What are Oxalates and What Do They Do? Oxalates (or oxalic acid) are a chemical that’s naturally found in many foods. They are also produced in small amounts by the liver. They are in the category of an “anti-nutrient”. Other anti-nutrients include lectins and phthalates. Anti-nutrients are in healthy foods and they have a bitter taste. Oxalates exists as a protection for plants against predators (harmful bacteria, insects, and animals). Oxalates are strong acids constructed of two carboxylic acids (COOH groups). High protein intake can cause elevated oxalate levels. Vitamin C supplementation increases oxalate excretion by the kidneys and urinary bladder. Citrates bind with calcium (instead of oxalates), therefore, citrates help reduce the risk of the oxalates in the urine. Oxalate only gets absorbed from our gastrointestinal tract when it is in soluble form. Sodium oxalate and potassium oxalate are predominant soluble forms. Calcium oxalate is in the insoluble form. Gut bacteria plays a crucial role in the amount of oxalate available for absorption. Numerous species of gut bacteria break down oxalates. These include oxalobacter formigenes, lactobacillus, and some species of Bifidobacteria. The “good bugs” in probiotics help to block the absorption of oxalates. Leaky gut syndrome allows oxalates from food to enter the blood stream. Therefore, this condition predisposes you to not tolerate consuming high oxalate foods. When you consume anti-nutrients in plant foods, they prevent you from absorbing any beneficial nutrients present in other foods. Oxalates bind to the mineral calcium and prevents your body from absorbing the calcium. When oxalates bind with calcium, it forms calcium oxalate stones. Excessive oxalates can cause kidney stones. Other conditions linked to excessive oxalates include painful inflammation. Oxalates also interfere with the function of glutathione, lipid peroxidation, which is linked with atherosclerosis and painful joint deposits. The liver produces oxalates which act as chelators – they help carry toxins out of the body. Lowering the oxalate intake in the diet is a way to prevent oxalates from binding with calcium in the blood. The staple foods on diets such as SCD, GAPS, Paleo and veganism are very high in oxalates. High levels of oxalates are in the following foods: legumes, nuts and seeds, leafy greens (includes beet leaves, spinach, kale), cruciferous vegetables, the berries, and dark chocolate.