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Marginally Insufficient Thiamine Intake and Oxalates
 

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Marginally Insufficient Thiamine Intake and Oxalates


Marginally Insufficient Thiamine Intake and Oxalates

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Marginally Insufficient Thiamine Intake and Oxalates
by Chandler Marrs, PhD
January 11, 2023
19311 views
Over the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent how important thiamine is to overall health. Thiamine (thiamin) or vitamin B1, sits atop the mitochondria at multiple entry points involved in the metabolism of foods into cellular energy (ATP). It is also critical for several enzymatic reactions within the mitochondria. We have illustrated repeatedly how thiamine deficiency leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, which in turn leads to complex multi-organ system illnesses characterized by chronic inflammation, disturbed immune function, altered steroidogenesis. Each of these is related to deficient mitochondrial energetics. When serious or chronic, thiamine deficiency leads to erratic autonomic function, now called dysautonomia, and a set of disease processes called beriberi.

Long before those symptoms emerge and absent severe deficiency, marginal thiamine status evokes subtle changes in metabolic function. Among these changes, enzymes that would normally metabolize certain foods fully and into useful substrates for other functions are downregulated, shifting the metabolic pathway towards more toxic end-products. The chemistry is complicated and we will go over it in a moment, but first I would like to propose a framework for understanding metabolism. For me, it is useful to imagine metabolism visually as giant maze of right and left turns; where wrong turns lead to dead ends and dead ends lead to the build up of endogenous toxins. Among the primary variables determining the route metabolism takes is enzyme nutrition.

Enzymes require nutrient cofactors to perform their metabolic tasks. When the appropriate nutrient co-factors are present in sufficient concentrations for the enzymes to operate fully, the food we eat is successfully metabolized into end-products that are useful for all manner of processes and cellular energy is produced. Even in the case of genetic aberrations that limit enzyme function endogenously, there is evidence that nutrient manipulation can overcome inadequate enzyme activity. When nutrient co-factors are in short-supply, however, resources are reallocated. Metabolism shifts directions, it takes a right turn when it should move left or vice versa. Different enzymes are activated and metabolism eventually reaches a dead end but not before potentially toxic, unused waste products build up. As these toxins build up, other systems become disrupted, inflammatory and immune responses are activated, demanding ever more energy to resolve. It is this energy spiral, I believe, that induces and maintains many of the illnesses we see today. This means that observing how one reacts to certain foods may point us to correctable nutrient deficiencies.
The Rise in Food Sensitivities

In recent years, I have become fascinated by the growing preponderance of food sensitivities and intolerances. It seems everyone has a problem with something. Given the current practices used in industrial food production, I suppose it is no wonder. We use a staggering number of chemicals to grow and process foods; chemicals that reduce the nutrient content of supposedly healthy foods, but also, present as toxicants that must be dealt with metabolically when ingested. The double hit of low nutrients/high toxicants is disastrous for metabolism. Throw in the generally high calorie content of the western diet and one has to wonder how our mitochondria function at all. And yet they do. Well, sort of. If we donít count the exponential growth in chronic and seemingly intractable illnesses, but I digress. I believe that food, or lack of quality food, is top among the core contributors to modern illness and food sensitivities are among the key early warning signs of poor metabolism and by definition, faltering mitochondria.
Oxalate Problems

One of the more intriguing and troubling food intolerances that has become increasingly common is to the high oxalate foods. Oxalates are natural substances found in many healthy foods, especially dark leafy greens like spinach, that bind calcium and other minerals, and when left unmetabolized, can form crystals leading to kidney stones. Approximately 10% of men and 7% of women experience at least one episode of kidney stones across the lifetime. Beyond the kidney stone, oxalate intolerance is linked to wide range of chronic health conditions largely due to the build up oxalic acid which may or may not bind calcium, but causes problems nevertheless. Poor oxalate metabolism disrupts gut health, shifting the microbiome unfavorably causing dysbiosis, damages the mitochondria and induces system wide oxidative stress, inflammation and immune reactivity. Problems with oxalate metabolism have been found in individuals with autism, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia to name but a few. A common and usually somewhat successful remedy is to avoid the consumption of high oxalate foods. Below are some of the more common high oxalates.
 

 
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