Are these High Oxalate foods destroying your body?

Are these High Oxalate foods destroying your body?

Our guest poster, Sally Norton, B.S., MPH, is an expert in oxalates, compounds found in many so-called healthy foods that can, in excessive amounts, cause chronic pain and create havoc with your health.

What is oxalate and how can it impact your health?
1. Oxalic acid: What is it?
  1.  A naturally occurring tiny molecule that is a toxic, corrosive acid
  2.  When it has minerals attached to it, it is called Oxalate. (chemically a salt)
    (E.g. sodium oxalate, potassium oxalate, magnesium oxalate, calcium oxalate)
    Oxalate likes to form crystals. Most kidney stones contain calcium oxalate.
  3.  Find additional information here: Oxalates
2. Where does oxalic acid come from?
  1.  Plants make it, possibly for mineral management, seed germination, or self-defense
  2. You eat it, in many foods. It comes in many forms, both dissolved and as crystals, in a variety of shapes and sizes
    1.  Some foods have a lot of it, some have very little 
    2. Examples of High Oxalate Foods: beans, grains, bran, sesame and other seeds, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts, swiss chard, spinach, beets, potatoes, chocolate, rhubarb, figs, kiwi, blackberries, black pepper, cumin, turmeric. 
    3. Examples of Low Oxalate Foods:
      meats, dairy, eggs, fats and oils, and other non-plant foods
      arugula, avocado, Bok Choy, cabbage, cauliflower, cilantro, cucumber, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, mushrooms, green peas, watercress
  3.  Your body makes it. Oxalate is a metabolic waste product in mammals with no known function
    1.  Higher amounts are made when:
      1.  Deficient in B6, or
      2.  High doses of vitamin C are taken or injected
  4.  Some fungi make it, possibly for mineral management, especially in soil
    1.  Can be made by Aspergillus fungi living in the body
3. How can oxalate harm you?
  1.  The body has no way to disarm oxalate and must excrete it. When cells are required to handle oxalate they are moving it or “managing” it, not metabolizing it. This is dangerous work for a cell.
  2.  It steals minerals from your diet and your body and makes them useless (it is an “anti-nutrient”)
    1.  Soluble forms of oxalate (sodium oxalate and potassium oxalate) can be picked up by other minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, etc. This locks up the mineral. Oxalate may also bind with toxic metals such as lead, mercury, aluminum, or cadmium.
    2.  Mineral deficiency causes growth, reproductive, and other problems
  3.  It is corrosive to the lining of the digestive system, may cause leaky gut or other GI diseases. Some Oxalate crystals have a needle shape known to perforate mucus membrane cells.
  4.  Challenges the kidneys and can overwhelm their capacity to remove oxalates from the blood
  5.  Forms nanocrystals and microcrystals that can collect in the body and irritate tissues
    1.  Oxalate crystals can collect in any body tissue, even the plaque in your arteries
    2.  kidney stones usually contain oxalate crystals
  6.  Soluble forms of oxalate are absorbed from food and trigger inflammation, causing:
    1.  Membrane and mitochondria damage, and cell death (fatigue and energy issues)
    2.  Nerve cell damage, pain, and functional problems associated with the brain and nerves
    3.  Dysfunction of cells, organs, glands
    4.  Depletion of the antioxidant glutathione in cells. Low levels of glutathione can generate superoxide radicals, increasing toxic stress causing early cell death. Glutathione is especially important in the liver for the detoxification of chemicals. It is also important in preserving brain health.
    5.  Cell communication problems (autoimmunity, hormonal issues, neurological issues). For example: Oxalate can confuse and stress the immune system, creating auto-immune symptoms.
  7.  Destroys connective tissue’s key building block (hyaluronic acid)
    1.  makes it much harder to fully recover from injury, even surgery
    2.  can weaken or destabilize joints, bones, skin (skin may be thin or easily damaged)
    3.  can make you injury prone
  8.  May deplete the B-vitamins, B6 and biotin
    1.  Uses up vitamin B6, possibly initiating a vicious cycle. B6 deficiency increases internal production of oxalate, increases oxalate load, further depleting B6, and so on.
    2.  Can alter biotin metabolism, depleting biotin
  9.  Can lead to a wide range of problems, throughout the body
    1.  Kidney damage
    2.  Damage to intestines, may contribute to the development of celiac disease and “leaky gut”
    3.  Breathing problems, mucus production, and congestion
    4.  Brain problems – sleep, mood, behavior, cognition, organizational ability, autism
    5.  Urinary issues and genital pain
    6.  Gum and tooth problems
    7.  Bone and connective tissue instability
    8.  Contributes to aging, and can make you feel old prematurely
  10.  These problems don’t always cause obvious symptoms. Onset may include a generalized malaise, poor concentration, some sort of “-itis” (gastroenteritis, tendonitis), joint stiffness, swelling, muscle pain or weakness.
  11.  Oxalate damage is not a sensitivity or allergy. It is a toxicity problem.
    1.  Reversal of oxalate toxicity is an avoidance and excretion issue. It is not a matter of boosting liver function as is typically addressed in “detox” regimens.

(See link for entire article)

Find Providers Who Can Help You Manage Pain with Nutrition

Sally K. Norton is an expert in oxalates. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrtion from Cornell University and a Master of Publich Health Degree from the University of North Carolina. She has been doing health education and research in nutrition for 35 years and provides virtual nutritional coaching and consulting. She became interested in oxalates due to her own personal experience. Her book, Toxic Superfoods: How Oxalate Overload is Making You Sick and How to Get Better was recently published  by Rodale Books.   Learn more at

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