The Big Oxalate Problem

Grains, breads, and cereals are among the foods with extremely high oxalate content.

Oxalates. I know what you’re thinking. Another dietary boogeyman to be scared of? As if sugar, gluten, high fructose corn syrup, and carbohydrates weren’t enough to keep you awake at night.

What exactly is an oxalate? An oxalate is a dianion, which is an atom or a group of atoms that has acquired a net electric charge by gaining or losing one or more electrons. Slight changes to the chemical compound can result in sodium oxalate (Na2C2O)4), or dimethyl oxalate (CH3)2C2O4), for example. The term “oxalate” is often used as a blanket term for referencing these derivative compounds.

Calcium oxalates are a major constituent of human kidney stones. They are also commonly occurring in over 200 species of plants. They are known in plants as raphides. Pictured below are calcium oxalate crystals, and the raphides found in the Epipremnum family of plants in Asia.

Does this look like something that is healthy to consume?
600x magnification for your viewing pleasure.

With 80% of kidney stones being partially or entirely of the calcium oxalate type, consider avoiding rhubarb, sorrel, spinach, tea leaves, kiwi, cinnamon, and tumeric. For those of you who drink black tea with milk, be wary:

Fun fact: when people try to kill themselves by drinking antifreeze, they get what is called Ethylene glycol poisoning. This is diagnosed by measuring the amount of calcium oxalates in the urine of the patient.

Oxalate crystals found in plants are antinutrients that are commonly linked to many different chronic and functional disorders. Oxalates cause both nutrient deficiencies and toxicity. Even scarier, oxalates are bioaccumulated in humans without us knowing. The gradual accumulation of oxalates leads to a whole host of issues. A study of 182 normal thyroids found that eighty-five percent of people over age 50 have calcium oxalate crystals in their thyroid gland. Oxalate has also been noted to cause weakened bones, weakened connective tissue, and fibrosis.

Other issues that occur with Oxalate consumption are affecting us without even accumulating in our bodies beforehand. Electrolyte imbalances, central nervous system dysfunction, and damage to the structure of our nerves are noted to be caused by oxalate intake.

Good heavens! So much scientific research has been done to show us that we are poisoning ourselves with common, Standard American Diet foods!

But wait! There’s more!

We haven’t even scratched the surface of all the metabolic maladies that these oxalates have been shown to cause. Inflammation, chronic pain, arthritis, autoimmune disease, neurotoxicity, decrease in sleep and brain function. All of these conditions are leading people to eat what are so-called “healthy foods”, all of which are actually causing these problems in the first place!

So what do you need to avoid when going for a low-oxalate diet? Let’s find out from our friends over at the American Dietetic Association (they were kind enough to make this chart):

After reading this chart, you’ll realize that most “superfoods” that have been marketed to death are actually ridiculously high in oxalate content. Nuts, spinach, blackberries, all being constantly promoted as being very healthy. Just look at the rise in almond milk’s popularity!

This is just more evidence that a child’s natural aversion to eating green vegetables is a built-in evolutionary response to the dangers of them. Stay away! Even if this information can’t convince you to cut them out entirely, go with the greens with low oxalate content, such as cabbage, lettuce, and bok choy.


Now that it is known by the scientific community that cancer is caused by mitochondria dysfunction, allow us to peer into the effects that oxaltes have on the POWERHOUSE OF THE CELL!

A fun study published in 2018 showed that oxalate induces mitochondrial dysfunction! Sally K. Norton’s excellent work in the Journal of Evolution and Health is also ripe with information to terrify you, as it summarizes that chronic exposure of ionic oxalate alters breast cells, transforming normal breast cells to tumor cells. Here’s the original study entitled “Oxalate induces breast cancer”: .

Is it crazy to think that oxalate crystals get stuck in our mitochondria and wreck havoc? I think not!

The good news that any keto super-fan knows is that ketosis plays a role in protecting from mitochondrial dysfunction. The protein SIRT3, upregulated by ketosis, is very important in stress resistance and metabolic regulation!

SIRT3 has also been found to inhibit formation of calcium oxalate-induced kidney stones! Coincidence? I think not! More evidence that the human body is most healthy on a fat-burning diet!




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