Something I often see with my clients is that they try really hard to eat healthy… because they desperately want to feel better!
But unfortunately, the information ‘out there’ doesn’t take bio-individuality into account.
In fact, following popular dietary health trends can make people feel a lot worse rather than better, which can be incredibly frustrating.
This is especially true for people who have underlying gut issues!
Take juicing or green smoothies for example.
The ingredients often used in these, such as spinach (or other leafy greens), celery, carrots, beetroot, nuts, seeds and berries are healthy…
Unless you have an OXALATE TOXICITY!
A diet high in oxalates can cause many health issues, the most common being bladder issues (such as frequent urination or recurrent UTI), pain (including joint, eye, abdominal, etc) and fatigue!
The truth is, everything you eat can be good or bad for you, depending on your own unique biology.
That’s why, at Nourishing Therapies, we firmly believe that:
There are many reasons why you might react to a specific food.
But today I want to focus on OXALATES, a food chemical that is found in many healthy plant-based foods.
If you love green smoothies and feel great when you have them… don’t panic!
Oxalates are not problematic for everyone.
In a healthy digestive system with no ‘leaks’ and plenty of good bacteria, oxalates in food simply go through your digestive tract (human’s digest oxalates) and end up being degraded by specific bacteria in your gut, including oxalabacter formigenes. So they don’t usually cause any problems… unless you also have certain genetic snps which can also lead to an accumulation of oxalates in the body (which is a subject for another day).
Overuse of antibiotics causes big problems since they can reduce or completely eliminate the oxalate-degrading bacteria in the intestines. The triple therapy used for the treatment of H.Pylori has been shown to eradicate oxalobacter formigenes in the gut.
However, many people with SIBO, leaky gut, or lack of good bacteria in their gut end up being somewhat ‘intolerant’ to oxalates found in food, and develop many health issues as a result.
Remember, just because someone says something is ‘healthy’ (like a green smoothie), doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.
Your body is always going to be your best guide.
If you’ve been struggling with health/gut issues for a while that are not responding to your healthy, gut-healing diet, it might be time for you to start listening to your body… and take a look at your oxalate consumption.
IN THIS ARTICLE, YOU WILL LEARN
1- What are oxalates?
2- Foods high in oxalates
3- Symptoms of oxalate toxicity
4- Why you need to be careful when reducing your consumption of oxalates
WHAT ARE OXALATES?
Oxalate, aka oxalic acid, is a naturally-occurring and reactive molecular substance found in a variety of foods, especially plant-based foods.
When too much oxalate is absorbed in the bloodstream via the gut, it binds to calcium and forms into sharp calcium-oxalate crystals.
These are best known for causing kidney stones, but what most people do not know is that these crystals can lodge in almost any tissue in the body causing or contributing to pain, inflammation, irritation of tissues and mucous membranes (including the gut membrane), and a host of other conditions.
Excess oxalates can also lead to oxidative damage and the depletion of glutathione, which is essential for metabolising many toxic environmental chemicals that enter the body.
Oxalates get stored by the body (similar to the way heavy metals are stored.)
FOODS HIGH IN OXALATES
Many of you might be shocked by this list, as I find that many people who switch to a gut-healing protocol start eating a lot more of these foods.
A lot of foods considered to be very healthy are very high in oxalates. In fact, vegetarian/vegan diets tend to be very high in oxalates.
Examples of high oxalate foods (we provide a very extensive list in our Happy Gut At-Home program):
- Almonds and peanuts (but also most nuts)
- Sesame seeds (including Tahini)
- Spinach (but also other greens)
- Soy products
- Beet greens
- Sweet potatoes (but white potatoes as well)
- Dried figs
- Chocolate (including cocoa and carob) ;-(
- Berries like blackberries and raspberries
- Whole wheat flour products, bran and other cereals
- Black tea and instant coffee.
Swap foods instead of removing them to avoid over-restricting your diet. Swap spinach for lower oxalate greens like lettuce, turnip greens, dinosaur kale or bok choi.
Swap almonds (excessively high in oxalates), with pumpkin seeds (you can make milk and flour with them too!)
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF OXALATE TOXICITY
Painful or inflamed joints, similar to fibromyalgia or arthritis
Fatigue (by causing mitochondria dysfunction)
Weakness or low muscle tone
Burning urine flow (similar to UTI)
Interstitial cystitis and frequent urination
Burning bowel movements
Vulvodynia – external female genital pain or irritation
Blood sugar and thyroid issues
Developmental disorders in children, including autism
Chelating of toxic metals like mercury
Crystals in urine (you might be able to find those if you let your urine dry out in a container)
Black flecks in stools
Don’t make the mistake of switching immediately to a really low oxalate diet…. it can trigger some serious detox symptoms (often referred to as oxalate dumping) as your body starts the process of removing stored oxalates.
You have to slowly reduce your consumption, one food at a time.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Oxalates can be a problem for a lot of people with gut issues.
But reducing oxalates in your diet — and other naturally occurring food chemicals — can help you feel a LOT better. That’s why we put a huge emphasis on this in our Happy Gut At-Home program.