Hi, I've been eating Paleo since October. In February I was found to have blood in my urine and am having other bladder/urine problems. The urology work-up came back fine but my bladder and urine are still not normal. I did some research and I believe the urinary problems may be caused by high oxalate foods. I had been eating a lot of sweet potatoes, carrots, nuts, beets, etc. I am so miserable right now that I started adding brown rice to my diet because I was not feeling good and my blood sugar was low in addition to these urinary problems. I'm not so sure the rice is helping either. My concern is how to do Paleo without eating high oxalate foods and what Paleo foods can I eat so that I stop losing weight and feeling so miserable? Thanks. Therese
asked byTherese (20)
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on March 18, 2011
at 08:12 PM
Some key facts need to be remembered with oxalates. We usually get rid of 98 to 99% of the stuff in our stool provided our gut is not leaky! The biggest issue with oxlates is that if one has a leaky gut you can absorb over 50% of them from the small bowel via the paracellular transport pathway. This is where most large proteins and molecules get absorbed. Oxalate is present in a lot of plants and fruit that we eat. The oxalates act much like phyates and bind mineral metals at alarmingly high rates. That is why Magnesium is so low in the SAD diet and on blood tests. It also binds Ca, Mg, Mn, Zn, Cu, K. It is especially high in almost all seeds and nuts, but in some more than others. Ordinarily, the gut won't absorb much of the oxalate from the diet because most of the oxalate will be metabolized by the flora or pass with the stool. We also know those with celiac disease have the highest levels of oxalates in the blood and are especially prone to kindey disease from the high levels.
So anyone with a leaky gut really needs to fix it with dietary changes stat. That is the best way to avoid it. Most say avoid the foods with high levels of oxalates but that makes no sense if you have a good gut because we absorb a small amount. Fix your gut and you really only absorb small amounts. That is my medical advice and the advice of our nephrologists. One side note.....if you have a B6 thiamine or magnesium deficiency the body will make endogenous oxalates to offset that combination of dietary deficiencies to help functioning of the gut. Another scenario where we upregualte endogenous oxalate production is when there is excess Vitamin C from diet and high levels of fructose in the diet! Remember that fructose and vitamin C tend to be found in nature together often. And now that we mass produce HFCS we are seeing this issue raised in juices and sodas. Big issue.
on March 18, 2011
at 07:25 PM
I'd suggest taking a look at the Perfect Health Diet. To be honest, besides some seasonal rhubarb, I'm not a big oxalate eater. Never much liked those sort of foods. Brown rice has some oxalates. I use a white rice + meat diet to keep my weight up. Some of my favorite white rice dishes are congee, arroz caldo, idli, and dduk. Google those for some ideas. Brown rice sucks* and no Asians will eat it. I guess you could try fermenting it, but why bother? You can get the minerals from meat. Squash is another great veg that is low in oxalates.
The other strategy is to go mostly meat and fish. I just couldn't keep my weight up on such a diet because it kills my appetite.
BTW I haven't had a urinary issue since I started drinking fermented kombucha. I used to get UTIs often.
*much higher in phytic acid and other gut irritants
on October 17, 2011
at 03:15 AM
I am a low-oxalate dieter who has just recently started to "heavily lean" toward the Paleo diet (although I have been on a Zone inspired carb controlled diet for over 15 years for blood sugar issues.) You are right that the internet is full of conflicting information about the oxalate content of foods. The two most reliable sources for low oxalate information are the Vulvar Pain Foundation's Low Oxalate Cookbook 2 and the "Trying Low Oxalates" Yahoo group file section. If you would like more information about oxalates, the low oxalate diet and low oxalate cooking, I invite you to visit my blog at: http://lowoxalateinfo.com
You will also find links to all types of articles and information about the low oxalate diet and the numerous health problems that can be related to oxalates (kidney stones, autism, vulvodynia, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, etc.). Contrary to what one of the other commenters said, people with leaky guts and vitamin deficiencies are not the only ones who have trouble with oxalates. In fact, many people will put their whole family on a low oxalate diet because one member has to be low oxalate, only to find that other members of the family benefit too (although oxalate issues do tend to run in families . . . ). Also, many people make oxalate endogenously, especially if they have a B6 deficiency, but for other reasons also. I produce oxalates endogenously (in my body), but I have no vitamin deficiencies, no leaky gut problems, and no symptoms of kidney stones or other renal issues. In fact the doctors are stumped. The autism community has found that many of their members upon going gluten-free have begun to have numerous "oxalate" issues (rectal, genital or bladder pain; achy muscles and joints, brain fog, numbness, tingling in extremities, skin rashes, increased allergies etc.). This is because they substituted high oxalate nut flours (and other gluten-free flours) for wheat flour and went into oxidative stress from the high levels of oxalates. These were people who did not have oxalate issues before. The problem came when they went on an oxalate free-for-all and their bodies just couldn't handle it. It really can be a problem for some people, so if you begin to feel any of these types of symptoms on the Paleo diet, you may also be one of those people who cannot handle the high oxalate foods. Of course, there's no reason you can't do a low-oxalate Paleo diet. Or even a medium oxalate Paleo diet, where you only eliminate the high oxalate foods. Many of us in the low oxalate community are committed to a Paleo lifestyle or leaning heavily in that direction.
Hope this helps. Heidi
EDIT: I've changed my website to http://lowoxalateinfo.com/ It now contains more scientific articles about oxalate and how to find accurate oxalate information.
on March 18, 2011
at 07:49 PM
i fear UTI and kidney stones and things like that. but it seems hard to find out what sites have legit information about oxalates. for instance, in contrast to the one melissa listed, this other site lists squash as being high in oxalates: http://www.drkaslow.com/html/oxalates.html
on May 08, 2011
at 10:45 PM
Have you checked litholink.com? They have measured the oxalate level of different variety of foods and classified them based on oxalate content. They can answer to some of your questions as well. I hope this helps.
Here is the link:
on March 18, 2011
at 08:08 PM
I was going to say, "Oh, just cook your vegetables," but thank goodness for Google--I checked first. World's Healthiest Foods is biased in favor of a high-plants diet (which is fine if it works for you, but they think everybody should eat one), but they have a pretty interesting article about oxalate-containing foods.
Here is another link about oxlate foods from the same site.
The Body Ecology people seem to think that you CAN reduce oxalates while boiling, although they offer lower-oxalate alternatives to high-oxalate foods.
Apparently you can have your urine tested for oxalate levels, too. If I were you I'd ask my urologist about that so you can go ahead and rule it out; if you like those types of vegetables, it doesn't make sense to drop them if they are not hurting you.
If you do have high oxlate levels in your urine, you should still be able to source fruits and vegetables that are not so high in them. You can "do Paleo" without poisoning yourself--the world has an amazing variety of plant and animal foods and there is something for everyone. I cannot stress this enough: there is no "the" Paleo diet, only a set of Paleo principles. If you adhere to the principles, you can find foods that fit them that are also very good for you.
on March 18, 2011
at 08:06 PM
Don't eat brown rice. Eat white rice. It is just pure starch without all the antinutrients and phytic acid of brown rice. To make brown rice "safe" to eat you have to soak it and sprout it, it's much easier to just eat white rice.
on March 18, 2011
at 09:15 PM
For kidney stones, this country doc is down to earth. http://country-physician.blogspot.com/2010/12/prevent-and-dissolve-kidney-stones.html
And for UTIs & bladder infections, he also seems to have some answers. http://country-physician.blogspot.com/2010/12/bladder-infections-can-be-thing-of-past.html