Oxalates (oxalic acid) are natural compounds commonly found in plant foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, or legumes. In the intestine, oxalates are bound to calcium in your body, which is excreted from your urine but easily produces oxalate crystals. Oxalates are a natural molecule, but they have no nutritional need. They easily produce kidney stones and may produce licky guts and joint pain.
Oxalates are a kind of antinutrient, and plants protect them against predators. It is a defense chemical weapon to avoid being eaten.
How Do They Work?
These antinutrients have a bitter flavor that tries to prevent animals from eating them. All green leaves like chard, kale, or spinach are bitter, and they are oxalate-rich foods.
High oxalate consumption can make you feel sick, inhibit the digestive tract, and can even be poisonous.
Plant foods contain a lot of antinutrients as a defense. That is why we usually cook them to reduce the side effects of eating them. For example, we can not digest uncooked beans or row rhubarb leaves can be really poisonous.
Oxalates reduce your ability to absorb nutrients from foods. For example, it binds to other minerals like calcium or iron and prevents your body from absorbing them.
How Excess Oxalates Can Harm the Body
Most healthy people can consume foods with oxalate, and their bodies can eliminate them without producing symptoms, but for unbalanced patients or patients with metabolic issues, oxalates may cause a number of undesired effects on our bodies:
We can find small amounts of calcium and oxalates in the urinary tract, which is normal, and most people have no problem with that. However, some patients are more susceptible, and they tend to produce calcium oxalate crystals when the oxalates bind to the calcium. Urologists would recommend a low oxalate diet for these patients to prevent kidney stones.
Oxalate may Prevent Nutrition Absorption:
Oxalates tend to bind to minerals like calcium or iron in the intestines and reduce our capacity for absorption.
For example, if you eat spinach or chard, which are high oxalate foods, it would be very difficult for your body to absorve the calcium present in those vegetables.
Possible Cause of IBS
Our Liver can synthesize oxalates, but it does it when we have an excess of Vitamin C supplements, yeast, and fructose. This means that high fruit intake and fungal overgrowth will increase oxalate levels in the body and tend to produce systemic inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease.
Negative Symptoms of High Oxalate Foods:
When there is a high oxalate content in the blood, it may produce the next symptoms:
Chondrocalcinosis of the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints
Acute tubular necrosis
Impaired ejection fraction
Papules and nodules on the face and digits
Retinal oxalate deposition
Nerve and Muscle
Axon loss and demyelination
Jaw bone and root resorption
Erythropoietin stimulating agent resistant anemia
Cystic bone changes
Dense metaphyseal bands
Increased bone density
You can check the whole list in more detail in this article:
What Foods are High in Oxalates?
Most plant foods have some level of oxalic acid, but usually, the highest concentrations can be found in the seeds and leaves of vegetables.
The most commonly used oxalate-rich foods are:
Spinach: A half cup of cooked spinach may contain roughly 1500 mg.
Rhubarb: 1 cup up to 1080 mg.
Potatoes: especially on the skin, can have up to 100 mg.
Beets: can have around 150 mg per cup.
Chocolate: One cup of hot chocolate can have around 65 mg.
Soy products: 1 cup of soy milk or yogurt can have around 350 mg
Almonds: 1 once of almonds aport 120 mg
Raspberries are one of the fruits with the highest amount of oxalates, up to 50 mg per cup.
A low oxalate diet is considered under 100 mg per day
Oxalate Dumping Symptoms
If a patient starts a low oxalate diet very drastically, they might feel symptoms of Oxalate dumping. When our bowels are producing oxalate excretion, the patient can feel a strong detox reaction and will experience symptoms like flu, headaches, digestive tract issues, fatigue, etc.
Allergic type symptoms
Generalized Joint pain
Headaches and Migraines
IBS and digestive complications
How to Avoid Symptoms of Oxalate Dumping:
If you have kidney stones (calcium oxalate kidney stones), autoimmune diseases, or inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis, then you probably need to reduce your oxalate intake. In order to reduce a strong cleaning reaction, you should follow your health provider's instructions.
Some common ways to reduce oxalate dumping symptoms are:
Reducing High Oxalate Intake Gradually
Before you start making changes yourself, you need to consult an expert in this area. Never reduce food unnecessarily, and always consult an approved doctor who supervises you. Reducing the intake of high oxalates with diets like the carnivore diet can help relieve your painful joints or urinary symptoms. However, switching between low-oxalate foods can cause serious side effects. You could have caused “oxalate dumping,” something you read about recently. When you have an oxalate diet, slowly reduce the consumption of oxalate-rich foods.
Calcium Citrate Splemmentation
It is known that the increase in calcium intake decreases oxalate absorption. The calcium binds with the oxalates in the stomach and intestines before it arrives in the kidneys; that way, it reduces the formation of kidney stones. So, it is advisable to increase the use of dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
If a patient has Vitamine B6 deficiency, they will build up more oxalate. That deficiency is not common. Only patients with primary hyperoxaluria can benefit from Vit B 6 to reduce urinary oxalates.
Chinese medicine, both Acupuncture and Herbal medicine, can be excellent treatments to ease the symptoms of oxalate dumping.
Chinese medicine doesn't treat oxalate dumping symptoms; Chinese medicine helps balance the body so your own body can do a better job.
Customized Chinese Herbal formulas can help the body eliminate oxalates and any other form of toxins, improve kidney function, treat leaky gut, help with painful bowel movements, reduce the risk of kidney stones, improve thyroid function, etc.
Acupuncture influences the nervous system, helping to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic to help the body be able to work in the most optimal conditions. Through this mechanism, it can help reduce oxalate dumping side effects as well as help improve the function of any organ in the whole body.
(This article is not medical advice; if you are having a health issue, you should contact your health provider.)