Oxalates and Goitrogens
With the popular green smoothies becoming a trend in many households it is worth considering if they are right for you on a daily basis? It could be for your health that moderation is the key. I think in the ideal world it is great to stick to healthy choices of food and then rotate them throughout your week.
So lets learn about OXALATES. Oxalates are naturally occuring substances found in many plants, animals and humans. Our bodies always contain oxalates and our bodies convert substances into oxalates. They belong to a group of molecules called organic acids. Vitamin C is one of the substances that our body often converts to oxalates. Then there are the oxaltes we consume in our diet.
Here is a list of foods that contain oxalates and it is important to note that the leaves of the plant contain more oxalates than the root, stem or stalks.
- FRUITS blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, kiwifruit, purple grapes, figs, tangerines, plums
- VEGETABLES spinach, swiss chard, beets, beet greens, collards, okra, parsley,potato, kale, eggplant, leek, quinoa are high in oxalates. Celery, green beans, rutabagas, summer squash are moderately high in oxalates
- NUTS and SEEDS almonds, sesame seeds cashews, and peanuts
- LEGUMES soyabeans, tofu, soya products
- GRAINS wheat bran, wheat germ,amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa ( a vegetable used as a grain)
- OTHER cocoa, chocolate, soya sauce, black tea
As you can quite imagine these foods listed above are fantasticly healthy foods. There are some people however that are best to be aware of these foods and substances. It comes back to everything in moderation and rotating your foods. There is little research on the effects of lowering oxalates with heating or cooking and if heating does reduce oxalate it seems to be mild and in the cooking process you need to take into account the loss of vital nutrients in the food by heating. So rotation and moderation are the really the answer.
Be aware of Oxalate excess if you consume a lot of these foods. Perhaps you are not eliminating them as well as you would think. Consider lowering your oxalate consumption if:
1. The gut is not regulating absorption of oxalates. Excess oxalates can be absorbed into the blood and urine and tissues more readily. This can also be the case if the microbiome of the gut is comprimised or fungal conditions are present.This could be aggravated with parasites, antibiotic therapy, chronic diarrheoa or constipation.
2. Kidney stones
3. Vulvodynia - external female genital pain and sensitivity
6. Inflammed joints
Moderation and rotation of foods is the key. Many of the foods listed above are very very healthy foods so the answer may be initially to dramatically reduce these foods but the main thing is to treat the digestive tract and consume moderate and rotate foods around. Speak to you practitioner if you have concerns. It is important you are not taking the wrong type of minerals/ supplements if you have the above conditions. For instance the better calcium to take is Calcium Citrate. Activated Vitamin B6 has also been found to be helpful. Other helpful tips are Increasing pure water, reducing fat consumption, increasing probiotics and gut repair is important, Chondroitin sulphate can prevent formation of calcium oxalate cystals. Do not take excess of Vitamin C in these cases either.
As an aside to Oxalates i am going to talk about the thyroid. As Oxalates are often confused with information on goitrogens. It is rumoured that the hypothyroid conditions can be aggravated by oxalte containing foods. This may be so but research is not consistant with this. Goitrogens are naturally occurring substances ingested in foods and medication. If your thyoid is normal these are not a problem but for some people the thyroid may grow more cells as it tries to compensate for in adequate hormone production. Gluten, soy and cruciferous vegetables fit into this category. I mention this because if your thyroid is comprimised cooking the cruciferous vegetables does alter the isothiocyanate molecule structure and lowers the goitrogenic effect. So heat does not reduce oxalates much but it can help in cases of hypothyroidism by reducing the goitregenic effect. It is important to know the difference.
If you have a healthy bowel absorption and rotate your foods then there is no reason why you should not consume oxalate foods and enjoy them.
written by Maedy Colenso ND 2015