How to Overcome Oxalate Toxicity and Avoid Oxalate Dumping
Green smoothies full of spinach, kale, and made with almond milk may seem like a great idea to clean up your diet. But it also might be the cause of your oxalate toxicity.
Superfoods like spinach, kale, and nuts are high in oxalates, and typically our bodies naturally eliminate them through healthy digestion and elimination. However, if oxalates are not eliminated safely and start to build up, this can lead to many health consequences like painful kidney stones.
Oxalate toxicity leads to high levels of oxalates in the urine or what is referred to as hyperoxaluria. If oxalates are not eliminated properly through the gut, they end up in the kidneys where they don't belong. There are two types of hyperoxaluria, primary and secondary.
There are genetic mutations with primary hyperoxaluria, which is the most common form of oxalate toxicity.
In the case of these genetic variances, you would have to maintain a low oxalate diet and monitor your kidney health. The organic acid test (OAT) will help identify if there is a possible genetic variance that could be the cause of your of your high oxalates.
However, secondary hyperoxaluria has many causes, including increased dietary intake of oxalates, poor gut health, and reduced ability to absorb fat properly. In addition, dysbiosis or imbalances in gut bacteria can lead to increased absorption of oxalates.
Where do We get Oxalates?
The primary source of oxalates is from our diet. Juicing with vegetables and fruits like spinach, kale, beetroot, kiwi, along with nut milk, is exceptionally high in oxalates. Along with increased fluids from the juicing, the oxalates are more readily absorbed into the gut and not adequately eliminated.
We also can get high oxalates from excessive intake of the building blocks of oxalates as our bodies produce oxalates.
For instance, over supplementing with vitamin C, a significant nutrient needed to form oxalates, can increase production.
The compound hydroxyproline, a major component of collagen, is also broken down into oxalates.
Could consuming supplemental collagen that is so popular these days lead to high oxalates?
The answer to this is not clear, but with poor gut health and nutrient deficiencies like vitamin B6, supplementing with collagen can potentially lead to oxalate toxicity.
How do We Get Oxalate Toxicity?
One of the significant causes of oxalate toxicity is poor digestion and fat malabsorption. When we eat foods high in fat, the liver and gallbladder release bile.
Bile does two things; breakdowns fat into small globules for easy absorption and binds oxalate to calcium for elimination.
Without bile from your liver and gallbladder, you would not be able to absorb and digest fat properly. Also, oxalates would not be eliminated, leading to oxalate toxicity.
So instead of removing the oxalates, you absorb them instead, increasing your toxicity.
Nutrient deficiencies can also come into play here, especially vitamin B6 as it is a critical co-factor in the breakdown of oxalates into glycine (a significant protein building block).
The microbiome helps to reduce oxalates as they are the energy source for bacteria known as oxalobacter formigenes.
Imbalances in the gut microbiota like candida (yeast) overgrowth can impact the diversity in bacteria, including oxalobacter formigenes that help reduce oxalate absorption. Again, here we are back to the gut.
Calcium with Meals Eliminates Oxalates Safely
Remember that bile can combine oxalates with calcium forming a complex that we cannot absorb. This complex is then eliminated through the stool. By taking calcium supplementation with meals, you can promote the elimination of oxalates safely. And save your kidneys from forming kidney stones.
A great product that contains calcium with other minerals is Pure Encapsulations, Calcium Magnesium Citrate. This supplement also addresses mineral deficiencies like magnesium, often seen with oxalate toxicity.
Remember taking calcium on an empty stomach will lead to oxalate kidney stones; always take it with meals.
You can also eat foods high in calcium like dairy products to help the elimination of oxalates. Ironically, plant-based foods high in calcium are not as effective because the calcium is not readily absorbed.
What are the Symptoms of Oxalate Toxicity?
The number one and most painful symptom of oxalate toxicity is kidney stones. Because oxalates have a crystal-like structure, they can combine with minerals and form complexes. These complexes can become embedded into tissue and glands like the thyroid leading to a myriad of symptoms.
Oxalate absorption causes a deficiency in sulfate, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut, detoxification, and strengthening our bones, ligaments, and tendons.
Wow! Both sulfate and oxalates depend on the same transporter; whatever we have the most of wins. For every oxalate molecule absorbed, we lose a sulfate molecule.
For this reason, symptoms of oxalate toxicity also are related to sulfate deficiency, such as hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances.
- Joint & Nerve Pain
- Eye Pain
- Kidney Stones (calcium oxalate), Gout
- Thyroid Issues – Hormonal Imbalances
- Gluten Intolerance
- IBS – Diarrhea, Constipation or Both
- Neurotransmitter Imbalance – Low Serotonin
- Mineral Deficiencies – Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium
How Do You Determine if You Have Oxalate Toxicity?
The best way to test for oxalate toxicity is the organic acid test (OAT). This test is one of the few tests that currently tests for oxalates levels.
This simple at-home test also tests for candida (yeast) and fungal infections. Candida overgrowth has been found to promote oxalate toxicity and must be addressed to overcome high oxalates.
Other values on the OAT test, like nutrient values, open the door for healing opportunities by addressing the underlying cause of your oxalate toxicity.
How to Overcome Oxalate Toxicity?
Whereas avoiding foods high in oxalates seems like the logical first step, you would also be avoiding some of the keys foods that are high in sulfur like kale.
Kale and other green leafy vegetables are also high in crucial nutrients that help you detox, support methylation, and heal the gut.
Even chocolate contains key antioxidants; won't it be great to eat chocolate without worry about oxalates?
The three key ways to reduce oxalates are to support the liver/gallbladder, address mineral deficiencies, balance the microbiome, and gradually reduce foods high in oxalates.
By gradually reducing foods high in oxalates, you will avoid the condition known as oxalate dumping, making your symptoms worse.
What is Oxalate Dumping?
When you drastically reduce foods that contain oxalates, the oxalates that have accumulated will start to move. Oxalates have a crystal-like structure with sharp edges and create pain as they begin to move out of tissue like the thyroid and into the bloodstream. Symptoms of oxalate dumping are:
- Sandy, Grainy Stool
- Pain w/Urination
- Moodiness, Irritability
- Painful Bowel Movement
To avoid oxalate dumping, start very gradually by reducing high oxalate foods by 5-10% per week. The best way to do this is to start by eliminating the high oxalate foods my Low Oxalate Food Guide.
Better yet, you can use Cronometer that tracks not just your nutrition, but oxalates! End the madness looking at food lists and know how many oxalates you are consuming. You can also set goals and limits on oxalates ensuring you are not going over your limit (depends on how high your oxalates are on your organic acid test).
How do Your Support the Liver/Gallbladder Reducing Oxalates?
By helping your liver and gallbladder to produce bile, you will eliminate the oxalates safely. The added bonus would be improved fat absorption and better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins; A, D, E, and K. Start by making sure you are consuming a diet that contains healthy fats; low-fat diets are the perfect way to clog up the gallbladder and liver.
For additional support and healthy elimination of oxalates and reducing fat malabsorption, I recommend using LV-GB Complex by Designs for Health.
This product contains everything you need to improve gallbladder and liver function. And to eliminate oxalates safely, reducing oxalate toxicity.
LV-GB Complex™ is a comprehensive formula designed to support bile flow for the normal processing and elimination of toxins including oxalates through the specific combination of nutrients and herbs in this formula.
By supporting liver and gallbladder function, LV-GB Complex™ assists with the elimination of fatty substances from the liver, with the digestion and assimilation of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.*
Ditch the Sugar – Balanced Microbiome
Since yeast and fungal overgrowth is often seen with high oxalates, it is recommended that you reduce sugar and fruit to help reduce yeast or candida overgrowth.
By reducing candida overgrowth, you can rebuild the microbiome's diversity, increasing the oxalobacter formigenes that use oxalates for energy.
Ultimately, an organic acid test or at-home stool test like Thorne's Gut Health Test would give you what you the right direction to help rebuild your microbiota with the right probiotics and prebiotics. Just taking probiotics does not improve diversity unless you have removed the overgrowth first and in some cases can make it worse.
To rebalance the gut, you would need to address the overgrowth and “reseed” your garden with the right probiotics and prebiotics.
The best probiotics to help rebalance the gut our soil probiotics – Designs for Health Probiospore Probiotics.
ProbioSpore™ is an industry-leading broad-spectrum, targeted, spore-based probiotic used to optimize gastrointestinal (GI) health.*
Spore-based strains such as Bacillus are vital to the food chain, as they have the intrinsic ability to produce a multitude of enzymes, secretory proteins, antimicrobial compounds, vitamins, and carotenoids helping to rebuild the microbiome and reduce oxalates.
Find Out What is Causing your Oxalate Toxicity
The organic acid test (OAT) is the gold standard for determining if you have oxalate toxicity and how you can overcome high oxalates and enjoy chocolate again!
Too often, we go down the road of eliminating foods hoping to resolve our symptoms. And, don't get down to the cause. For instance, high supplementation with vitamin C (over 500 mg per day) can lead to high oxalates.
Pretty soon, we are eliminating foods that are high in key nutrients, like sulfur, which can worsen your symptoms.
Oxalate toxicity is an excellent example of why just eliminating the foods will not resolve the problem.
And, it will make things worse as so many foods high in oxalates like nuts, kale, spinach, and lentils are high in the nutrients you need to heal the gut, resolve autoimmune, and overcome Cipro toxicity.
My Vibrant Wellness Package test comes complete with an evaluation, guides on how to reduce oxalates, and more. Book a Discovery Chat to learn more today! Included in this package is a genetics evaluation of your oxalate genes. You will need to complete a 23andMe or Ancerstry.com test for your genetic review.
Vibrant Wellness OAT Package
The first steps towards reducing oxalates is to find out the cause.
My Vibrant Wellness Organic Acid Package helps you resolve oxalate toxicity. Now includes oxalate gene evaulation.
1. Primary and secondary hyperoxaluria: Understanding the enigma, Bhasin, et al, World Journal of Nephrology, 2015
2. Bariatric surgery, hyperoxaluria, and nephrolithiasis: A plea for close postoperative management of risk factors, JG Kleinman, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 2007
3. The Green Smoothie Health Fad; This Road to Health Hell This road is Paved with Toxic Oxalate Health Crystals, Dr. William Shaw, Great Plains Labs
4. SLC26A6 and NADC-1 transporters interact to regulate oxalate and citrate homeostasis, Ohana, et al J. Am Soc Nephrol 2013
Eileen Schutte, MS, CN, FMN – One of my biggest passions is to help clients overcome food intolerances like histamine intolerance and sensitivities so that they can enjoy food again. My other passion is nutrigenomics, speaking to your genes through nutrition with focus on digestive health, autoimmune conditions, and skin health. I hold a master's degree in functional nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut graduating Summa Cum Laude. After completing my masters I went on to get my certification in Functional Medicine Nutrition, and am a Certified LEAP Therapist (food sensitivities program). In addition, I am pursuing advanced education in Nutrigenomics through the American College of Nutrition.