How To Flush Oxalates From The Body: A Modern Dietary Problem Behind Many Medical Issues Today

In this article, we will explore, what oxalate is, why it can become a problem, the role of oxalates in the body, what happens if there are too many oxalates, the link between oxalates and Candida overgrowth, and lifestyle habits to help you keep oxalates at normal levels.

What are oxalates?

Oxalates are a plant’s defense mechanism against predators. They come in two forms, oxalic acid and oxalate crystals.

These plant toxin compounds are well handled by the body when they are consumed in moderation. However, the problem arises when there is an excessive accumulation of oxalates in the body.

Oxalate need minerals to bind with to leave the body thus we may experience low electrolyte symptoms if we are eating them in excess. Symptoms like headaches, nausea, fatigue, muscle spasms, cramps or twitching. Oxalate will leave the body through any means it can. The skin. The eyes, nose, or mouth. It can leave via the urine but not before causing inflammation in the bladder which feels like a uti. It can leave through the stool. It can even leave through the female genitalia, the vagina.

High oxalate plant foods would be foods like: sweet potato, chocolate(milk or dark), rhubarb, buckwheat, curly kale, potatoes, nuts or nut products, some seeds like chia, sesame and poppy seeds, quinoa, sorghum, tapioca, arrowroot, amaranth, spices like turmeric, black pepper, curry, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, cinnamon,etc.

Vitamin C supplements can be converted to oxalate by the body. Those with oxalate sensitivity must remain at 250 mg of Vitamin C per day, no more.

Collagen and Bone Broth, both are converted to oxalate by the body

Certain mold strains like Aspergillus can create their own oxalate in the body should you have mold illness.

Why do we develop issues with oxalate?

During the days of early man, the caveman ate seasonally so this controlled their intake of oxalate. Plant food was not available in winter for them. However, nowadays, imports bring us year round access to any plant food we wish. This led mankind to over consume plant foods, which we were never meant to do. Unfortunately, we have minimal defences against oxalate which further supports that plant food was only supposed to be a small part of our diet. We have the mucosal layer of the GI tract and a gut flora called Oxalobacter Formagenes as our defences.

The GI tract becomes leaky from a variety of contributors.

  • Histamine
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Antibiotics
  • Toxins
  • Pesticides
  • Sugar
  • Poor Diets
  • Candida and even Oxalate themselves

This allows for the oxalate into the bloodstream where it circulates and lodges in skin, bone and organs. Leaky gut protocols can be problematic for those with histamine or oxalate issues.L glutamine is a histamine liberator for those with histamine issues.Collagen is converted to oxalate by the body. Bone broth is another source of collagen as well as glycine which are both converted to oxalate by the body and it is high histamine due to long cooking times so a double whammy.There are other ways to try to heal the gut but the question is, with so many contributors to leaky gut, can we heal it permanently or perfectly?

Oxalobacter Formagenes, is a gut bacteria whose sole purpose is to process oxalate in food. We don’t have a ton of this gut flora and it is very vulnerable to antibiotic use and is often killed off. They have tried to make a probiotic form of it in the past but it failed. There are other specific bacteria that can take over processing oxalate in the absence of Oxalobacter, however whether we have Oxalobacter or not, eating an excessive amount of plant food will overwhelm whatever gut flora is tasked with oxalate processing and we will end up absorbing a lot of the oxalate instead. We begin storing oxalate in the tissue as a fetus all the way to now. When we reach the point of saturation, the body starts to exhibit signs like histamine and inflammation surges, low mineral counts, low vitamin D Or B counts, joint, muscle or bone pain, candida overgrowth, early arthritis, SIBO, breast cancer, Salicylate and/ or Sulfur Intolerance, autoimmune issues like Hashimotos, wonky thyroids, gall bladder pain, sludge, or stones, kidney pain and stones, calcium deposits on fingers, toes or knees, osteopenia or osteoporosis, diverticulitis, Interstitial Cystitis (feels like a uti but isn’t, there is no bacterial growth upon culture), Vulvodynia, or digestive issues. It can affect many other organs like hearts, lungs or brains depending on where it chooses to land. It tends towards areas of inflammation, previous injury or areas of least blood flow.

For that reason, it’s important to learn how to flush oxalates from the body effectively to help maintain overall health and well-being.

Oxalate Intolerance

Oxalate intolerance (hyperoxaluria) happens when the body has difficulty processing and eliminating oxalates effectively. Oxalates are filtered by the kidneys and excreted through the urine. It can also come through the stool, the skin, the eyes, mouth, nose,etc. However, oxalate intolerance begins when the oxalate start to accumulate in the body.

There are different causes for oxalate intolerance. Here are the most common causes.

  • Genetic factors: Some people may inherit genetic mutations that affect the ability to metabolize and eliminate oxalates efficiently.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease can affect the absorption of nutrients, including oxalates.
  • Gut dysbiosis: An imbalance in the gut microbiome can affect oxalate metabolism. Certain bacteria can break down oxalates, reducing their absorption.
  • Surgical interventions: Some surgeries, mainly those involving the gastrointestinal tract (like weight loss surgery and small intestine resections), may increase the risk of oxalate intolerance.

Recognizing oxalate intolerance may be challenging since some symptoms can overlap with other health issues. Common signs and symptoms of oxalate intolerance include:

  • Kidney stones
  • Digestive issues (bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach cramps)
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Increased urination and urgency
  • Fatigue
  • Low electrolytes, low vitamin D or Bs

If you suffer from these symptoms, it is difficult to find help as most doctors do not understand or recognize oxalate issues. If they are aware of oxalate issues, they normally see it as only an issue with kidney stones when in fact oxalate affects the whole body.

The best resources to learn about your issue is

Trying Low Oxalates facebook support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TryingLowOxalates

The TLO group also has a sub group, TLO Spreadsheet, which can help with Oxalate values of foods, but you must join their TLO group first above.

Histamine Intolerance facebook support group (covers oxalate as well)?: https://www.facebook.com/groups/histamineintoleranceprivate

There are some holistic practitioners that understand oxalate but it is rare to find. Please establish their understanding before you sign up with them.

Recognizing Oxalate Intolerance

Recognizing oxalate intolerance can be challenging. However, there are ways to help you understand the condition. Here are some steps to help you identify oxalate intolerance or sensitivity. Do keep in mind that it doesn’t replace seeking professional help.

  • Keep a food diary: Documenting your food and tracking when the symptoms occur can provide valuable insights. This can help you identify patterns and potential trigger foods.
  • Great Plains Labs OAT test: This test is not always accurate as you need to be dumping oxalate at the time of testing or you will get a false negative.
  • Genetic testing: In some cases, genetic testing may reveal factors that can contribute to oxalate intolerance.

The Oxalate and Candida Connection

Candida, or Candida albicans, is a type of yeast (fungus) that naturally inhabits several body parts, like the mouth, throat, gut, and genitals. In healthy people, Candida exists in balance with other microorganisms, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption.

However, then there is Candida overgrowth, which can lead to candidiasis, a yeast infection affecting several body parts.

Candida overgrowth can occur due to several factors, including a poor immune system, antibiotics, hormonal changes, poor lifestyle choices, and diabetes.

While the relationship between oxalate issues and Candida is not fully understood, some evidence suggests that oxalate intolerance or an increased intake of oxalates may contribute to Candida’s overgrowth. Candida will go aggressive with the presence of oxalate and convert to its hypha form, penetrating the gi tract with little filaments.

Here are some possible ways in which oxalate issues can potentially lead to Candida overgrowth.

  • Impact on gut health: High oxalate levels can cause dysbiosis, creating an environment that promotes Candida overgrowth or SIBO. SIBO can also cause oxalate issues as well.
  • Effects on immune function: Oxalates may trigger an immune response. If the immune system is busy trying to fight this immune response, it may be less effective at keeping Candida in check.
  • Gut permeability: High oxalate levels may contribute to increased gut permeability (leaky gut), allowing Candida and its toxins to enter the bloodstream more easily.

Keep in mind that while there can be a connection between oxalate levels and Candida overgrowth, individual responses may vary. If you suspect of either condition, it is best to speak with a health professional.

Overlapping Symptoms: Oxalate Intake and Candida Overgrowth

Both oxalate-related issues and Candida overgrowth can manifest with symptoms that may overlap, making it challenging to differentiate between the two conditions. Here are some common symptoms shared by both.

  • Gastrointestinal distress: Stomach pains, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation can occur in both conditions.
  • Urinary symptoms: Frequent urination, urgency, or discomfort during urination may suggest both conditions.
  • Skin issues: In both conditions, you may experience itching, hives, rashes, or eczema.
  • Fatigue: Chronic fatigue or a general feeling of tiredness can happen in both.
  • Joint pain: Some people may experience joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
  • Mental health: Brain fog, lack of focus, mood swings, and irritability can be associated with both conditions.

Identifying whether symptoms are due to oxalate-related issues, Candida overgrowth, or another underlying condition is difficult.

Health professionals can conduct the necessary tests and evaluations to accurately diagnose the condition contributing to your symptoms. Once a diagnosis is established, the health professional can create a tailored treatment plan that addresses your needs.

Dietary Approaches to Managing Oxalates

Consuming foods high in oxalates may increase the risk of kidney stones or lead to high oxalate levels. Identifying the foods that are high in oxalates will play a crucial role in helping keep oxalate levels low.

Here are some examples of foods that are high in oxalates

  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and beet greens.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, peanuts, and sesame seeds.
  • Fruits: rhubarb, blackberries, raspberries, pomegranate, and figs.
  • Grains: bran flakes, wheat germ, buckwheat, and whole wheat products.
  • Beverages: black tea and certain fruit juices. Smoothies and juicing lead to high oxalate intake.
  • Chocolate: cocoa powder, cocoa products, and chocolate products.

If your doctor determines you have high oxalate levels, a low oxalate diet may be the best course of action. Work with a health professional to help provide a personalized eating plan. If you are going to start a low oxalate diet, please visit one of the sites I mentioned above for more specific instructions. However, Doctors often have little knowledge in the diet, and reducing oxalate too quickly can land you in hospital. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Gradual reduction: It’s often best to gradually reduce high oxalate foods from your diet to avoid potential discomfort or nutrient deficiencies. Reducing too quickly can cause massive dumping which would send histamine and inflammation very high and minerals and sulfur plummeting. Make sure you keep a food diary to track your intake.
  • Supplement with minerals across the day: Low dose minerals across the day as oxalate will bind with your minerals to leave the body bringing on low electrolyte symptoms. Example about 100 mg of magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium across the day. Breakfast, lunch, supper, and bedtime. Adjust to what your body wants. If 100 mg is too much, open capsules and trickle dose and work up to capsules. Mineral water or coconut water are also helpful.
  • Fast dumping help: When Tapering down high oxalate foods, one at a time, over weeks to months sometimes we reduce too quickly. If you start dumping too quickly, add back some higher ox food like two squares of dark chocolate or a spoonful of sweet potato.
  • Choose low oxalate alternatives: Replace high oxalate foods with lower oxalate alternatives. For example, instead of spinach, opt for lettuce, and instead of almond butter, choose sunflower seed butter.
  • Pay attention to portion, cooking methods, and variety: Even avoiding high oxalate foods is not enough. You must also pay attention to portion, cooking method and variety in allowed foods. These dictate levels of oxalate as well. Every food requires some different measures to lower oxalate. Some require consumption when raw. Boiling is another way. It is the only cooking method that reduces oxalate significantly. Oxalate will come out into water during the boiling princess. Discard the water, do not use it for cooking or a broth.

Calcium And Oxalate Levels

Calcium, among other minerals like magnesium, have a crucial role in helping manage oxalate levels. Consuming calcium-rich foods with higher oxalate meals can cause the oxalates to bind with calcium, reducing their absorption.

High-calcium foods include dairy products, calcium supplements, and lower oxalate leafy greens.

Oxalate Management in the Body: Calcium Oxalate Crystals

Calcium oxalate is a very tiny molecule that can form in tissues and fluids in the body. As the name suggests, these are made when calcium and oxalate combine. While some calcium oxalate crystals are normal and harmless, excessive or large crystal formation can lead to health issues, particularly kidney stones.

Oxalate Dumping: What It Is And How It Occurs

Oxalate dumping is when the body starts eliminating the oxalate built up in its tissues, which leads to oxalates hitting the bloodstream and urine at a higher rate than usual. This release can occur when a person makes dietary or lifestyle changes that can affect oxalate metabolism (following a low oxalate diet or taking medication) and intake.

Oxalate dumping can lead to temporary symptoms (until the body rids of excess oxalates). Average dump time is 6-12 months but can go longer than that depending on your oxalate intake over the years. You accumulate oxalate from the day you start eating as a child to now. Some of the accumulation happens even as a fetus. Mom passes oxalate to the fetus. Mom and baby dump oxalate at birth.

Common symptoms include:

  • Increased urinary frequency and urgency
  • Passing small stones in the urine
  • Gastrointestinal problems (bloating, gas, and stomach cramps)
  • Flare-ups (joint pain and skin issues)
  • Histamine and inflammation symptoms are also prominent in dumping.
  • Minerals are depleted when dumping as oxalate need to bind with minerals to leave the body. Low electrolyte symptoms are also common like headaches, nausea, fatigue, muscle spasms,cramps and twitching
  • Sulfur can also deplete which can lead to Salicylate intolerance. Salicylate is another plant toxin. This issue is fixable with the oxalate diet and epsom salt foot baths to replenish sulfur. A lifelong low to medium oxalate diet must be maintained in order to prevent symptoms and food intolerances from returning.
  • Sulfur Intolerance can also develop. Oxalate blocks sulfation pathways causing sulfur to build up in the gut leading to ammonia formation. This can bring on more symptoms. This too is fixable with the oxalate diet, epsom footbaths( go carefully as sulfur issues may cause some intolerance symptoms with sulfate as one of epsom’s ingredients). Supplements like Molybdenum and chlorophyll are helpful here. B vitamins, magnesium are also helpful. It is not wise to cut sulfur completely out, lower it temporarily but work on slowly increasing it back.

Strategies To Flush Oxalates From The Body

If you think you are experiencing oxalate dumping, there are ways to help you reduce oxalate levels and help flush these oxalates from the body.

  • Drink plenty of water: Proper hydration is crucial for preventing kidney stones and diluting oxalates in the urine. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Increase calcium intake: Ensure you are eating enough dietary calcium. As mentioned, calcium can bind to oxalate, reducing its absorption. In fact, magnesium intake can also help here. Oxalate bind to minerals to leave the body.
  • Lower oxalate diet: If recommended by a health professional, follow a lower oxalate diet. However, most doctors don’t recognize oxalate issues so it is best to pursue a lower oxalate but do it slowly. Stick to a lower oxalate diet once all stores are dumped from the body. Do not return to high oxalate eating.
  • Vitamin B6: Some studies have shown that vitamin B6 may help reduce oxalate levels. B vitamins are sulfur based and are part of the detox ingredients of the body. Some of the b vitamins facilitate oxalate leaving the body. Keep to a lower dose so as not to dump too fast.

Conclusion

High levels of oxalates may significantly impact a person’s overall health and well-being. But, understanding its causes and identifying the condition is the first step toward effective management.

Flushing oxalates from the body is essential for preventing kidney stones and maintaining overall health. Ensure you stay hydrated, consume calcium-rich foods, moderate oxalate consumption, and cook your food thoroughly. If you suspect you have high levels of oxalates (or oxalate intolerance), it’s essential to consult with a health professional. They can conduct appropriate tests and recommend dietary and lifestyle adjustments to help you manage and alleviate the condition.

Keep in mind that managing oxalate often involves making strict dietary changes, so it’s important to work closely with a health professional for personalized guidance and to avoid nutrient deficiency.