Have you found yourself struggling with strange symptoms… yet your doctor can’t seem to find the cause?
If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people are living with hidden autoimmune conditions, allergies, and food sensitivities that make them miserable, but often don’t show up on standard medical tests.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and peanut allergies.
But, did you know that there are a myriad of other food sensitivities that have just recently been brought into the mainstream? These include, but are certainly not limited to, histamine sensitivity, salicylate sensitivity, and oxalate sensitivity.
What Are Oxalates?
Oxalates are chemical compounds found in many green vegetables and other “healthy” foods. Your body produces them as waste products, as well.
In most individuals, oxalates are not absorbed by the gut, but are instead metabolized by healthy gut bacteria or eliminated as waste products.
However, for a small percentage of people, the body may absorb too much oxalate from food sources and have difficulty eliminating it.
Symptoms of Oxalate Sensitivity
When oxalates accumulate in the body, they can cause a host of strange and frustrating symptoms that are difficult to diagnose and treat.
This is because when too many oxalates are absorbed into the bloodstream via the gut, they can form sharp oxalate crystals. These crystals are able to wedge themselves into just about any one of your healthy tissues, which can result in chronic pain and inflammation.
Furthermore, excessive amounts of oxalate can lead to oxidative damage and the depletion of an essential substance called glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier. It is vital for metabolizing the toxins.
“Deficiency of glutathione contributes to oxidative stress, which plays a major role in several lifestyle diseases.”
Some examples of the damage that can be done by glutathione deficiency include:
• Inability to repair DNA
• Toxin and heavy metal accumulation
• Greatly reduced ability to detoxify
• Reduced oxygen and nutrient supply to cells
• Weakened cell membranes
• Cellular mutations
• Cellular death
Another problem with excess oxalates in the body is that they can bind to minerals in the gut and prevent the body from absorbing them.
All these factors combine to cause the following symptoms:
• Kidney stones
• Burning urination
• Interstitial cystitis (burning bladder)
• Vulvodynia (female genital pain or irritation)
• Chronic candida (yeast infections)
• Chronic fatigue
• Cystic fibrosis
• Hormonal imbalance
• Child developmental disorders, including autism
• Hyperoxaluria (excessive urinary excretion of oxalate)
• Burning bowel movements
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Joint pain and inflammation (similar to fibromyalgia or arthritis)
• Thyroid problems
Wait…Is It a Calcium Deficiency?
Before we move on to discussing a low oxalate diet and how it can benefit your health, let’s examine an overlooked factor in oxalate sensitivity.
According to research, diets that are low in calcium can raise urine oxalate levels. This is because proper calcium levels can inhibit intestinal oxalate absorption. A randomized controlled trial studied men with hypercalciuria (elevated calcium in the urine) and placed them on one of two diets to check which would be the most effective in the prevention of kidney stones (a common symptom of oxalate sensitivity).
One group followed a diet low in calcium and oxalate. The other followed a diet higher in calcium with restricted intake of oxalate, protein, and salt.
At the five-year mark, the latter group had a 51 percent lower rate of stone recurrence than those following a low-calcium diet.
Talk with your doctor about testing you for calcium deficiency and/or hypercalciuria if you’re experiencing symptoms of oxalate sensitivity before following the low oxalate diet.
What Causes Oxalate Sensitivity?
Like other food sensitivities, oxalate sensitivity is most commonly associated with poor gut health. If your digestive tract does not contain enough healthy bacteria to break down oxalates before they can reach other parts of your body, you are at increased risk for chronic pain, inflammatory, allergic, and autoimmune conditions.
High Oxalate Foods
According to Dr. Axe, oxalates are included in his list of 10 Antinutrients to Get Out of Your Diet … and Life.
Foods highest in oxalates include:
10. Collard greens
11. Sweet potatoes
Watch Your Intake of Vitamin C
According to a study, high-dose vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid has been linked to kidney stones in men.
Since large doses of this form of vitamin C may increase the amount of oxalate in your urine and put you at higher risk for developing kidney stones, do not exceed more than 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily.
No matter what type of food sensitivities you’re currently struggling with, the most important factor to healing any of them is healing your gut. When your gut is healthy, you’re healthy. It’s as simple as that!
Have you experienced kidney stones and tried a low oxalate diet? If so, how did it work for you?
Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.
- A. Mardinoglu, S. Shoaie, M. Bergentall, P. Ghaffari, C. Zhang, E. Larsson, F. Backhed, J. Nielsen. The gut microbiota modulates host amino acid and glutathione metabolism in mice. Molecular Systems Biology, 2015; 11 (10): 834
- Oxalate: Good or Bad? AuthorityNutrition.com
- The Role of Oxalates in Autism and Chronic Disorders. Weston A. Price Foundation
- Harris, J. Coe, F. How to Eat a Low Oxcalate Diet.The University of Chicago
- Finkelstein, V. Goldfarb, D. Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ. 2006 May 9; 174(10): 1407–1409.
- Dietary Changes to Prevent Calcium Oxalate Stones. Kaiser Permananente. Health Education/South San Francisco
- Thomas, L. Elinder, C. et al. Ascorbic Acid Supplements and Kidney Stone Incidence Among Men: A Prospective Study. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(5):386-388.