Ask the Health Expert: A Problem with Plants

Oxalates are natural compounds found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. However, there is growing concern about oxalates in our food. Oxalic acid is made by plants as it is important to their survival. Free oxalic acid is a water-soluble ion which combines with minerals to form oxalates, resulting in crystals of various shapes and sizes. Calcium has a great affinity for oxalic acid and together form crystals which are very sharp and needle like with barbed tips. These crystals, called raphides, enhance the plants defenses against predators like insects and plant eating animals including humans. Oxalic acid steals minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc from the body causing mineral deficiencies creating problems with health, tissues, and organs. The oxalate crystals are sharp and abrasive causing pain irritation and distress. Calcium oxalates precipitate in tendons, fascia which is the connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place.

New science and clinical experience have revealed some serious problems with oxalates. Traditionally oxalate problems were only investigated in relation to kidney stone pathology, but recent investigations have shown to be a factor in many chronic conditions, digestive and urological conditions, autoimmune disorders, and neurological conditions. Oxalates could be a hidden source of headaches, urinary pain, genital irritation, joint pain, muscle pain, intestinal or eye pain, mood conditions, anxiety, sleep problems, weakness, atherosclerosis, prostatitis and burning feet. Oxalates affect the mito-chondrial function leading to fatigue and muscle soreness and creating inflammation causing oxidative stress and free radicals.

The trend of modern day “healthy” eating is moving towards a culture of “plant based” whole foods and moving away from the consumption of animal products. There seems to be a lack of awareness of the toxicity of oxalates in foods particularly by professionals who should be better informed. Oxalates form in tissues other than kidneys but this fact has been somewhat ignored and certainly has not been researched in depth. The biochemistry of oxalates has been neglected and doctors rarely test for oxalates that could be the cause of many health problems. Over loading with oxalates can seriously damage cell function.

These days the “get healthy” trend has led to over consumption of alternative nut milks, sweet potato, spinach, quinoa all of which are high in oxalates. These types of supposedly healthy foods are now being pushed as healthier choices. Year-round availability has given us access to high oxalate foods making them more plentiful and affordable. We are moving closer and closer to a plant-based food culture which is nutritionally flawed.

Professionally trained, licensed dietitians have a very vague and limited grasp of information relating to high oxalates in certain foods. Suggesting to clients that they should eat leafy greens becomes somewhat of a conundrum when we compare oxalate values for two cups of arugula having only 3mg of oxalates and romaine lettuce even less, when compared to a two-cup serving of spinach which contains 600mg of oxalates. This new trend that has led people to believe that eating small frequent meals and snacking on nuts, seeds, chips made from plantains, bananas, sweet potato, and beets are healthier choices, but they are all high in oxalates and much worse than white potato chips.

By reducing oxalate consumption, many people have found incredible relief from a wide range of symptoms which doctors were unable to relieve.  A drastic change in diet can trigger an upsetting reaction.  It would be advisable to take stock of the diet you follow presently and tabulate the oxalate values of the foods you are consuming. The best plan is to gradually lower the oxalate intake to reach a moderate level of oxalate consumption of about 250mg per day, as a drastic reduction in oxalates can be toxic. Stick with the diet and record any change in symptoms.

All the information I have written herein I found in a most valuable book entitled.

“Toxic Superfoods” by Sally K. Norton MPH.

This book I would strongly recommend that everyone should make it a must in their library. It contains a wealth of information that is essential to the health and wellbeing of all.

WRITTEN BY: NATHALIE McNEILL, Fountain Head Health Store, Fergus

519-787-5123 | fountainhead@cogeco.net

Author: LivingSpaces

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