Do you avoid dairy? Drink green juices/smoothies? Then this article may be of interest.
Trying to obtain enough calcium from green vegetables such as spinach can be difficult and runs the risk of developing health problems such as kidney stones. Leafy greens, chard, kale, rhubarb, cocoa, nuts and seeds contain an anti nutrient called oxalic acid which is bound to minerals such as calcium.
One of the main health concerns about oxalate is that it can bind to minerals in the gut and prevent the body from absorbing them. For example, spinach is high in calcium and oxalate, which prevents a lot of the calcium from being absorbed into the body as it’s bound together as calcium oxalate.
Once consumed, oxalate can further bind to minerals in our gut to form compounds, including calcium oxalate and iron oxalate. This mostly occurs in the colon, but can also take place in the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. For most people, these compounds are then eliminated in the stool or urine. However, for sensitive individuals, high-oxalate diets have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones and other health problems.
Fat malabsorption due to bile insufficiency or gallbladder removal is a risk factor for developing kidney stones as free fatty acids combine with minerals such as calcium and allow free oxalates to be absorbed into the body. Some of the oxalate you eat can be broken down by bacteria in the gut, which happens before it can bind to minerals. One of them, Oxalobacter formigenes, actually uses it as an energy source. It significantly reduces the amount your body absorbs.
However, some people don't have much of this bacteria in their gut, antibiotics for instance are known to decrease the number of O. formigenes colonies.
Should you be concerned about oxalates? It’s not a simple yes or no, but if you have any history of gut issues, antibiotic use, fat malabsorption, B6 or B1 deficiency, high Vitamin C use or Candida overgrowth or low mineral status then you may need to investigate further with an informed naturopath or nutritionist. Symptoms of oxalate sensitivity include:
* joint inflammation
* digestive problems
* skin rashes
* behavioural issues (including anxiety/depression and bed wetting)
* red, burning eyes
* chronic candida
My recommendation if you suspect a sensitivity, would be to avoid raw spinach and limit other high oxalate foods. At the very least steam the spinach first and combine with calcium from dairy
or a calcium citrate supplement to ensure the oxalic acid isn’t absorbed into the body.