• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Is a Plant Based Diet Killing Your Health?

Is a Plant Based Diet Killing Your Health?

Hey there, Kuhlebody health-conscious readers! Today, we’re going to explore a topic that might have you rethinking your plant-based plate – oxalates. While plant-based diets are often praised for their health benefits, it’s essential to understand that not all components of a plant-based diet are entirely benign.


What Are Oxalates?

Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in various plant foods. They play a crucial role in plant defense mechanisms, helping plants ward off pests. Unfortunately, some individuals may be more sensitive to oxalates than others leading to health issues.


The Inflammation Connection

One of the primary concerns associated with oxalates is their potential to trigger inflammation in the body. Here’s how it works:


What Are Oxalates?

Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in various plant foods. They play a crucial role in plant defense mechanisms, helping plants ward off pests. Unfortunately, some individuals may be more sensitive to oxalates than others, leading to health issues like arthritis, joint pain, brain fog, kidney stones and neurodegenerative issues.  

The average diet contains 250 mg of oxalates per day, and if you are eating more than that, this can lead to oxalate symptoms, because you are eating more than you can break down.

What Are Examples of High Oxalate Foods?

The foods with the highest oxalate content per serving (around 50 mg/serving or higher) include:

  • Dark leafy greens: spinach, kale, chard
  • Root vegetables: white/sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, rutabaga
  • Other vegetables: carrots, celery, green peppers, Brussel sprouts
  • Fruit: oranges, avocados, kiwi, tomatoes, raspberries
  • Dried fruit: figs, dates
  • Nuts/seeds: almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin, tahini
  • Grains: brown rice, buckwheat, wheat
  • Beverages: carrot juice, tomato juice, rice milk
  • Soy products
  • Legumes: navy beans, fava beans, lentils, refried beans, red kidney beans
  • Other: cocoa powder, stevia

The Inflammation Connection

One of the primary concerns associated with oxalates is their potential to trigger inflammation in the body. Here’s how it works:

Oxalates and Kidney Stones: Oxalates can bind with calcium in your body to form crystals, which can contribute to the development of kidney stones. This process can be painful and lead to inflammation in the urinary tract.

Oxalates and Low Thyroid-Hypothyroidism

  • Oxalates can interfere with the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium. When this happens, it affects the thyroid gland, which relies on these minerals to function properly.
  • Low thyroid function, also known as hypothyroidism, can result from mineral deficiencies caused by high oxalate consumption. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, and when it’s not working optimally, it can lead to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and cold sensitivity.
  • So, if you suspect thyroid issues and consume a lot of high-oxalate foods, it’s a good idea to be mindful of your diet. Reducing oxalate-rich foods and ensuring you get enough minerals can help support thyroid health. If you’re not sure how to approach a low oxalate diet, educate yourself with books like “Toxic Super Foods” by Sally K. Norton or schedule a consultation with a nutritionist. 

Digestive Discomfort

 For some people, oxalates may irritate the digestive system, leading to discomfort and inflammation in the gut. This is particularly relevant if you consume foods high in oxalates regularly. A high oxalate diet can contribute to leaky gut, a condition that afflicts millions of people in the United States and frequently goes undiagnosed. 

Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal permeability, occurs when the lining of the small intestine becomes more porous, allowing substances like toxins, undigested food particles, and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. This can trigger inflammation and various health issues.

A high oxalate diet can play a role in this process in the following ways:

Oxalate Crystals: Oxalates, when consumed in excess, can form crystals in the digestive tract. These crystals may irritate and damage the intestinal lining, potentially leading to increased permeability.

Inflammation: Oxalates, especially when not properly metabolized or excreted, can trigger inflammation in the gut. Chronic inflammation can weaken the intestinal barrier over time, contributing to leaky gut.

Gut Microbiome: High-oxalate foods can also impact the composition of the gut microbiome. An imbalance in gut bacteria can lead to intestinal permeability.

It’s essential to note that not everyone will experience leaky gut from a high oxalate diet. People have different levels of sensitivity to oxalates, and some may be more prone to these effects than others.

If you suspect that a high oxalate diet might be contributing to gut issues or you’re experiencing symptoms of leaky gut, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional with expertise in nutrition; functional medical practitioners have more education in nutrition than traditional allopathic doctors. They can provide guidance on dietary changes and potential treatments to support gut health.

Remember, a balanced diet, stress management, and other lifestyle factors also play significant roles in maintaining a healthy gut.

Joint Pain: In sensitive individuals, oxalates may contribute to joint pain and inflammation. This is because oxalates can accumulate in joint tissues, potentially causing discomfort. 

Many menopausal and postmenopausal women experience joint pain from the decrease in estrogen and may benefit from a low or no oxalate diet to help improve their thyroid function and decrease joint inflammation. 

Inflammatory Conditions: There’s ongoing research into the link between oxalates and conditions like fibromyalgia and vulvodynia (vulvodynia is a type of long-term pain or discomfort around the outer part of the female genitals, called the vulva. It has no clear cause and can make you uncomfortable with sitting, having sex or other activities.), which involve chronic pain and inflammation.


Managing Oxalates… If You Do Eat A Plant-Based Diet

Now, before you start worrying about every spinach salad or almond snack, it’s essential to remember that oxalate sensitivity varies from person to person. I know I’ve stated that multiple times, but it’s important to reinforce this. We all have our own unique chemistry. 

If you are experiencing inflammation of any kind, adjusting your diet is a great place to start where you can observe and journal your experience.  Over a period of several weeks, write down any notable changes that are either positive or negative. Be aware that when decreasing oxalate containing foods there is a possibility you may have a detox reaction where you may feel a little worse before you feel better due to oxalates leaving the body. Here are some tips to help you manage oxalates in your diet:

  • Moderation is Key: Enjoy oxalate-rich foods in moderation. This includes spinach, almonds, rhubarb, and beets. NOTE: On the occasion you do choose to eat a high oxalate food write down in your journal if you experience a flare up of any kind of inflammation. Balancing your diet with other nutrient-rich foods can help mitigate potential issues.
  • Cooking and Soaking: Cooking or soaking high-oxalate foods can reduce their oxalate content. Boiling spinach, for example, can significantly lower its oxalate levels and soaking beans for 3 days (change the water each time) and pressure cooking them. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent the formation of kidney stones and dilute the concentration of oxalates in your urine.


Understanding Oxalate Dumping and How to Minimize Detox Effects

What exactly is it, and how can you minimize the detox effects? Let’s break it down:

What Is Oxalate Dumping?

Oxalate dumping refers to a phenomenon where the body releases stored oxalates into the bloodstream during dietary changes or detoxification processes. Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in certain foods, and some people may accumulate them in their tissues over time that can lead to joint inflammation or other inflammatory conditions (i.e. Kidney stones).

Why Does Oxalate Dumping Occur?

When you make significant dietary changes, especially reducing or eliminating high-oxalate foods from your diet, your body might start to release these stored oxalates. This release can lead to a temporary increase in oxalate levels in your bloodstream.

Minimizing the Detox Effects:

  • Gradual Dietary Changes: If you suspect you have a high oxalate burden and want to reduce it, consider making dietary changes gradually. Sudden, drastic changes can trigger more intense oxalate dumping.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is crucial during detox processes. It helps flush out oxalates and other toxins from your system, potentially reducing discomfort.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Be aware of potential symptoms of oxalate dumping, which can include urinary urgency, pain, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues. Keeping a journal can help you track changes and identify patterns.
  • Support Your Body: Consider supporting your liver and kidneys with foods and supplements that aid detoxification. This may include herbal teas, and high-quality probiotics.
  • Consult a Professional: If you suspect oxalate dumping is causing significant discomfort, consult a healthcare provider or nutritionist. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.


In Conclusion

Oxalate dumping can be a challenging experience for some individuals, especially when making dietary changes to reduce oxalate intake. However, it’s important to remember that this is a temporary phase, and your body is working to rid itself of accumulated oxalates. By taking a gradual approach and supporting your body through the process, you can minimize the detox effects and work towards better overall health.

While oxalates in a plant-based diet can be a concern for some individuals, it’s important to remember that many people can enjoy these foods without any issues. As with any dietary choice, it’s all about balance and understanding your body’s unique needs. If you’re experiencing inflammation or discomfort, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance to find the best approach for you.

So, there you have it, a closer look at the potential connection between oxalates and inflammation in the body. Remember, knowledge is power, and making informed dietary choices is key to maintaining holistic health.

Stay tuned for more insights into the world of holistic health and wellness. Until next time, take care of yourselves so you can look, feel and be kuhle!


“Update On Oxalate Crystal Disease” – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710657/ 

“Dietary Oxalate and Kidney Stone Formation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459305/

“Dietary Oxalate Loading Impacts Monocyte Metabolism and Inflammatory Signaling in Humans” – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.617508/full



brain fog, calcium, chronic inflammation, detox, detoxification, fibromyalgia, health, hydration, inflammation, joint pain, kidney stones, kidneys, liver, magnesium, microbiome, neurodegenerative, nutritionist, oxalate dumping, oxalates, plant based diet, symptoms, thyroid, vulvodynia

You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}