Our Most Frequently Asked Questions
All components that make up the parts of a plant contain oxalates (oxalic acid). Each plant brings it own health benefits to your plate as well as oxalate content. Most people consume the bulk of their dietary oxalate from the following:
Leaves or leafy greens: Salads, pesto, stir fry or smoothies with lettuce, kale, spinach, basil, beet greens etc. as the primary ingredient.
Root plants: This includes foods from your popular tubers and bulbs such as French fries and baked potatoes, potato chips, carrot sticks, onion rings, candied yams, water chestnuts & bamboo shoots in your stir fry, and roasted Jerusalem artichokes to name a few.
Stems/stalks: Yes, that celery stick you are munching on, and those asparagus spears on eggs benedict (my fave!) and rhubarb are all plant stalks.
Flowers: In addition to the familiar rose or marigold that looks pretty in spring, this category also includes a wide variety of vegetables (squash, pumpkin, tomatoes and eggplants) and popular fruits such as berries, apples, oranges, plums and bananas to name a few. They are consumed fresh, cooked, or within condiments, sauces, marinades, yogurt etc.
Nuts & Seeds: Mostly associated with raw nuts from trees (almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia etc.) they are more commonly consumed in nut butters & oils, spreads, granola, energy bars, breads, flours and soups to name a few.
As you can see from the above, oxalates are pretty much found in all plant-based foods.
There are 4 different types of kidney stones:
вЂў Calcium stones You can have either Calcium oxalate stones or Calcium phosphate stones.
вЂў Uric acid (formed from monosodium urate crystals) These are the second most common stone found, possibly caused by a high protein diet where intake of “purines” (instead of oxalates) may need to be restricted.
вЂўStuvite (formed from magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate) Found mostly in women and associated with urinary track infection (UTI).
вЂў Cystine This type of stone accounts for less than 1% of kidney stones found making them extremely rare. These stones are generally found in individuals with a hereditary condition known as “cystinuriaвЂќ.
Do not assume you have calcium oxalate kidney stones. Have your stone analyzed to identify the specific type. Each stone type has a different chemical composition which in turn will help your physician focus on the cause and the appropriate dietary approach to reduce the risk of recurrence. In other words, a low oxalate diet may not benefit someone with uric acid stones. Check with your healthcare professional.
Some people are more susceptible to developing kidney stones. Many go through life not experiencing the passing of a stone, while others live with it on a continuous basis. There is not one single cause responsible, but a combination of factors that increase your risk.
вЂў Family history/hereditary: ItвЂ™s in your genes and passed down to you from earlier generations. Nothing you can do about that. If you ask, youвЂ™ll learn you arenвЂ™t the first in your family to have kidney stones.
вЂў Dehydration: Simply put, you donвЂ™t drink enough water to dilute minerals in your urine. Your fluid intake is too low. You can judge your hydration level by the color of your urine. Dark/deep yellow is a sign that you donвЂ™t drink enough water and your urine is concentrated. Light/pale yellow or clear are a healthy sign of hydration making it harder for stones to form.
вЂў Diet: Yes, food choices and diets are a contributing factor. A diet rich in high oxalate foods, animal proteins, sugary drinks and salty foods increases the amount of calcium in your kidneys which in turn increases your risk for kidney stones.
вЂў Obesity: Your kidneys do not increase in size to support your extra weight. When you are overweight, your kidneys are forced to work harder to support the extra body mass. That extra body mass or high body mass index (BMI) makes your kidneys less effective which increases your risk for stones to form as well as diabetes and heart disease.
вЂў Medical conditions: You are one of those individuals with a disease or condition (i.e. Diabetes, Dent or CrohnвЂ™s disease, surgery. ) where your body is sensitive to oxalates that unfortunately makes you susceptible to kidney stones.
вЂў Geography: Where you live may also increase the risk of developing kidney stones. According to a population survey by the National Institute of Health, if you reside in the Southeastern part of the United States (known as the вЂќStone BeltвЂќ by urologists) you are 50% more likely to form kidney stones than the rest of the country. Continuous exposure to the heat and sunвЂ™s rays make you more susceptible to water loss (sweat) and dehydration. The typical Southern American diet and its comfort foods is also a major contributor. Southern foods are rich in fried foods and added fats (fried chicken, fried catfish, fried okra, hushpuppies, biscuits & gravy, pork green beans etc), sugary drinks (sweet tea, sodas) and high oxalate foods (grits, okra, turnip greens, collard greens) that can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and kidney stones.
Home to the free android app Oxalate Counts found on Google Play.
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