Today’s blog is about oxalates and it might be something you have never heard of but if you are having trouble with inflammation or your gut, this post is for you.
Plants make toxins like oxalic acid / oxalate, as like humans they want to survive, but plants can’t run away or bite.
Oxalate is a simple molecule and it binds to calcium and other minerals which means it can affect mineral absorption. Oxalate also cause sulphate depletion / loss and sulphate is key for making connective tissue, detoxification, blood flow and the cardiovascular system.
Oxalates crystallizes under certain conditions, including inside our bodies. The best studied is high oxalate and kidney stones. These crystals formed this way can be irritating, damaging and painful to our tissues where they cause or increase inflammation. So this will exacerbate joint pain in conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
When a person is inflamed, biochemically they can struggle to lose weight as inflammation drives fat storage and synthesis. Calcium oxalate have also been found in thyroid tissue and appears to accumulate with age and may contribute to hypothyroidism and weight gain , particularly in women over 50 who have additional factors which affect thyroid function.
Oxalates also effect how the mitochondria function  and produce ATP energy, which will affect our energy levels. Dysfunctional mitochondria are linked to many diseases other than just “being tired”. Very small oxalate crystals can cross the cell membrane and damage other organells inside the cell.
Oxalates are made in the body in small amounts as they are a metabolite of vitamin C. Too much oxalate is made if you over consume vitamin C or high levels of fructose.
There are species of bacteria in the gut, oxalobacter formigenes being the main one which break down oxalates so they aren’t harmful. But sadly these can easily be killed off by antibiotics.
If you do have some of the symptoms above or want to prevent them ! You can try lowering your oxalate consumption to see if it helps. (50mg or below)
- Eat fewer high-oxalate foods(for a full list google high oxalate foods) * Spinach, kale, chard, leeksBran flakes, wheat products, other grains * Rhubarb.
- Soy products eg tofu
- Potato chips, French fries.
- Nuts and nut butters, particularly peanuts and almond
- Cocoa / dark chocolate
- Dried fruit, berries
- Avoid dehydration
You can also consume calcium containing food (or a calcium carbonate supplement) with high oxalate food to help oxalate removal as when calcium oxalate is made in the gut it can poo it out.
Excess oxalates in the gut affects the tight junctions between intestinal cells by opening them up, so they let the wrong molecules out of the gut and into the blood. This is “leaky gut”. So often it is better to cut down on oxalates altogether for a while if you have gut issues and see if it makes a difference.
Susan Owens has a vast amount of information on oxalates so if you want more information, check her out if you are interested
- Calcium Oxalate in thyroid glands https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8506623
- Oxalates and mitochndrial dysfunction https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213231717307565