The point of oxalates

IMPORTANT: This post has been amended to include a key update below, following my experiences of over 4 months on a low-oxalate diet and the modified decision I have reached regarding such a diet (…and the need for balance) as a result.

Everything in nature has a point so why, in the scheme of things, would so many foods contain an indigestible, potentially harmful ingredient if we humans are not meant to consume them. Or is it a case that we are not meant to at all and everybody, collectively, got that part wrong? That diet will evolve away from certain food groups into very different sources of nutrition, in the coming era, as we come to realise this, or, extracts will be taken from certain plants and processed into more palatable versions so we can gain the benefit without the harmful side-effects?

Or, is it really a case that just some of us simply aren’t cut out for these foods, because our systems are different, more sensitive, not by fault but by design?

The link between oxalate poisoning and autism is holding my attention wrapt because, in the space of the same 18 months that I have come to realise I am on the spectrum, and that this has been right at the heart of almost every challenge life has ever presented me with, one way or another, I have also come to suspect…and now, with little doubt….that oxalates in foods are a real problem for my body. And they are almost everywhere, very hard to avoid in so many foods, but very starkly high, as-in by a factor of 100s, in certain foods that have become especially popular in modern diets (far less so the diet of our parents and grandparents) such as chocolate, spinach, sweet potatoes and the ever-popular white potato (even if we do eat most of them as “fries”), the whole range of nuts and seeds, gluten-free grains and other substitutes, etc.

About a month into my oxalate detox process, aside from playing witness to a wide array of clues and symptoms suggesting I am on the right track with this, I am deep into the kind of innate and highly enlightening unravelling of what I innately know on this topic process that can only ever come from a very deep intimacy with something, because there is always a kind-of deep intimacy present when you engage with a particular foe for a very long time. As in, you and this foe end up in a sort of wrestling match where your long-running codependency and familiarity with each other becomes ever more clearly spotlighted the more you thrash around on the floor together, a truth that has been shown up to me many times in my life, in very different forums involving people, things and situations that felt like my biggest challenges. Out of that mosh pit, ultimately, we learn certain key things about ourselves….and why we and this person, situation or thing had to come together, for our own evolution.

So why do oxalates and autistic people come together in a very particular format that is not quite the same as those who struggle with them in different ways, for instance the kidney stone formers, or struggle not at all.

To remind you from my earlier blog Oxalates, Pain and Autism, science has found that those with autism have 3 times the level of oxalates in their plasma as the average person. Its not yet known (more studies are desperately needed) if we autistic people also overproduce oxalates, as the body does produce some as part of its natural chemistry, or if this all comes from the mis-processing of dietary sources. Yet it seems to be the likelihood that an increased incidence of issues with gut permeability in autism (so called “leaky gut”), made worse or caused by oxalates, facilitate the absorption of oxalates through the stomach lining into the blood stream via which they are distributed to a wide variety of other locations in tissues, organs, blood vessels and even, probably, across the blood-brain barrier into the brain where they may cause, complicate or worsen cognitive and other factors reliant on the brain.

What I am reading in the forums, and in commentaries from trials involving lowered oxalate diets for autistic kids, is that there is a compelling trend of autistic traits becoming less “problematic”, less pronounced and easier to cope with by the person with autism that is put onto a low oxalate diet. I just read such an account from a 68 year old male, who was only diagnosed with autism very recently, whose quality of life and ability to engage with others has increased markedly from dropping the oxalate-heavy diet; so much so that he now considers this an essential lifestyle change.

Conversely, I can corroborate that on the especially high oxalate diet of my last couple of years, my autism traits began to show up, and trip me up, like never before…except for, perhaps, when I was a child; the one difference being that, back then, I would get the most almighty cravings for calcium rich foods (which can help mitigate the effect of oxalates), often at 4am, when I would plunder the fridge for cheese and milk (neither of which I am now able to tolerate in my diet). These days, I suspect my mineral levels are not only depleted as a result of my high oxalate diet but that they have not been sufficient to mop-up the damage those oxalates cause; a situation I am working hard to change.

As I lower my oxalate intake (and increase my minerals and B4 dosages), I am finding that 4am is a time of major “oxalate dump” symptoms, waking me up nearly every morning with an array of “fun” symptoms!

I assume this is a classic time for the liver to attempt to complete its clear-out cycle of the night; but oh what a strain that must be when it has to handle such a load of indigestible ingredients…and repeatedly (until the pattern of “wrong food consumption” finally stops, which given my mature age, means my poor body has been put through endless cycles of clear-out and repair for decades…no wonder I am chronically fatigued). Paradoxically, the more oxalate-heavy you are, the more you sometimes crave high-oxalate foods and so the cycle continues, unabated, if not noticed or addressed.

I have also identified, compellingly, that these poor oxalate processing traits are ones I shared with my mother, who…also…seemed to plunge into more overtly autistic traits post menopause (we didn’t know that back then) and who, 16 years older than I am now, succumbed to liver cancer. She hardly ever drank in her adult life; the reason cancer targeted liver had always perplexed me but now I wonder about this. She would often gorge on what I now know are oxalate rich foods: brazil nuts, beetroots, arrowroot biscuits, potatoes, almonds although, thankfully, we were not a family that was big on chocolate outside of the Christmas period when I was a kid (that has been my own adult weakness, only made worse by the popular modern justification that cacao is a health food).

Oxalate crystals are known to be the precursor or breast cancer. They are what mammograms pick up on as a first clue.

So, why are we all consuming this wrong and highly toxic diet, so heavy in grains, seeds and nuts, spinach and beets, various starches such as corn or arrowroot (oh how my mother was addicted to those arrowroot biscuits…she could consume a whole packet at a sitting), chocolate and potatoes…these are just some of the main contenders all over our supermarket shopping.

The trend for vegan, paleo, keto, juicing, etc, diets hasn’t helped…what a legacy of oxalate health challenges these fads are starting to throw up, I now read. The forum I belong to is full of people with keto-regret! I’ve heard horror stories of health symptoms begun after people went off in pursuit of the health benefits of green juicing and high protein vegan diets.

Maybe these are fine, within reason, for many people and its not as though I am about to start eating meat again (some people who switch to low-oxalates actually do) but…based not the data…it sounds like these are 3 x more risky or precarious lifestyle choices if we are on the autism spectrum. Even more so if we don’t even realise our autism, which renders us short-sighted to our own health risks whilst so overwhelmed by symptoms made worse by our diet that we can hardly begin to find our way out of the mess.

I was 51 when I finally realised that my lurking suspicions really did point towards Asperger’s. Female Asperger’s, as I have written about before, is especially slippery because it so-often gets missed due to a tendency in girls to try and hide their differences, and their struggles, away out of sight to “normalise” and “fit in”. Many of them make it to mature adulthood, or through their whole lives, without ever owning their autism to anyone, let alone themselves in a lot of cases. I’ve read of women in their 70s or older who finally find this key piece of their own jigsaw and then suddenly everything falls into place in their understanding (so I thank my lucky stars I was “just” 51…), why they struggled, always felt so different and as though they were forever swimming upstream. It’s known as “wrong planet” syndrome and some of us felt like that for years before we even started to get anywhere.

This brings particularly challenges when there are physical anomalies involved. By which I mean, if our bodies behave differently, or more extremely, to certain triggers and circumstances, compared to neurotypical people, we are likely to get missed, fobbed off or treated with completely the wrong protocol.

I was in the Trying Low Oxalates forum last night when a woman described how her little son, who is autistic, has been found to have this issue with oxalates so the whole family has now switched to a low-oxalate diet from a keto-wholefoods inspired one with lots of nuts, spinach, high-oxalate grains etc. The little boy is in terrible distress, especially overnight (that 4am thing again…?) and both her and her husband are in such pain, with crystals coming out of eyelids and flesh, aching backs and hurting limbs, all the same horrors of discomfort that I have been gong through lately.

Its one of the reasons for my punny title “the point of oxalates” because these things are sharp, shard-like, often long needles of torture, whether visible to the eye or so minuscule and hidden away in tissue that all we have to go on is the inexplicable burn, itch or muscle, joint or ligament pain, the sudden skin rashes and the intense inflammation as they try to process OUT.

One of the reasons I am sat her writing this right now at 6.30am is that I was woken up for my usual early morning symptom ride only, this time, couldn’t get back to sleep because of severe itching on my forearms. They are suddenly covered in hard bumps, the like of which I have had at different phases before but not for quite a while. During those other times, I was so perplexed (and embarrassed) by them, assuming them to be some sort of pimple or cyst, so I have tended to treat the area with tea tree or salt scrubs or, during their teenage occurrences, I would often slap “spot” cream on them just as I did to my face, but to absolutely no avail. They never responded to any protocols I tried and so these hard pimples would hang around for weeks or months of making me feel self-conscious, only to disappear when it suddenly suited them.

As I got older, these episodes started to leave white patches when they finally went away, as though my skin had forgotten how to produce melanin in those areas…so now my forearms are covered in these white patches, which I used to call vitiglio. I also have them on my shins, where there have been times I felt like I had a bag of gravel under the delicate skin over my shin-bone and yet, at other times, those bumps and lumps would disappear. In the new light of oxalates and what I read and see pictures of on the forum, regarding crystals under the skin and actually coming out of the skin during detox, this all makes new sense. There must have been dozens of times in my life when, due to some unwittingly lowered oxalate load in my diet or some other environmental change drawing them out; in my case, I am noticing oxalate dumping is linked to weather conditions, moon phase and solar behaviour. A few days ago, the planet was side-swiped by a solar wind from a significant solar flare and my detox symptoms went through the roof; these kinds of solar event have precipitated suddenly exacerbated oxalate “dumping” symptoms several times this month and I can track the trend over the last decade.

And if that trend of oxalate retention alternating with oxalate dumping lies at the heart of many years chronically variable “mystery” health challenges that alienate doctors and bewilder you and your family, the big point to mention is how closely oxalates are linked to pain. For about two weeks since this detox began, I experienced agonising pain to, first, my right shoulder blade and then deep into the intercostal tissues between ribs, both front and back of my upper right torso. No exaggeration to say I felt like I had been in a car crash and that this was almost unbearably horrible yet, in typically bewildering fashion, the pain all completely ceased for three days and I felt wonderful by contrast…and then came back again for another day. The non-linearity of this is like an exaggerated version of my last 16 years; with the kind of variability that stops doctors from taking you seriously…how can you hurt so much and then not? It also makes going onto medications a pretty bad idea because the long lasting side-effects tend to outweigh the consistency of the pain; thus, I have never felt like I want to muddy the water of my own symptoms, which I try to keep track of in an effort to understand them, by adding a hotch-potch of side-effects into the equation.

Two possible points to oxalates keep coming up for me throughout all this.

One is the autism factor, taken quite literally, as in the modality of feeling autonomous as an inbuilt modus operandi of being autistic. When you are wired this way, there are two routes into why oxalates might have become this codependency yet challenge to your wellbeing in equal parts. One is that you inadvertently end up eating what your instincts already know you shouldn’t out of the sheer survival necessity of “normalising” to fit in with society (yet when there is innate understanding that what you eat is toxic, however subliminal, I assume the body makes big effort to do what it thinks is best to disarm the toxic effect by, perhaps, storing it deep into body tissue as a misplaced attempt to take the strain off key organs such as the kidneys). The other is that you get something out of the heightened sensitivity that comes from dialling up your already acutely alert autistic nervous system by attaching oxalates to nerve fibres and inflaming the skin and other sensory membranes so that they announce every nuance of alteration in your environment, meaning that they now ring like a clanging alarm bell to alert you of the minutest threats to your safety.

Does this serve a useful purpose? Thousands of years ago, I have no doubt, we on the autism scale would have been the outliers of the hunter-gatherer tribe, keeping watch while the social groups gathered noisily and distractedly over food, sexual competition and all the rest of it yet we, with our ears forever pinned back and our highly tuned senses keyed to pick up on every nuance of variation in the environment, would have made sure none of the group were the target of a surprise attack. We would have used those same skills to sniff and vibe into food before we encouraged anyone else to eat it…is is safe, is it poisonous….we would always somehow know this, and we would have also intuited when it was the right time or place to stay put or move on. I also have no doubt, from personal experience, that we would have been particularly well tuned-in to the least fathomable aspects of reality and then respected for our seeming grasp of things beyond this world. In other words, in a hunter gatherer tribe, we would have been far more than useful and would have had our place and purpose, keeping the collective safe and thriving, even as we functioned best at the perimeter of the group and not in its social hub.

Then, somewhere through the annuls of time, we all lost our way, human diet changed beyond recognition with the advent of farming, then processing, and those with autistic skillsets lost their purpose, along with their protected niche in society; no longer valued for our innate if often inexplicable gifts now that science supposedly had everything covered, convincing “man” that he was the orchestrator of his own reality. Yes, we have popped up as soothsayers and advisors to kings, as poets and mathematicians, code breakers that win wars, the splitters of atoms, that kind of thing…but, in society as a rule, we lost our place and, worst than that, we were forced to assimilate to survive (likely, the worst thing that ever happened to us).

That is, assimilate or be treated as broken or even put away. And, if not broken by the very fact of not fitting in or being accepted and valued just as we are then broken by the habits of a lifestyle that doesn’t suit our particular biology. For instance, we are presented with “normal” dietary content that our bodies don’t work well with, if at all, which is to say such food then becomes a poison to us. When poisoned, its as though all the potential gifts of autism (and there are many) are swiftly turned into muddle and handicaps, sensory overwhelm and physical limitation, all in varying degrees per individual and the kind of diet they are presented with by parents or life circumstance. Yes, some with autism are born with great physical and mental challenges but they still, each, have their own personal high point waiting to be realised within them but, if the diet is all wrong, that potential gets buried or missed and those challenges may also be made so much more overt than they ever needed to be. So now we trip over our own highlights, our giftedness fallen from its graceful high-wire to become the very dungeons of our apparent ineptness; we have lost our footing and plummeted to earth. Suddenly, all the popular societal preconceptions about autism as “handicap” seem to hold water in the form of our clumsiness, thus we now fulfil the neurotypical viewpoint that autism is something to be eradicated or fixed.

But what if the trait of being the outlier is still useful, perhaps more so than ever in these transitional times, when our ability to feel into unknown situations, even as they unfold, could facilitate a degree of awareness and caution that would help prevent catastrophe for the collective? What if we need to be firing on all our autistic cylinders, not coached into “normality”, to take part in this useful way? What if this is the way we become the joiner-in-ers that we are so often berated for not being; only, we join in to the collective effort for survival, not by attending the neurotypical “party” but by being most fully ourselves. Surely it has to start with diet because, as I am rapidly finding out, wrong diet renders some of us into a shadow of our full potential. Conversely, working at finding the right diet….and the nuances of that are likely to vary with each autistic individual (that’s the point, we are all completely different)…we could then flower in new ways that surprise even ourselves.

In between bouts of oxalate detox, I am starting to sense the truth of all this and to experience it, for myself….because, from these first glimmers of new feelings coming into my body to fill the spaces where an unnameable toxic feeling has resided for so long, I suspect I would hardly know myself without this poison in any part of my system, so long has it been there. I am only a short way into the process but I can already glean the potential of this; and its so worth the sacrifice of old eating habits.

I got to thinking about how that little boy whose parents (in the forum) have realised he has an oxalate issues and so they are onto the autism, onto the oxalates, before any of this has the chance to have permanent detrimental effect on his life. So, in a sense, he is already thriving far better than I ever did. Fifty years ago, my autism went completely unnoticed where his has already been made a focal point of his parenting method. My struggle with certain foods also went unnoticed (the knowledge and understanding of all this simply did not exist at the time) and, in fact, my diet continued along what could almost be said were the worst possible lines so that I was always swimming against the current of my potential from day one.

If that sounds like an exaggeration then I can assure you that, as I release these oxalates from various corners of my body where I suspect they have been hiding for a long time, its as though they have been holding certain memories intact for me in there, because I am having remembrance after remembrance of my struggles with food, of repeated reactions I would get after certain habitual meals that I now know were loaded with trigger ingredients, how they often made me suddenly exhausted or befuddled, or weak in the limbs, with odd cramps and pains in my body, or suddenly desperate to gorge on either antidote foods that I craved to put the toxic-factor right (as I mentioned before, such as high calcium foods and also bicarbonate of soda in water in the middle of the night) or even more of the toxin itself, as I mentioned before. When I indulged in oxalate risk foods, I can now identify, it would often take me right to the edge, into a sort of mini-death experience (more recently, drinking cacao would really do this to me, almost knocking me into a heart-palpitating swoon) and I became addicted to it.

And, after all, a familiarity with living on the edge is right there at the core of being autistic; so perhaps we are drawn to it more than most.

Take chocolate, for instance…and you don’t have to be autistic to relate to this one but perhaps being female helps. At certain times, when our emotions get too much for us, we crave chocolate like our life depends on it. So what is it: does chocolate bury the negative feelings, does it over-ride those feelings with the endorphin rush like a near-death ecstasy experience or is it even more complex than that?

What I have come to suspect is that oxalates can serve as a sort of storage device for untenable, overwhelming emotions. It’s like wrapping them up and tucking them out of the way, as quickly as possible. Perhaps there is also an element of storing them up for another day, like a sort of cursory tale that may prove useful in a similar situation at some point in the future. We hoard them “just in case” and oxalates provide the storage canister.

You can parallel this with the way the body deals with the toxic effect of oxalates themselves. As in, the detox process only starts to happen when the body thinks a certain toxin has ceased to be replenished, at which point it begins to offload stored toxins ready to be excreted via skin and gut. So, by eating more oxalate-rich food, we can abruptly halt the release of large amounts of oxalates from body tissues into the blood and waste disposal system (which can feel deeply unpleasant, as per my current oxalate “dump”) and so all the toxic quality of those oxalates is, temporarily, wrapped back up into storage again…we feel more contained for a while. When we eat chocolate, the effect upon our emotions is similar, wouldn’t you say? One minute we are feeling quite unhinged, with almost too much emotion to deal with and then, well, we have it all back under control for a while (at least until next time, and more chocolate).

When we eat chocolate, both of those things could be happening at the same time, in cahoots with each other. Both those free-roaming oxalates that want to be cleansed from the body and our overwhelming emotions are temporally contained again….at least for a while. So, is consuming oxalate-rich food tied in with our need to cope with ever more overwhelming emotions to get on with our lives? And do women have more overwhelming emotions stored up in them than men, built up from generation after generation of suppressed unfairness and trauma, yet mostly shoved way out of sight in order to keep their social behaviours in check (as we are all taught to do). So much so that, every now and then, their bodies take steps to eliminate them…resulting in extreme pain, emotional outbursts, speaking their minds to all and sundry and all the risk that entails (we conveniently label this PMS). So, in order to contain their “inappropriate” emotions again, women learn to eat oxalate-rich chocolate, and perhaps chips, nuts and high-oxalate carbs made into cakes too, at such times; encouraged by all the advertising and, yes, egging each other on to do likewise.

Suddenly, having consumed the family-sized Galaxy bar, all is calm again; they have stepped back into the fold, all that inappropriate stuff is neatly wrapped up out of sight once more, their boyfriend gets off the hook with their bad behaviour and all is right with the world. I give you the average monthly cycle of the female; and, as we all know, the moon has a lot to do with that. I have certainly identified a strong link between moon phases and my own alternating oxalate store-or-release behaviours (the full moon seems to want me to let it all go…). I really don’t miss my monthly cycles; they were a horror ride that left me unsure of my own best direction to go, much of the time, plus I also became actively afraid of unleashing the person I was when I let all the pain and sudden realisation “out” on a full moon. In hindsight, I can see how I labelled that part of me “inappropriate” just as I hid my Asperger traits away; I wanted it all under lock and key in my tireless effort to be accepted by other people and oxalates presumably helped me out with that.

Which is one of the reasons I have come to suspect that oxalates and emotional overwhelm work in cahoots with each other. As far as I can tell from my own experiences, autism is all about feeling things, almost too intensely; as in, I know I use my body and my feelings as a major source of cognition as opposed to being all in the head. Yes, I can seem to be all in the head because my overwhelming emotions sometimes drive me into OCD habits and routines or overthinking and over-structuring things to try and cope with my overwhelm or distract from feelings that get far too much for me, but that is quite different to being top heavy in the way that neurotypical people tend exist in the head. I suspect this is an enigma that confuses people about autism because, in my view, we don’t lack feeling, of empathy, or emotional responses but, rather, tend to have too much of all of that…so we seek methods to contain it all, the result being that we can seem quite the opposite. We lock it all up into rhythmic, structured, repetitious behaviours and we look for storage containers to pour our overwhelming feelings into; be that a hobby or a part of the body.

So, oxalates are the very Tupperware we called for because, when oxalates get relocated into body tissue, its as though we can store memories into those tissues and hold them in containment, where they won’t be so overwhelming on a day-to-day basis. I suspect this is why oxalates gravitate towards old wounds or operation sites, including emotional wounds (its a well known concept that cancer begins in such places). Problem being that oxalates are sharp, toxic and obstructive and they create long-term problems…the time bomb waiting to go off.

Is this desperate need for a kind of emotional storage device, to contain our overwhelming emotions and awarenesses, all the nuances of our highly observant nervous system, which seems to pick up on all the fine details other people miss, one of the reasons autistic people tend to store oxalates in body tissue, as opposed to flushing them out through the waste disposal? We tend to like filing systems so perhaps this is just another version of a love of computer software or arranging the various objects we like to collect. Our bodies become a giant hard drive made up of crystals that store memories from our past experiences; important to do when the sensory body is as much of an important part of your cognition process as the brain.

I was watching the incredible film My Octopus Teacher the other night and it has stuck with me how this incredibly intelligent, anticipatory, strategic and, yes, emotionally sensitive animal has two thirds of its cognition in its body and just a third in its brain. But then I don’t know why I was so surprised really; it is only the sheer dominance of the very idea of the neurotypical human as “normal” that makes the idea of this sound so bizarre when it’s really an everyday reality for those of us with autism. Yes, we not only feel but think with our bodies so why wouldn’t we develop shortcuts and storage devices to save ourselves from having to keep repeating key sensory experiences? Now we know what they are like, we can alert ourselves when those situations arise again and so we become the high-vigilant sensory beings we so often are.

Of course, this doubles up for another autistic purpose; when we add oxalates into our nerves, our skin, our stomachs (which is, itself, like another brain), etc, we inevitably increase our already highly sensitive level of awareness by, yes, probably a factor of at least 3 and so we become an even more accomplished early-warning system than we were beforehand, for the benefit of others as well as ourselves ourselves; the canaries in the coalmine and, yes, the outliers of the tribe who pay attention to what is really going on. Suddenly, we notice everything happening in our highly overstimulating world and so this facility can quickly flip from being a help-mate for keeping us safe into being the source of extreme sensory overstimulation and chronic illness, as I have been testament to over the last decade or so…of leading a painfully oversensitive, histamine flooded, environmentally triggered life.

So, here lies what may have started as a vested interest in storing up oxalates as a a means of enhancing innate autistic sensibilities (all chronic or acute health challenges have a vested interest hidden deep inside of them somewhere; even cancer serves us somehow and discovering the vested interested, and then disarming it, can be the means to realising a miracle healing). That vested interest in storing up oxalates, as in to make them into a data storage and alarm system, soon wears thin when a person’s health turns into chronic pain and other oxalate-triggered challenges and, by then, its all too hard to turn the clock back. Especially if the person doesn’t realise that it all comes back to their diet…or, they are not in a situation where they are capable of orchestrating their own detox or getting someone else to support them in doing so, particularly if they are being cared for by others in a way that constitutes dependency. This is why it is so important for carers to realise that this oxalate-autism link exists.

Fortunately, I am able to make this choice for myself and, though this detox process is one of the hardest and most unnerving processes I have yet been though, not to mention all the difficulties and sadness inherent in giving up or reducing some favourite foods (and at Christmas time too!) I can already sense it is so worth it. Somewhere in the cracks between pain, where glimmers of enhanced cognition, lighter mood, short bursts of exhilaration and the increasing absence of that old-familiar feeling of being constantly poisoned, which is something I have talked about for years, I get to taste a preview of my future life and, frankly, chocolate and nuts simply aren’t worth missing out on all that potential.

If there comes a point when I can indulge in a small amount of some of the foods I am currently eliminating then I will but, right now, I have no interest in that at all. Stories I am reading on the forum (and thank goodness for that forum!) from people who are several months or years in are greatly encouraging me and though, as yet, I had found relatively few anecdotes from adults with autism on the forum, since most members are parents of autistic kids, those I have heard from report dramatic improvements in their abilities to navigate being autistic in ways that don’t isolate or distress them as they once did but which allow their unique gifts to shine through. This is all I have ever wanted in life! I don’t want to be a storage device for pain any longer, like some sort of walking, pre-emptive, time-bomb (which was only necessary when I felt constantly under threat due to my differences to other people, thus forced into hiding who I really am).

My ideal is to be, fully, proudly and vocally, my autistic self, thriving in full participatory partnership with all aspects of life that I choose to engage with, giving all I can to the collective effort from my own particularly-wired skillset, whilst retaining the right to preserve my intense need for autonomy as far as my intimate, creative, experiential and intuitive life goes because that is, frankly, how I am made. I really thrive best as the outlier because its how I get to notice and experience things that I might otherwise miss if all my energy was expended in fitting in with a social model of existence that is quite different to the way my priorities are stacked; and there is just so much waiting to be experienced.


On re-reading my 2015 post on Epstein Bar Virus and its potential links to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, it occurs to me that the hoarding of oxalates in the body, in some people’s cases, may be an attempt to protect itself from a viral load, such as EBV. Of course, believing I had an underlying Post Viral Synrome caused by EBV is one of the main theories that induced me to follow the Medical Medium Anthony William’s diet plan for the past few years.

It occurs to me that hoarding oxalates in body tissues and organs might be a protective mechanism used by the body to “wall off” what it deems to be an “outside threat” from this virus gone array (or, indeed, any long term post-viral load) and such “hidden” viral loads are often implicated in chronic health conditions. The deeper the virus has gone off into tissue, the deeper (perhaps) those crystals of oxalate are therefore stored to stand guard over them, is my theory. So, tackle the viral load with good eating and healthy outlooks (the kind of mindset I am cultivating via The Gupta Program) and hopefully everything will start to fall into place, and for this Anthony William’s diet resources are most useful as a grounding in pursuing a balanced, natural, at least largely plant-based eating plan. Eating well has been foundational to all the significant headway I have made in my health these past few years.

One major snag I have hit with the Medical Medium’s diet, as previously mentioned, is that I believe I have issues processing oxalates in some of those food suggestions; in fact, some of the foods he recommends as “healing” are very high in oxalates and if you get too caught up in his enthusiasm, you very quickly find you are overdoing some of those foods. Also oxalates bind to calcium and so this can exacerbate a calcium shortfall leading to depletion of bones etc (which can be another side effect of EBV in the body and certainly has a bearing on chronic health conditions). As stated before, I have now modified my diet to eliminate very high oxalate foods such as spinach, sweet potato, almonds (and most nuts in general, except occassionally in moderation) and beetroot and no longer follow the celery juice recommendation, though I pursued this for 3 years; green juices in general can be an problem if oxalates are a personal challenge.

However, and this is a very big however, after over 3 months of carefully following the oxalate lowering diet, which did have some positives but they plateaued at month 2, I have taken the following stance, because what I see happening in the oxalate forums, and what I see up ahead for me if I continue with their protocol, does not look like a healthy diet or lifestyle. I was beginning to feel a significant depletion of good nutrition from all the colourful and varied food sources I previously enjoyed (replaced by more second-rate substitutions, such as processed options or white rice, an over-relance on cauliflower where once I enjoyed potatoes, a general drabness in my choice of veg and fruit to the point I hardly knew which, if any, fruit or veg were safe) combined with a general absence of joy around food…and if there is one topic I have written about copiously, of late, its the requirement of joy in order to heal!

In fact, I believe it is central to everything if we are to thrive in life at all…and its an insider job. Take away your entitlement to prepare, look forward to and then relish, without undue fear, some of the most natural and delicious, healthy, food sources that others take for granted and you are quickly placed on a road to disillusionment and dispair. You begin to wonder what you have done to diserve such a thing…and this is no route to healing.

In light of the viral theory, I would also add that it is potentially foolhardly to eliminate oxalates abruptly, or even slowly where the longterm aim is to avoid them altogether, since the inevitable flushing of oxalates from the body might very-well result in reactivation of the virus they are holding at bay, causing a prolongued flare-up or, if you are up and down with your eating behaviours, one nasty flare after another, interspersed with times of seeming recovery…the kind of bewildering health variability that is the very bane of so many people with chronic health conditions, triggering off a lack of faith in their own recovery progression and a whole lot of other symptoms, such as fatigue, along the way. Rather than this, I would much rather pursue a steady diet of some oxalate inclusion, focusing on low to moderate levels (perhaps spinach and I have to part ways now); and on this plan, I seem to be doing rather well, so far.

I therefore choose not to follow an extreme oxalate avoidance diet any more, as so often advocated and strictly adhered to (with such strong opinions rife!) in the forums, because this would mean eliminating just so many healthy foods and I choose balance for good health. Since making that change-over, to reintroduce the occassional piece of chocolate, more potatoes, a sprinkle of pecans on my salads, maybe some tahini, a portion of delicious steamed kale and who can live without baked beans, I am feeling so much better in myself and The Gupta Program is moving mountains when it comes to neutralising fear around “doing the wrong things”, since the body seldom lets us down with its cues and preferences. Bringing in more relaxation around food is just as important as being guarded towards foods that are deemed unsuitable, perhaps more so and, in these softly-softly ways, we get to, so powerfully, shift the inner workings of our own biology so that it behaves differently. For more exploration of these sentiments, see my post Back to Centre Again.


This blog, it’s content and any material linked to it are presented for autobiographical, anecdotal purposes only. They are not meant as advice. They are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. The material and opinions shared are anecdotal and should not be considered to be medical advice or diagnosis. This article does not constitute a recommendation for the treatment or choices described and the effects related are my own anecdotes, not a prediction of how anyone else might respond. I do not advocate taking any of the supplements referred to or following any of the choices or steps outlined and suggest that you conduct your own enquiries with medical advisors. Please consult with a licensed healthcare professional if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention or before embarking on a new eating plan.

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