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Dietary changes after Chemotherapy: a Diet Low in Oxalates

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 25 June 2021
Dietary changes after Chemotherapy: a Diet Low in Oxalates

A diet high in oxalates after chemotherapy can have serious implications for some people. With careful attention to diet, often assisted by prescribed probiotics and supplements, oxalate levels can be reduced, and health conditions managed well.

Oxalate, also known as acid oxalates, oxalic acid or calcium oxalate, is a naturally occurring molecule found in abundance in plants and humans. It is a naturally substance found in many foods.

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, oxalates bind to calcium during digestion in the stomach and intestines and leave the body in the stool.

The problem with oxalates is we cannot digest them but if oxalates pass through the GI tract without causing problems, then they aren't much of an issue.

How do you know if oxalates are an issue for you and whether you need a low oxalate diet?

If you have any of the below health issues, you may have a problem with oxalates:

fibromyalgia, migraines, dizziness, brain fog, urinary issues, joint pain/stiffness, inflammatory bowel disease and other gut issues, kidney stones 

Oxalates and kidney stones

Oxalate that is not bound to calcium travels as a waste product from the blood to the kidneys where it leaves the body in the urine. There are many different types of kidney stones, but eight out of 10 stones are calcium oxalate stones. If there is too much oxalate and too little liquid in the urine, calcium oxalate fragments are created. As the crystals begin to increase in number, they stick to one another to form a larger crystal known as a kidney stone.

Kidney stones are a big concern for those who have or are at risk for kidney disease. The process of stone formation may cause damage to renal tissue, thus decreasing renal function. 

Those with regular kidney stones have been found to have a higher rate of oxalate absorption.

Healthy eaters, such as those who follow vegan, vegetarian, raw food, Paleo, ketogenic, and other low carb diets often have high oxalate diets so this can be very confusing when those with clean diets experience gut issues similar to those eating junk food.

Vegetarians who consume greater amounts of vegetables will have a higher intake of oxalates, which may reduce calcium availability. This may be an increased risk factor for women, who require greater amounts of calcium in the diet. 

To lower your risk of kidney stones, add a high-calcium food to a meal that contains a food with higher levels of oxalate. It's more important to focus on pairing a high-oxalate food with a high-calcium food, and then to look at the nutrients individually.

Some foods will be both moderately high in calcium and high in oxalate, so adding a second source of calcium may be needed.

Do you need to follow a low oxalate diet plan? Ask us and we will design a personalised diet for you.

Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsDiets & RecipesCancer


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia