4

votes

What is the truth about oxalate-rich food?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 30, 2013 at 9:43 AM

There seems to be hundreds of questions concerning oxalate-rich food (such as spinach, but also sweet potatoes), but I didn't find a satisfactory answer somewhere regarding if you should avoid eating spinach or such on a daily basis.


We already know the following, so no need to comment and this:

  1. Yes, people who are sensitive to oxalate should avoid it.
  2. Nothing should be eaten every day.
  3. Nothing should be eaten in too high quantities.

Let us focus on:

  1. Is the oxalate only binding and prohibiting the minerals from that veggie to get digested or is it interfering with other foods to get digested readily?
  2. Do we get a net increase in body minerals after consuming oxalate-rich food?
  3. Does our gut bacteria has something to do with how good/bad oxalate is for us as some people claim?

My totally unscientific, but experienced-based and logical conclusion is that spinach will add minerals and give you a healthier body. The oxalate will only make some amount of minerals in the spinach to go wasted and will probably have a very low impact on other foods digested in the body.

But I love to hear what you have to say!

Ace526caa4e31dff012790a879652957

on May 02, 2013
at 01:47 PM

Since it takes two atoms of calcium to satisfy the bonds on every molecule of oxalate, you can see where this would easily "use up" the calcium provided by the spinach, and start binding to calcium in the other foods you've eaten. If you've planned well, you've eaten enough calcium in the meal to offset this. If you're not, the remainder is left either to be broken down by your gut bacteria (if you're lucky enough to have them), or to be absorbed by your digestive tract.

Ace526caa4e31dff012790a879652957

on May 02, 2013
at 01:44 PM

Yes, as I mentioned above, those whose guts are colonized with the correct species of bacteria are able to break down at least SOME oxalate. The problem comes with foods that have such a high percentage of oxalate that it just overwhelms the whole system - gut bacteria, mineral absorption, everything. Spinach is one such. For a good (albeit dated) scientific article that can help you understand, try this: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/18/3/233.full.pdf As shown in that article, spinach leaves are 0.89% oxalic acid by dry weight, but only 0.11% calcium by dry weight. (continued)

Medium avatar

(115)

on May 01, 2013
at 04:24 PM

I would like to see the scientific source of you claim that spinach results in net loss of minerals. I would say that is a false statement. According to April S post: http://paleohacks.com/questions/109174/oxalates-in-leafy-greens-should-we-worry/109187#109187 From scientific studies it is shown that oxalate can be broken down by (healthy?) people.

4886d3390cb1de913ecc198e72cc072c

on May 01, 2013
at 04:52 AM

Check out this website for more info on oxalates: http://lowoxalate.info/

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on May 01, 2013
at 12:14 AM

Good question. I eat a lot of sweet potato because it seems like the only carb I could handle, and the oxalate issue has always been in the back of my mind.

3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on April 30, 2013
at 04:32 PM

Spinach is the only leafy green that gives me diarrhea, consistently. Baby spinach is even worse I find than "adult" spinach.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 30, 2013
at 12:38 PM

Good question, and I am especially interested in #3. Of all the things I struggle to eat, oxalates are NOT one of them. As a matter of fact, they are one of the foods that really give me long-lasting energy, as opposed to carb-spiked energy.

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3 Answers

2
Ace526caa4e31dff012790a879652957

on April 30, 2013
at 07:27 PM

I would say that, on average, spinach in particular would result in a net loss of minerals, because it is SO high in oxalate. Most (though not all) other oxalate-containing foods are nowhere near this high. As for your other questions, I'll tackle them in order:

  1. This will depend on the amount of oxalate ingested. As mentioned above spinach (along with other extremely high-oxalate foods like almonds, rhubarb and plantains) will interfere with the absorption of any other minerals available in the gut at the time, whether from other foods, supplements or whatever source. Not that I'm good with chemistry, but it's a molar ratio. The amount of minerals bound is in direct relation to the amount of oxalate present.

  2. See above. It will depend on the ratio of oxalate to minerals consumed.

  3. Yes, yes, yes! Almost everyone with known oxalate issues, also has some other gut-related issue (even if they are systemic issues, like fibromyalgia, which science is just now beginning to connect to gut dysbiosis). If you have a healthy level of oxalobacter formigenes, along with other oxalate-degrading bacteria in your gut, you will have far fewer issues with oxalates than if you do not. Perhaps even no notable issues at all.

That said, oxalate is a toxin and a metabolic waste product, so it isn't really ever "good for you." It's only "less bad" for someone depending on how well their gut microbiota can handle it, how healthy their intestinal walls are, etc.

4886d3390cb1de913ecc198e72cc072c

on May 01, 2013
at 04:52 AM

Check out this website for more info on oxalates: http://lowoxalate.info/

Medium avatar

(115)

on May 01, 2013
at 04:24 PM

I would like to see the scientific source of you claim that spinach results in net loss of minerals. I would say that is a false statement. According to April S post: http://paleohacks.com/questions/109174/oxalates-in-leafy-greens-should-we-worry/109187#109187 From scientific studies it is shown that oxalate can be broken down by (healthy?) people.

Ace526caa4e31dff012790a879652957

on May 02, 2013
at 01:44 PM

Yes, as I mentioned above, those whose guts are colonized with the correct species of bacteria are able to break down at least SOME oxalate. The problem comes with foods that have such a high percentage of oxalate that it just overwhelms the whole system - gut bacteria, mineral absorption, everything. Spinach is one such. For a good (albeit dated) scientific article that can help you understand, try this: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/18/3/233.full.pdf As shown in that article, spinach leaves are 0.89% oxalic acid by dry weight, but only 0.11% calcium by dry weight. (continued)

Ace526caa4e31dff012790a879652957

on May 02, 2013
at 01:47 PM

Since it takes two atoms of calcium to satisfy the bonds on every molecule of oxalate, you can see where this would easily "use up" the calcium provided by the spinach, and start binding to calcium in the other foods you've eaten. If you've planned well, you've eaten enough calcium in the meal to offset this. If you're not, the remainder is left either to be broken down by your gut bacteria (if you're lucky enough to have them), or to be absorbed by your digestive tract.

0
0ab6a538ab9f52aac2917b0745d68036

on May 15, 2013
at 10:16 AM

Hi!

I have been looking into Oxalates as I have Stiff Person Syndrome and I have been on a low Oxalate diet for over a year and it does keep my chronic pain under control without painkillers.

It's boring, some people say expensive personally I don't feel it's that expensive to maintain but I want to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can so I will keep up with the low oxalate diet.

stiffpersonsydromestaypositive.wordpress.com

Bampton

0
0ab6a538ab9f52aac2917b0745d68036

on May 15, 2013
at 10:14 AM

Hi!

I have been looking into Oxalates as I have Stiff Person Syndrome and I have been on a low Oxalate diet for over a year and it does keep my chronic pain under control without painkillers.

It's boring, some people say expensive personally I don't feel it's that expensive to maintain but I want to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can so I will keep up with the low oxalate diet.

stiffpersonsydromestaypositive.wordpress.com

Bampton

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