Oxalates and Plants

Written by Cyndi O'Meara

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.
Time To Read: 9 minutes

February 9, 2023

I was taught from a young age to listen to my body.


If it whispers, it’s best to listen because if you ignore the whispers, it will eventually get louder until you can no longer ignore the pain or inflammation associated with a body that screams at you.


It wasn’t until my 50’s that I was getting some whispers that were turning into screams that I could no longer ignore.  I did the Changing Habits Fat Loss Protocol to find out what was causing the issue and found it was wheat.  I eliminated wheat from my diet 12 years ago and I’ve never looked back.  It was a major game changer, I got rid of monthly migraines, hip and back pain and weight gain.  The wheat was the impetus but losing toxic fat while doing the program was the healer especially with my migraines.


Last year I had a few more things happening, hair falling out more than was normal, right thumb pain and hip pain so much so that when I had been sitting in the car for more than 15 minutes I struggled to get out of the car without pain.  Something was wrong and I wasn’t going to put up with the issue.


To alleviate the hair issue, I became diligent with taking my colloidal minerals daily and painting iodine on my wrists.  Within a month my hair loss had significantly decreased to what I believe to be normal for me.


At the time I didn’t have any weight to lose and did not want to do the Fat Loss Protocol so decided after a bout of gastro to eat nothing but meat.  I noticed with just meat my right thumb pain completely disappeared, my crunchy sore hips on standing disappeared and all within a couple of days.  I introduced dairy and fruit back into the diet and listened to as many podcasts on carnivore eating as I could.  I’d already had a bit of an introduction to carnivore listening to Dr Anthony Chaffee at Low Carb Down Under on the Gold Coast and my son in law and daughter were also playing with the diet. Dr Chaffee got me thinking about it and questioning the current narrative of; ‘we must eat plants for health’.


Dr Natasha Campbell Mc Bride has always maintained in her book Vegetarianism Explained that meat and dairy feeds the human body, while plants feed the microbiome and we know how important the microbiome is for our wellbeing. I have seen Dr Natasha’s GAPS program create miracles and she is a doctor I trust when it comes to diet and helping physiologically and psychologically.


Why are plant compounds; histamine, salicylate, oxalate, amines, raphide and many more causing problems to human health?  Why is the carnivore diet having such incredible results?    It’s a question worth asking.


With the knowledge of Anthropology and Vitalism to guide us let’s look at it through that lens.


Firstly Anthropologically

Humans have lived in diversified environments where plants and animals varied in type, amounts and variety.  Some environments with extreme conditions such as deserts, high altitude and increasing distance from the equator subsisted on animals and animal products.   Whereas humans closer to the equator had a plethora of plants, animal, fish, tubers and so much more.  Foods were seasonal, sometimes there was plenty of fruit and other times tubers were in great supply.  Even in the extreme environments plants would have been available during an unseasonal rain or a thawing of the earth.


So, we know from as long as we have used tools that plants and animals and products of animals have been part of the human diet.


Secondly Vitalism

Before the hydraulic press (oil) and before flavours, colours, and additives all food was found on the earth, with humble implements and fire.  We ground, soaked, fermented, and cooked our food, culture and tradition was at the forefront of a daily food gathering and preparation.  The Australian Indigenous people knew how to prepare many toxic plant foods to render them safe to eat.  Nardoo is one such food that may have killed Burke and Wills (Australian Explorers) but our indigenous people were masters at preparation of this toxic seed.


Modern man now eats ultra-processed foods that are not really food but rather food like substances, our anthropological bodies cannot be healthy on these foods.  Our small world with transport enables us to have a banana or a sweet potato every day of our lives if we so wish no matter where you live.


Defence and Transport Mechanisms of Plants

Plants have defence and transport mechanisms, they are not like animals that can run and hide from their prey but rather they must stay in one place and defend themselves with plant toxins against predators, they must also spread, so use animals and humans to spread their seed through hitchhiking on animal hair and fur to indigestible seeds passing through the gastrointestinal tract and depositing through faecal matter in other parts of the land.


Modern humans have enjoyed a plethora of foods without realising that this may not necessarily be healthy for the species.  Through hybridisation, genetic modification, chemical fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides, and other pesticides monocultures have achieved feeding enormous amounts of people with less and less variety and more and more chemicals.


Histamine, oxalates, salicylates, and the like are in many our plant foods and sometimes animal foods depending on cooking methods.  Our 7 greatest food allergens include the plant and animal/fish kingdoms that we have eaten for eons.


Some create allergies, others food sensitivities, intolerances and others accumulate and become toxic at increasing levels.


I’m in my 60’s, I was born 1960 in Australia, we ate everything my mother made from scratch.  Meat, vegetables, fruit, grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, spices, mushrooms and herbs.  It was seasonal.  I remember January we ate nothing but apricots (we had a tree in the back yard), apples and pears from Harcourt, Victoria were our winter fruits.  It was rare to have a banana as they were not grown in our local area.  Sugar and flour was always in the pantry to make cakes and cookies.  Of course, things changed when we got our first supermarket in the 70’s in Bendigo.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that no food was really eaten out of season and I don’t remember all the food and health issues back then that I’m seeing today.

We have depleted the microbiome and the ecology of the soil through the herbicides used and the ultra-processed foods deemed to be edible as well as medicines, like antibiotics that have an ability to destroy the microbiome.  No one can escape this as water ways, rain, soil hold the short sightedness of our modern ways.


Resetting our health may be about eliminating what our body cannot handle, including plant toxins.  Once eliminated then tending the ecology of our gut to improve the bacteria that uses the plants and its compounds to create a symbiotic environment for them and us and trying to avoid the very things that destroy our ability to be healthy.



I’ve noticed a number of authors, releasing books on oxalates this year and previous years including Sally Norton, Melinda Keen, Gene Bruce, Rory Jones and Cindy Bokma.  At first oxalates were associated with kidney stones and infections but now science is seeing other issues with this plant compound including gastrointestinal problems and or surgery of the bowel, pain that comes and goes affecting different parts of the body, back pain and stiffness, cloudy urine, poor sleep and tired, brain fog, cognitive losses, mental fatigue, not healing completely, not responding to conventional and alternative therapies (1)


Foods high in oxalates include almonds, spinach, beans, grains, bran, sesame and other seeds, peanuts, swiss chard, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chocolate, rhubarb, figs, kiwi fruit, blackberries, black pepper, cumin and turmeric.


Foods low in oxalates include meats, dairy, eggs, fats and oils, and other non-plant foods, rocket, avocado, Bok Choy, cabbage, cauliflower, coriander, cucumber, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, mushrooms, green peas, watercress.


Differences in oxalate values for any single food may be due to the analytical method used, and/or biological variation from several sources, including cultivar (GM, variety of plant and hybridization), time of harvest, and growing conditions including the use of chemicals in particular glyphosate. In other words, it’s not a fixed value but variable.


Bioavailability of food oxalate, will also be affected by salt forms of oxalate, food processing and cooking methods, meal composition, and the presence of Oxalabacter formigenes and other bacteria and fungi in the gut. (2,3)


Oxalobacter formigenes degrades the plant compound oxalate.  Without these bacteria we get a buildup of oxalates and this can cause an increase in kidney stones and other oxalate toxic issues as discussed above.  This very important bacteria of our microbiome are destroyed by quinolone antibiotics, these are used in animal and human health as well as animal husbandry specifically poultry (chickens we eat) production.  An example is ciprofloxacin, one of the most widely used antibiotics worldwide.  Could this be one of the reasons that oxalates in our plant food are now causing health issues?


Other parts of our microbiome that are important in breaking down oxalates in the gut include bifidobacteria, which is highly sensitive to glyphosate and other broad-spectrum antibiotics.  Fortunately, we have two species of bifidobacteria in the Changing Habits new probiotic formula.


Your body will also make oxalates if there is a deficiency in B6, you have taken high doses of vitamin C either injected or orally and aspergillus fungi a common mould that does not usually effect people with robust immune systems but can infect those with compromised immune systems and produce oxalate.


Our body also has the ability to metabolise oxalates using the liver enzyme gamma-glutamyl carboxylase, but vitamin K is needed for this reaction, which is dependent on the shikimate pathway which glyphosate acts on and stops, therefore without the vitamin K our body struggles to metabolise oxalates.


Dr Stephanie Seneff, shows how using glyphosate in agriculture not only effects the plants we eat but also effects our microbiome putting us into a state where oxalates in food may not be broken down and accumulate in the body causing disease.  I have given you the reference to read the science and biochemistry around this. (4)


Therefore, it is important as much as possible to support farmers who do not use roundup and or glyphosate in the growing of their plants, in other words, buy certified organic produce or from a farmer who is trustworthy at your farmers market.


In Summary

Oxalates and other plant compounds have become the scape goat for an agricultural and food system that is destroying our very ability to digest plants, foods that we have eaten for thousands of generations.


So, to answer my initial question. Why is the carnivore diet having such incredible results?

It’s because our ability to digest plants is decreasing for numerous reasons including

  • Agriculture and fooling with plant DNA and the use of chemicals
  • Knowledge of food seasons and cooking preparations that rendered these plant compounds less toxic to humans
  • Laziness to prepare seasonal foods from scratch
  • Our dependency on medications that is destroying the very fabric of our microbiome.


What to Do?

  1. Try a low oxalate diet to see if symptoms improve, then improve the health of the very thing that is causing the problem – the microbiome. The Fat Loss Protocol is a low oxalate diet if you remove the spinach portions.
  2. Choose organic foods or foods from farmers you can trust
  3. Make sure your water is filtered from agricultural chemicals and toxins
  4. Start taking responsibility for your health, be mindful of the antibiotics and other medications you are taking and how they change your microbiome.
  5. Improve your gut health, by re-establishing the keystone microbes needed for health – Changing Habits Probiotics for starters
  6. Look around your house, in your bathroom (personal care products), cleaning cupboard and the like and make sure you are not using harsh chemicals. Find environmentally friendly products.
  7. Read my book Lab to Table, do my intro to nutrition and the microbiome course at The Nutrition Academy.
  8. Ferment your foods and drinks using Changing Habits New Probiotic Formula
  9. Get back into the kitchen to feed and nourish your family to heal this nation
  10. Look up the references I’ve provided, there is a lot more information about oxalates worth reading.

Once we start to heal the microbiome and our body then we should be able to do what our ancestors did and that is to eat both plants and animals.



  1. https://sallyknorton.com/oxalate-science/oxalate-basics/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35443224/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17604750/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4392553/

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