What does spinach have in common with potato chips and rhubarb? If you guessed high levels of oxalate, you would be correct. Read on, if you want to know more about it and how it might be impacting your health negatively.
Strangely, many of the high oxalate foods are actually what we consider healthy foods. They are primarily found in plant foods, such as vegetables (spinach, broccoli, carrots, celery, etc.), fruits (most berries, oranges, figs, etc.), grains (wheat, etc.), legumes, spices, herbs and almost all nuts and seeds. When too much oxalate is absorbed into the bloodstream via the gut, it can combine with calcium to form sharp calcium-oxalate crystals. These sharp crystals can wedge themselves into almost any tissue in the body and cause damage, inflammation and pain. If you tend to form kidney stones or suffer from fibromyalgia you should get on a low oxalate diet as soon as possible. In fact, anybody suffering from pain syndromes, such as arthritis might give this diet a try to see if it improves their symptoms.
Most people can safely metabolize and process oxalate, but those whose gut is compromised (intestinal permeability) due to poor digestion, inflammation, prolonged diarrhea or overuse of antibiotics should also alter their diets.
There are ways to reduce the amount of oxalate in your food. For example, boiling the food significantly reduces the amount of oxalate. Another thing to try is to take a citrate-based calcium supplement, which binds to the oxalate and can then be eliminated. Taking care of your gut is essential in keeping oxalate levels in check. To help with this, we recommend consuming fermented foods and/or taking a probiotic supplement.
Research is still uncovering more and more about this anti-nutrient. It may be a missing piece of the puzzle in your health struggle.