The Low-Down on Oxalates and Low Oxalate Diets

How Oxalates Can Affect You

Limiting oxalates in the diet can be very beneficial if you suffer from inflammatory conditions, autoimmune conditions or if you are minerally depleted.   High oxalates have also been linked with autism.  Symptoms of high oxalates include pain, burning, fatigue, muscle aches, foggy brain, frequent urination and kidney stones.  The thyroid will also suffer as oxalates can bind to T3 and disturb thyroid function.  Oxalates will also reduce glutathione levels and increase oxidative stress, induce histamine release and interfere with sulfate metabolism.

The Gut Connection

I test oxalate levels by using the Great Plains Organic Acids Test , which can be ordered via the clinic.   When I do stool tests I often find good levels of Oxalobacter formigenes in the results, which is a bacteria that helps us to break down oxalate.  Other useful bacteria which help us to break down oxalates include Lactobacillus spp. and Bifidobacterium spp. , which are often not present in optimal levels.  It is so important to optimise your gut bacteria with a good quality, specific probiotic that works well with oxalate issues.  It’s also important to do some gut clearing work as there may be yeast or parasites present (there often are when there are oxalates).  These can be checked with a stool test or we can go straight in and start clearing.

Where are Oxalates Found?

Oxalates are abundantly present in many healthy foods which are also high in folate, vitamin C and fibre such as leafy greens, nuts and fruit and are part of the plant’s immune system.  We also get them from moulds, mycotoxins and fungi.  Excess oxalates react with minerals in the body and can bind to calcium to form crystals.

My patients have found the OxaBrow and Oxalator apps extremely useful in their meal planning so they can adjust the oxalate content of their meals accordingly.  The Oxabrow app gives you the amount of oxalates per serving whereas Oxalator just categorises from low to high.

How Do You Clear Oxalates?

If you remove oxalates too quickly you can experience oxalate dumping, so gently reduce by 5-10% weekly maximum.  Symptoms of oxalate dumping can include a yeast flare, painful bowel movements, rashes or hives, grainy stools, pain with urination and irritability or moodiness.  Boiling vegetables reduces oxalate content far more effectively than steaming them but the reduction of oxalate content will only be around 10-15% so you need to make sure you do not overcook and lose other nutritional content.

Alongside a good specific probiotic, I also use a binding agent such as activated charcoal, a good B6, calcium and magnesium citrate to bind to oxalates in the gut and a good quality high dose fish oil to reduce oxalates as other useful supplements in my practice for patients with oxalate issues.

Does Any Of This Sound Like You?

Do you think a low oxalate diet could benefit you? If you do decide to start a low oxalate diet, I strongly advise seeking support from a qualified naturopath or professional.

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