In this episode of Functional Medicine Research, I interview Sally Norton in a discussion about how oxalates affect your thyroid and your health. We covered what oxalates are and how they can damage the body. We also discussed how oxalates affect gut health, liver health, thyroid health as well as all the symptoms and associated conditions connected to oxalates.
If you're really struggling to get well, but your diet appears to be healthy, oxalates may be the missing link.
Full Transcript on Oxalates and Thyroid Health
Dr. Hedberg: Well, welcome everyone to "Functional Medicine Research." I'm Dr. Hedberg, and I'm really looking forward to my conversation today with Sally Norton. Sally is a consultant writer, educator, and speaker with over 30 years in the health promotion and wellness field. Sally specializes in helping people improve their health with an oxalate-avoiding diet. Sally holds a nutrition degree from Cornell University and a Master's of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked in the field of medical education at UNC Medical Schools Program on Integrative Medicine and as a research grant writer and research administrator at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Despite a healthy lifestyle, she struggled for over 30 years with seemingly unanswerable health challenges, including chronic pain and fatigue. When she finally discovered the cause and turned her health around, she committed to teaching and reaching out to others stuck in similar frustrating situations. Sally, welcome to the show.
Sally: Thank you. It's great to be here.
Dr. Hedberg: Yeah, I'm looking forward to this and we were kind of discussing this early on. Oxalates is something that I've always kept my eye on for the last 17 years and I was really looking forward to this conversation. So why don't we lay a little bit of bedrock for the listeners? And if you could just talk about what are oxalates, and do we know why plants actually have oxalates?
Sally: Yes. Plants are a major producer of oxalate and obviously, it's also ubiquitous in nature itself. Soil is loaded with it. Even apparently sea spray produces some oxalate and polluted air produces oxalates, so, in really heavily polluted cities, the air has got oxalate in it too. So oxalate is this really minuscule molecule that its parent compound is called oxalic acid. And acids ionize and become charged particles because they drop off the acidic protein and so they become these negatively charged ions that attract positively charged things and oxalates can have a one negative or two negative. It is a tiny, tiny little compound. It has four oxygens, which is a heavy load of oxygen on just two little carbon molecules. So it's very oxygen-heavy, which is probably partly why it's such a pro-oxidant molecule, you know. Oxidation is very bad for tissues, membranes, mitochondria, and it is a great mitochondrial poison, membrane destroyer, and troublemaker. And it's not just the oxygen, though. It's much more about this reactivity that the charge creates where it bonds with minerals and becomes salts. And so, salt is a chemical term for things that can dissolve, but when it...because it can have two negative charges, it will also hook up with minerals that won't dissolve well. So calcium, for example, is a two positive charge mineral. With that double-positive and double-negative marriage between the two, you create an insoluble oxalate, which is the backbone of oxalate you see in nature because calcium is everywhere in soils and in nature, and plants are having to manage their calcium. And one of the ways they do that...because too much calcium can be toxic to the plant. So one of the ways they do that is they make oxalic acid. Often they make vitamin C first, very similar compounds, and vitamin C naturally degrades just hanging around into oxalic acid and oxalates.
So plants will create vitamin C and they'll cre...