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What Are Oxalates?

What is oxalate?
Oxalate is a naturally occurring molecule found in abundance in plants and humans. It’s not a required nutrient for people, and too much can lead to kidney stones.

In plants, oxalate helps to get rid of extra calcium by binding with it. That is why so many high-oxalate foods are from plants. In humans, it may work as a “prebiotic,” feeding good bacteria in the gut.

How does the body process it?
When we eat foods with oxalate, it travels through the digestive tract and passes out in the stool or urine. As it passes through the intestines, oxalate can bind with calcium and be excreted in the stool. However, when too much oxalate continues through to the kidneys, it can lead to kidney stones.

Calcium oxalate kidney stones are the most common type of kidney stone in the North America. The higher your levels of oxalate, the greater your risk of developing these kinds of kidney stones.

What is a low-oxalate diet?
If you are at high risk for kidney stones, lowering the amount of oxalate that you eat may help reduce this risk.

However, new research indicates that boosting your intake of calcium-rich foods when you eat foods that are high in oxalate may be a better approach than simply eliminating it from the diet. As they digest, oxalate and calcium are more likely to bind together before they get to the kidneys, making it less likely that kidney stones will form.

What causes oxalate buildup?
Foods that are high in vitamin C can increase the body’s oxalate levels. Vitamin C converts to oxalate, and levels over 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day have been shown to increase oxalate levels.

Taking antibiotics, or having a history of digestive disease, can also increase the body’s oxalate levels. The good bacteria in the gut help get rid of oxalate, and when the levels of these bacteria are low, higher amounts of oxalate can be absorbed in the body.

What can reduce oxalate?
Drinking enough fluid each day can help clear kidney stones or even keep them from forming. Spreading liquids throughout the day is ideal. Choosing water over other drinks is preferable.

Getting enough calcium is also helpful. Getting too little calcium can increase the amount of oxalate that gets to the kidneys, which will increase the risk of kidney stones.

Lowering your salt intake can also lower your risk of kidney stones. High-salt diets tend to cause more calcium to be lost in the urine. The more calcium and oxalate in the kidneys, the greater the risk of kidney stones.

How is oxalate measured?
Lists that provide the oxalate content in foods can be confusing. The oxalate levels reported in foods can vary depending on the following factors:

  • when the foods are harvested
  • where they are grown
  • how their oxalate levels were tested

 

oxalates





High-oxalate foods
Foods that are highest in oxalate include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • legumes
  • grains

High-oxalate fruits include:

  • berries
  • kiwis
  • figs
  • purple grapes

Vegetables that contain high levels of oxalate include:

  • rhubarb
  • okra
  • leeks
  • spinach
  • beets
  • Swiss chard

To reduce how much oxalate you get, minimize consumption of:

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • peanuts
  • soy products

Some grain products are also high in oxalate, including:

  • bran flakes
  • wheat germ
  • quinoa

The following foods are also high in oxalates:

  • cocoa
  • chocolate
  • tea

High-calcium foods
Increasing your calcium intake when eating foods with oxalate can help lower oxalate levels in the urine. Choose high-calcium dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vegetables can also provide a good amount of calcium. Choose among the following foods to increase your calcium levels:

  • broccoli
  • watercress
  • kale
  • okra

High-calcium legumes that have a fair amount of calcium include:

  • kidney beans
  • chickpeas
  • baked beans
  • navy beans

Fish high in calcium include:

  • sardines with bones
  • whitebait
  • salmon

How to avoid kidney stones
To lower your risk of kidney stones, add a high-calcium food to a meal that contains a food with higher levels of oxalate.

For example, if you add wheat germ to your oatmeal, be sure to add some milk as well. If you are cooking spinach, don’t feel guilty about combining it with pizza or lasagna. If you have a craving for a berry smoothie, add some regular or Greek yogurt to help provide balance.

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Gut Bacteria May Hold Clues to Chronic Fatigue

Intestinal colonies differ in CFS patients, study finds, bolstering notion the disorder isn’t a psychological problem

Chronic fatigue syndrome – a condition that continues to baffle doctors – may be influenced by a person’s intestinal bacteria – sometimes called gut microbiome, new research finds.

“Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have a different profile of bacterial species in their gut microbiome than healthy individuals,” said the study’s senior author, Maureen Hanson. She’s a professor of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

In the small study, she and her colleagues found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome had less diversity or different types of bacteria, compared to healthy people without chronic fatigue syndrome. People with chronic fatigue syndrome also had more species of bacteria that promote inflammation and fewer bacteria that dampen inflammation, the researchers found.

The new findings provide evidence to refute what Hanson calls “the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin.” For years, she said, some have suggested that chronic fatigue syndrome is simply psychological and can be helped by therapy. Not so, she said.

Even so, “I would not say we found the cause,” Hanson said. Rather, her team has found “another biological abnormality.”

Not everyone with chronic fatigue syndrome has the skewed microbiome, she said. Some of the study volunteers had fairly normal microbiomes.

Between 1 million and 4 million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But only about 20 percent of people with the condition have been diagnosed. Symptoms may include overwhelming fatigue not helped by rest, sleep that is not restorative, malaise, joint and muscle pain, headaches and gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

In the study, the Cornell researchers evaluated 48 people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and 39 healthy controls. All provided stool and blood samples. The researchers tested stool samples for bacterial DNA. In chronic fatigue syndrome patients they found bacterial profiles with less diversity. This is similar to those seen in people with two bowel diseases: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the researchers said.

love-your-gut

“A lot of bacteria in our gut are beneficial,” Hanson said.

If patients with chronic fatigue syndrome don’t have as diverse a population of bacteria, she said, that could cause problems. The researchers also found markers of inflammation in the blood samples of chronic fatigue syndrome patients, likely due to a “leaky gut” from intestinal problems that let bacteria enter the blood. Bacteria in the blood could trigger an immune response and worsen symptoms, the researchers said.

Using the microbiome findings, the researchers said they were able to correctly classify whether 83 percent of the study volunteers had chronic fatigue syndrome or didn’t. If these findings are confirmed in a larger study, the authors suggested that the gut microbiome could be used as an additional test to determine if it’s likely that someone has chronic fatigue syndrome.

The new research “is yet another study that proves this is not a psychological disease,” said Zaher Nahle, vice president for research and scientific programs at the Solve ME/CFS Initiative, a nonprofit organization focusing on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.

More and more research on various health conditions has focused on what experts call the gut-brain axis, Nahle said. Other research has suggested the gut microbiome might be linked with anxiety, depression, autism and other conditions. “It’s a promising avenue of research,” he said.

If the research progresses and bears out for chronic fatigue syndrome, Nahle said, adjusting the diet might be one way to help symptoms.

Remedies such as probiotics are often suggested to patients, Hanson said. Probiotics are foods or supplements with live “good” bacteria that may alter and improve the gut environment. But it’s too soon to know if it would have an effect.

“Really, we don’t know whether probiotics will help or not,” Hanson said. There is not enough research currently, and more research on probiotics would be helpful, she said.

The study was published recently in the journal Microbiome.

WebMD News from HealthDay     By Kathleen Doheny     HealthDay Reporter     Friday, July 15, 2016    HealthDay News

SOURCES: Maureen R. Hanson, Ph.D., Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of molecular biology and genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.;  Zaher Nahle, Ph.D., M.P.A., vice president, research and scientific programs, Solve ME/CFS Initiative; June 23, 2016, Microbiome
 
Source: HealthDay  WebMD