I recovered from fibro thanks to an oxalate-free diet. So let’s understand what oxalates are, and which foods contain them! Put simply, plants, fruits & veggies protect themselves from insects by producing their own ‘pesticides’ called oxalates. For some reason, fibro sufferers seem to be very sensitive to them (probably due to leaky gut), and they seemed to be the cause of all my joint pains, irritable bladder and IBS. Cutting out those foods resulted in immediate improvement. Funnily enough, farmers and vets have long known about oxalate poisoning in cattle – they exhibit symptoms like stiff limbs and unexplained exhaustion (sound familiar?) and the simple cure is to move them to a different field where the high-oxalate plant (eg sorrel) is no longer present. A few days later, cow is back to top form. Wow.
Here’s a great article that goes into more detail about the science. (also covers phytates – mainly found in legumes – and saponins – chickpeas & quinoa)
You can download a full, comprehensive list of high/medium/low oxalate foods by signing up to my newsletter (and there are of course other helpful articles dotted around the net). But if you want to get started right away, here are my big 5 to cut out effective today: spinach, potatoes & all other root veg (carrots, parsnips, turnip, sweet potato), rhubarb, tea (black, green), cocoa (milk and dark chocolate, white is fine). You know that weird coated teeth feeling you get when you eat spinach? Pay attention to it, as that’s the first sign of oxalate content (same with very bitter chocolate).
One of the issues with classifying foods as high/medium/low oxalate is that the way foods are tested changes constantly, often giving varying results. Different cooking methods also affects the oxalate content (boiling kale lowers it, raw kale stays high). In general I would recommend fully cutting out all high and medium foods for the first 6 weeks. After that, you can slowly re-introduce some of the ones you miss the most, just 1 over the course of a few days, and see how you feel. You’ll know pretty instantly whether it’s a naughty food or not! I missed tea so much, I tried having one cup of very weak green tea a day. After 3 days, incredibly achy joints, needing to pee all the time… pretty obvious what the culprit was.