Too many oxalates in the diet can lead to health problems, including kidney stones. Following a diet that is low in oxalates may help reduce the risk of kidney stones, and it may be possible to neutralize some of the oxalates before they are absorbed by the digestive tract. Other changes to the diet may also help prevent the development of kidney stones.
Oxalates and Health
Oxalate and its related compound, oxallic acid, can be found in many foods. High oxalate intake may increase your risk of getting kidney stones, as the oxalate in the blood can combine with calcium to form calcium oxalate. As your kidneys filter the blood, calcium oxalate levels can become high enough that small crystals form, leading to kidney stones. High oxalate levels may also be linked with autism, the Great Plains Laboratory notes.
One way to limit the amount of oxalates in the body is to follow a low-oxalate diet. This entails avoiding foods such as nuts, chocolate, buckwheat, bran cereals and whole-wheat products, beans, green vegetables, many kinds of berries and citrus peels. Instead, focus on low-oxalate foods, including dairy, bananas, melons, cherries, lean meats, corn-based cereals, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms and citrus juices.
Calcium and Oxalate
Although a high level of calcium in the blood is associated with the development of kidney stones, calcium in the diet may be able to protect against kidney stones. Dietary calcium, such as that found in dairy, can bind to the oxalate in the digestive tract and keep the oxalate from being absorbed. Three to four servings of dairy each day may help neutralize oxalate from the diet. Calcium supplements, particularly calcium citrate, can also help, but avoid doses higher than 2,000 milligrams daily unless it is recommended by your doctor.
Drinking water can help dilute oxalate in the blood and make it easier for you to flush it out of your body, reducing your risk of kidney stones. Drink at least 8 to 12 cups of fluid each day. Citric acid from lemons and other citrus fruits can also help prevent the formation of calcium oxalate fluids. If you are concerned about the amount of oxalate in your diet or are thinking of making significant dietary changes, talk to your doctor first.
Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.