If you eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and even dark chocolate, you probably think you don't have anything to worry about. But for some people, there's a compound in these foods that can cause inflammatory conditions, autoimmune issues, and mineral deficiencies. Some experts even think they can cause autism.
This compound is oxalate, a highly reactive compound that's abundant in spinach, nuts, dark chocolate and coffee. It's an important compound that your body makes and utilizes every day. For most people, it's a regular part of life that doesn't cause any problems. But there are times when oxalate can cause serious problems. If you've heard of oxalate, you're probably thinking kidney stones. Most kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate. I won't get into all the science that causes oxalate to react with calcium and other minerals. But when your body doesn't handle oxalate well, it can interfere with the duties of many other positively charged ions like magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, and more.
This typically happens when you have "leaky gut syndrome." Leaky gut occurs when your small intestine allows food particles, nutrients, and other junk to move through the wall of the intestine and into the bloodstream. Oxalate is a compound that can move through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream, where it can react with any positively charged ions. This can cause allergies, autoimmune issues, and inflammation. If you have any of these conditions, it's possible oxalates are the culprit. One way to find out is to go on a low-oxalate diet. Many people who do this find that these conditions reverse within a few weeks. But this is a tough diet, as many very beneficial foods contain oxalates. These are the foods you want to be eating — not avoiding.
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So is there a better way to deal with oxalates? If oxalates bother you, then you’ll have to modify your diet to some degree until you can heal your digestive tract. You don’t want to eat more than 50 mg of oxalate a day if your body doesn’t handle it well. That’s hard to do, as one serving of spinach contains 50 mg. But there are other foods that you can focus on. For instance, fruits like avocados, lemons, and grapefruit have a low level of oxalates, as do most berries, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
Most animal protein contains very little or no oxalates, so feel free to eat these foods. Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, and zucchini are low in oxalate as well. Dairy (milk, cheese, and yogurt) and eggs don't contain any oxalate either.
You also need to make sure you're taking a good probiotic, such as Advanced Probiotic Formula, every day. When your gut bacteria are healthy, it will usually metabolize the oxalates and help remove the excess through your stool. This also will help heal a leaky gut.
Finally, make sure you're getting plenty of fiber. You need 30 mg of fiber a day to avoid many of the digestive problems that people suffer from today. This is especially important if you're eating a high protein diet. Taking organic psyllium seed fiber can help push oxalate out of the digestive tract faster and prevent many of the problems it can cause.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.