero calcium.
  • Phosphates act as free-flowing agents to prevent the clumping of instant food products (e.g. instant coffee).
  • Phosphates act as emulsifying agents, which prevents any emulsion containing oil/fat and liquids from separating in food products. These kind of emulsifiers are in processed cheeses, cheese spread, mayonnaise, margarine.
  • Phosphates are added to speed up the thickening and stabilising of instant products (e.g. puddings and gravies).
  • Phosphates help retain water in processed meat products.
  • Phosphates improve the baking process by the addition of baking powder, which makes the process more flexible and improves the texture of baked products.

The above are the most prevalent reasons for using phosphate compounds, however, the food industry has many other uses for phosphate additives. If you would like to learn more, please refer to The Hidden Drug: Dietary Phosphate. The book lists several pages of 'safe' and 'danger' foods.


III.Citric acid
Be aware of the effect of elevated citric acid levels. Citric acid occurs naturally but like phophate is also manufactured industrially. Pages 91- 116 in The Hidden Drug: Dietary Phosphate explain in great detail how the phosphates and acids of the citric acid cycle affect a sensitive person's metabolism. Its effect on the body's metabolism compounds the effects of the phosphates. Some natural foods high in citric acid may cause relapses. However, the citric acid that is added is of greater concern. Citric acid is added to foodstuff to assist in the flavouring of jams, jellies, soft drinks, sweets, candies, jelly babies or snakes, etc.


IV. Alcohol
Be aware of the effect of alcohol. Alcohol, whilst not necessarily containing elevated phosphate levels, greatly exacerbates the effect of phosphate intoxication and therefore should be avoided.


V. Sugar
Avoid foods with a high sugar content. The high intake of foods containing sugar may intensify the body's response to phosphate-rich foods. Sugar furthermore interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium, causing further deficiencies in calcium and magnesium intake.


Second, when shopping, read all food labels and avoid all foodstuffs that fall into category II, unless you can be absolutely sure that the additives listed are from non-phosphate sources. If possible, avoid purchasing processed meats, cheeses, instant meals, soda drinks, coke and other highly processed foods. Concentrate on buying fresh foods.

When preparing meals, try to recall what was available one hundred years ago. Back then, the Sunday roast had gravy made from oil or butter and unprocessed flour. This gravy is far superior to the gravy that comes from a premix envelope or a square cube. A hundred years ago people made stock or bouillon from diced meat, soup bones and fresh vegetables. They added fresh herbs and spices and that food was nutritious and delicious. Stock made in this manner can be frozen and used at a later date.


Third, to get started on the Hafer-diet, find at least ten recipes that you like. That is all that most families use. You might have to try ten recipes to find one that you and your family enjoy, but that is okay as it is all part of the process. It is vitally important to have a variety of good recipes as variety is the key to success. You can try our recipes, adapt them to your own taste or create your own. There are literally hundreds of different ways of preparing low-phosphate meals. If you find a good recipe that works for you, please share it with us, we would love to post it to our website.

If you are off all dairy products, additional calcium and magnesium may be required and you should consider taking a calcium/magnesium supplement. You may like to consult your health professional if this is the case.


Finally, wishing you the best of success. If you are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us, we would love to hear from you. Your story is important because it will help other families make those important lifestyle changes.

Please enjoy our recipes

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