Do you suffer from kidney stones? Or maybe your aunt has a wild case of gout, and its
something that is always the centre of the conversation at family dinners? If so, this post
will be well worth the read! If not, this may prevent you or a friend from suffering from
either kidney stones or gout.
Oxalic acid is an organic compound composed of carboxylic acids. These are mild destructive
acids which may irritate the lining of the gut when consumed. They are found in a wide
range of foods, mainly plant foods. Many people are unaware of the importance of oxalic
acids in the body; they play a major role in the metabolism of plants and animals such as
Like any other compound, oxalic acid is required by our body in specific quantities. Too
much oxalic acid in the body may negatively affect the absorption of calcium due to the fact
that it binds to it and gets converted into indigestible oxalate salt, otherwise known as
kidney stones. In most cases the kidney stones are small enough to be passed out in the
urine. However, further development can lead to blockages in the urinary tract which can
cause severe pain in the abdomen area and in some cases lead to nasty and seriously painful
We only get about 20-40% of oxalates from the food we eat. The remaining percentage can
be made in the body from amino acids such as hydroxyproline in the liver, vitamin C or
glyoxylate in the red blood cells. Foods that contain high amounts of oxalate and may cause
over accumulation in the body are Rhubarb, chocolate, spinach, beet, almonds and other
nuts. However, in chocolate the oxalate content varies- it increases with the percentage of
cocoa present. For example 100% dark chocolate has a greater quantity than 80% dark
chocolate. White chocolate has a very low level of oxalate.
Purines are well-known for their role as building blocks in DNA and RNA, but they are more
than that. Purines have their own special receptor systems which allows them to connect
with the cell membranes of different cells within the human body. In the cardiovascular
system, they play a role in assisting with correct heart function through blood flow and
oxygen delivery. In the digestive system they assist in fluid secretion and the movement of
food through the gut. They are also quite important in other biological molecules such as
ATP and NADH.
Purines, like oxalates are widespread in foods. They are commonly derived from offal, game
meat such as rabbit, venison or pheasant, oily fish, most seafood, meat and yeast extracts
such as marmite or Bovril and mincemeat.
Once in the body they are broken down to form uric acid. The formation of uric acid crystals
may increase the risk of developing gout, a type of arthritis, due to the deposition of these
crystals in the joints. This leads to stiffness and difficulty in movement. However, studies
show that people with high vitamin C diets are less likely to develop gout as vitamin C may
be a counteractive that inhibits uric acid from crystallising. If the kidneys become too
saturated with uric acid, they may bind with calcium and form salts that build up into kidney
stones. Hence too much purine will have similar effects to high oxalate levels in the body.
To prevent this from occurring, foods that contain high levels of oxalate and purine may
need to be eliminated or limited in the diet in order to control the build up of salts in the
kidney and the crystallisation of uric acid, which leads to kidney stones and gout
For more information and or any further enquires, call us, email us or come in for a chat
with Sonal and Arjan.