As is so often the case, I go off along a path of discovery or in pursuit of a theory with great gusto and enthusiasm, giving it my all, only to find what resonates about it…and what doesn’t…and then re-centre myself. In fact, like a swinging pendulum, I go off to explore one side (and by association, its polar opposite), before settling in that place of more balance; for me (which might not be the same as for anyone else I compare with on a forum or elsewhere).
After all, I am the only person that matters in my own healing path. “We are all unique and each have our own journey to take” is a mantra that has served me well over the years. A great many factors come in to how we react (or don’t) to certain things and we, also, have far more influence over how things play out than, well, most people imagine and a lot of this comes down to mindset and seeing the bigger picture before we take a very strong, fixed view on what is right or wrong (in health, or any other matter).
On having cause to re-read my 2015 post on Epstein Bar Virus and its (well known) potential links to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it occured 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 (the protective role of oxalates is well documented in plants). Of course, believing I had an underlying Post Viral Syndrome 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 on which I, mostly, felt like I was thriving. It was only when I started to experience some extreme issues related to certain foods late last summer, as posted about before, associating them with some higher oxalate foods I had introduced, or overdone, due to lockdown, that I decided to overhaul all of my eating by trying out the low-oxalate diet that is commonly spoken about online. I gave that diet my all for three solid months but have been relaxing it a little for some weeks now, and much more so this past couple of weeks, with the outcomes I will share a little further on in this post. But first to one of the points about oxalates, relative to chronic health conditions, that I want to raise (an adendum to my earlier post The Point of Oxalates).
It now 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. Of course, it is the thinking behind Post-Covid Syndrome (variably labelled Long Haul Covid or Chronic Post-Covid-19-Syndrome) too. 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 mostly plant-based eating plan, one where you basically fall in love with your food and come to regard it as primary medicine. Eating well has been foundational to all the significant headway I have made in my health these past few years and his material helped a lot in that regard.
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 (though, by the way, oxalates as an issue is something he pretty-much dismisses out of hand). 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 in my earlier posts on the topic, I have now modified my diet to eliminate very high oxalate foods such as spinach, sweet potato, almonds (also most nuts in general, except occassionally in moderation…no longer munching on high-protein nut-based snacks once or twice a day) and beetroot. I also no longer follow the 16 oz of celery juice every morning recommendation, though I pursued this for 3 years; and green juices in general can be an problem if oxalates are a personal challenge. My rule of thumb these days is that if I am about to eat a quantity of fruit or veg that looks rediculous until I process it through a juicer then forget it; we are designed to eat one piece at a time, not a whole grocer’s store at a sitting.
I also don’t plan to take a (quite standard for modern supplements) high dose, as in 1000mg or above, of vitamin C again and, at the moment, get my C from food sources (CQ10 and olive leaf are other great sources of antioxidants). I eat oodles of wild (frozen) blueberries daily, use acerola cherry and have followed what was quite the powerful craving for blood oranges this past couple of weeks, even though eating citrus fruit is considered a no-no in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome circles; but then, I really don’t feel like MCAS is a label that applies to me very much these days, perhaps because I took my foot off the high-oxalate pedal, but also because I am not thinking so very hard about what I can’t eat so much as what I can (and want to). Which leads me to this…
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 anything like a healthy diet or lifestyle I could sustain for the rest of my life. I was beginning to feel a significant depletion of good nutrition from all the colourful and varied food sources I previously enjoyed (replaced by second-rate, more highly processed or less nutritional substitutions, for instance white rice instead of wholegrain or wild rice; an over-reliance on cauliflower where once I enjoyed potatoes; and a miserable feeling of confusion or of needing to restrict portions of veg and fruit, in this already limited winter season, to the point I hardly knew which, if any, were “safe” to enjoy) 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 cultivating joy 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 isolation, disillusionment and dispair. You begin to wonder what you have done to deserve such a thing…and this is certainly 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 eventually 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 except, should I happen to be in a restaurant and its on my plate, I really don’t intend to make a fuss); and on this plan, I seem to be doing rather well, so far. Best of all, I’m excited about food again and getting back into my urge for cooking as the seasons turn around towards more variety.
UPDATE 2023: I subsequently reached the realisation that oxalates had to be reduced more than I was doing when this post was written, to further my health progression and am now following the slow-and-steady reduction advice of Sally Norton in her book “Toxic Superfoods”. For more updates on my progress, look out for more recent posts with the tag “oxalates”.
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.