A growing number of people are reducing the amount of oxalate in their diets for a variety of health-supportive reasons. It’s estimated that at least 1 out of 10 people have been told to take measures to maintain a healthy kidney and urinary tract program. In fact, you may be one of those folks who have been recommended by a health care practitioner to comply with a low-oxalate diet as part of your program. However, for many people, the benefits of oxalate reduction can be offset by the difficulties of achieving this dietary goal.
Until recently, the diet required eliminating many oxalate-packed foods – from spinach to French fries – that most consumers frequently include as part of enjoyable meals.
In this article, we will examine the health-supportive benefits of a low-oxalate diet as well as some options for following this diet every day. Ultimately, through education on oxalate reduction, we hope to empower consumers to lead healthier lives by making it easier to succeed with a low-oxalate diet regimen.
What Exactly is Oxalate?
Oxalate serves growth and regulatory functions in plants. However, it serves little nutritional purpose for our bodies and becomes a waste product when we eat it. Oxalate is sometimes called an “anti-nutrient” because it inhibits the body’s absorption of certain nutrients such as calcium. It does this by binding to calcium – which leads to the formation of microcrystals – ultimately carrying it out of the body through the urinary tract.
Primary Goals of a Low-Oxalate Diet
The average person eats roughly 200 to 300 mg of oxalate every day – up to five times the ideal amount for those who are advised to follow a low-oxalate diet. To maintain a healthy calcium-oxalate ratio in the body, a reasonable goal is to consume less than 100 mg of oxalate daily; less than 50 mg daily is the ideal amount. As a point of reference, a typical miso soup carries roughly 100 mg per serving, making it an oxalate-packed food to avoid on this diet.
Some benefits of eating a low oxalate diet include:
- Increasing absorption of calcium and other nutrients from the foods you eat
- Helping maintain urinary tract and kidney health
- Expanding your awareness of overall nutrition and healthy choices
Following the diet requires an appreciation of your food’s chemical makeup and how it interacts with the body. By learning about oxalate and how to manage its intake every day, those following a low-oxalate diet can become skilled at making informed, healthy decisions. This practice of nutritional self-empowerment is not only important for healthy bodies, but also for a stronger, more aware community of consumers.
WAYS TO REDUCE Oxalate
Eliminate Or Reduce Oxalate-Packed Foods
One of the traditional methods of oxalate reduction is to avoid eating foods with the greatest amounts of oxalate in them. However, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. On a practical level, cutting oxalate means researching the oxalate content of the individual foods eaten; it’s not as simple as avoiding a whole food group, like dieters who cut out carbs to lose weight can do. Plus, the diet can involve giving up some favorite foods (think French fries or chocolate) or foods that are loaded with other important nutrients (think leafy greens), which can make it even more difficult to comply.
Cook Out Oxalate
Another traditional method for oxalate-reduction is to boil, steam, or soak ingredients to decrease their oxalate content. Research indicates that boiling, in particular, can help reduce the amount of oxalate in certain vegetables, as can steaming, to a lower amount. Just make sure to drain out the water.
Kicking Off A Low-Oxalate Diet
As with any change in diet, please talk with your health care provider about your individual nutritional situation and needs. Your health care provider can best advise you regarding the health benefits you may obtain from following a low-oxalate diet.