Friday, June 24, 2016

The Low Oxalate Diet

When I was first diagnosed post-surgery in 2008, the first thing my surgeon suggested was going on a low oxalate diet.  This is also frequently recommended to patients who have a history of kidney stones. 

Finding a reliable source that had definitive information about the amount of oxalate in foods proved to be more difficult that I expected.  Thankfully, I found "TheLow Oxalate Cookbook, Book Two" by the VP Foundation.  This book contains reliable information on oxalate from years of scientific testing.  Please note that this is not an IC-friendly cookbook – just a low oxalate cookbook and I am not recommending trying any of the recipes contained in this book because of that. 

Oxalate is found in foods from plant sources and has been known to contribute to a number of genital, urinary, skin, rectal, muscle, bowel, and general body pain and irritation.  Specifically for those with IC, it can exacerbate urinary urgency, frequency, inner-bladder and urethral burning and pain, and vulvodynia.  From what I have found speaking to others with IC over the years (and from personal experience), a low oxalate diet is most effective at improving/curing vulvodynia. 

The Low Oxalate Cookbook, Book Two, recommends that one should try to limit consumption of oxalate from foods and beverages to ~40-60 mg/day.  Participants in the pain study they conducted reported that over time, they were able to gradually increase the amount of oxalate in their diet without pain.  I have found this to be true.  I stayed on a strictly low oxalate diet for approximately 1.5 years and then gradually increased the amount of oxalate in my daily diet over about a year. *
*During this time I was taking Elmiron 100 mg three times a day and also doing frequent Uracyst and lidocaine 1% bladder instillations, which both improve IC.

Although there are many similarities in an IC-friendly diet, so much varies from person to person, so I will provide a selective list of low, medium and high oxalate foods based on what I can eat (which will be highlighted) and some foods that other ICers I have talked to or read about have found okay.  Before going on a low oxalate diet, however, I implore you to do the Elimination Diet first.  It might be smart to test only the low oxalate foods at first.  I have done theElimination Diet about 4 times and have re-tested foods over the years – in some cases, I have been able to add foods into my diet that I found I couldn't eat when I tested them previously (obviously the medication I'm taking and the treatment I'm doing is helping).

When looking over the list – especially the highlighted foods that I can eat – please keep in mind that I take Prelief with everything I eat (the amount I take depends on the food) and I also take Lactaid Ultra when I have anything containing lactose. 

Everything highlighted with a * beside it means that I can only eat it if it's organic.  I'd say about 95% of my food has to be organic or it will cause inner bladder pain and I highly recommend switching to organic if you can.  It makes a huge difference – trust me, you will feel it.

Low Oxalate
Medium Oxalate
High Oxalate
(1 cup)
Chamomile tea*
Peppermint tea*

Fats & Oils
(1 tablespoon)
Canola oil*
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

Honeydew melon*
Yellow plums
Mango (I can have either frozen or dried organic – never fresh)
Grapes (red and seedless green)
Strawberries (fresh)


Grains and Grain Products
Barley* (cooked)
Cornstarch (1 tbsp)
Corn tortilla
Malt powder
Oat bran (1 tbsp)
Pasta* (one ingredient: organic durum wheat semolina)
Long grain rice
White rice
Wild rice
Rye bread
Plain bagel
English muffin
White flour tortilla*
Whole wheat bread (1 slice)
Oatmeal (rolled oats)
Tortilla chips
Corn grits
Brown rice flour (1/4 cup)
Unbleached white flour * (1/4 cup)
Brown rice*
Wheat germ* (1 tbsp)
Blueberry bagel
Whole wheat tortilla
Bran flakes
Popcorn* (4 cups)
Barley flour (1/4 cup)
Rye flour (1/4 cup)
Whole wheat flour
Wheat germ* (1/3 cup)

Herbs, Spices and Condiments
Almond extract (1 tbsp)
Fresh basil (1 tbsp)
Fresh chives (1 tbsp)
Dill* (1 tsp – fresh)
Mustard (1 tbsp)
Peppermint leaves
Rosemary leaves (1 tsp)
Dried ground sage (1 tsp)
Dried thyme (1 tsp)
Vanilla extract (1 tbsp)
Dill* (1 tablespoon – fresh)
Ground oregano (1 teaspoon)
Rosemary leaves (1 tablespoon)
Dried ground sage (1 tablespoon)
Dried thyme (1 tablespoon)
Anise (1 teaspoon)
Ground oregano (1 tablespoon)
Parsley flakes (1 tablespoon)
Tahini (1 teaspoon)
Legumes, Nuts & Seeds
Coconut (fresh)
Black-eyed peas
Yellow split peas Green peas*
Mustard (1 tbsp)
Red kidney beans
Lima beans
Green split peas*

Black beans
Pinto beans
Peanut butter
Sesame seeds (1 tsp)
Meats & Fish
Ground beef
Roasted chicken* (meat only)

Milk & Milk Products
Cream cheese* (1 oz - organic)
Skim milk (lactose-free)
Low-fat milk
Whole milk
Goat's milk

Vanilla rice milk (1 cup)
Carob rice milk (1 cup)

Other Foods
Baking powder*
Baking soda
Cream of tartar
Gelatin (unflavoured)
Corn syrup
Clover honey
Maple syrup
Brown sugar (1 tbsp)
White sugar (1 tbsp)
Carob chips
Carob powder*
Stevia powder
Green beans
Bok choy
Broccoli (boiled)
Iceberg lettuce*
Romaine lettuce*
Red pepper*
Alfalfa sprouts*
Acorn squash
Artichoke (1 medium)
Broccoli (raw or steamed)
Green pepper

Canned olives
Green beans
Potatoes* (I can only eat organic red potatoes)
Potato chips*
Sweet potato*

I hope this information will help you if you have decided to try going on a low oxalate diet, especially if you suffer from vulvodynia.  Please remember once again that this is not an "IC-friendly diet list" and that the exhaustive list can be found in the book.

If you do decide to try to go on a low oxalate diet to improve some of your symptoms, please let us know how it goes!  Good luck! J


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  2. Hello, I was wondering where you got the Uracyst and lidocaine 1% bladder instillation treatments. I'm asking on behalf of my mom, who's been suffering in pain with Internal Cystitis. I've been researching on the internet and Uracyst sounds like it might help her. Just this week she went to her Urologist with the info and he said he's never heard of it. She lives in Ontario. How can she go about getting the treatment with Uracyst or could you tell me where you went to get the instillation treatments?

    1. Hi Tario,

      I'm really surprised that her urologist hasn't heard of it. It's been around for at least 5 years. Though some urologists favour DMSO because it's free and Uracyst isn't. You can get Uracyst 20 mg through a prescription - it comes in boxes of 4 bottles but you can request one bottle at a time. The lidocaine 1% comes separately. Xylocaine 1% is legally non-prescription in Canada but not everyone is aware of that (including pharmacists) and it generally needs to be ordered through a pharmacy. However, I have also gotten smaller quantities through prescription (though it isn't necessary). If her urologist has his office in a hospital, he could likely give you a bottle of it to try. When I first started getting them, my gynaecologist who was also trained in urology is the one who did the instillations for me. I'm fairly certain your mom's urologist could administer them for her. You start off with one instillation per week for 6 weeks and then spread them out after that. I have heard that some hospitals have nurses that do bladder instillations but I have never encountered one. After a couple of years of having the instillations, to become more independent with my treatment, my surgeon trained me to do them myself and now that's what I always do and I do them approximately once a month. For this I need a catheter tray, a special extremely large syringe, a special tiny catheter and a bottle of each medication. Do not start off this way - trust me. You need to know what you're doing or you could give yourself an infection. I hope this information helps and if you or your mom has any further questions, please let me know! Thank you! :)


I promise that my comment is not prejudice, rude, or discouraging.