Every once in awhile I will work with a client who actually feels worse eating healthy food verse better. Again not often, but for some, when they switch to a diet loaded with veggies they end up with major GI distress and they end up feeling like crap! This can be so frustrated. In most causes this problem is caused by a group of veggies called nightshades.
What the heck are nightshades?!
Lately I've been reading about nightshades and how some people may need to avoid them. In a nutshell, nightshades are classified as a group of fruits and vegetables that include bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, and eggplants. However, since various spices and spice mixes are made with chili peppers, nightshades are found in processed foods as well. Although nightshades are very healthy and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, some people may have problems eating them.
Should nightshades be avoided?
Nightshades contain glycoalkaloids, which act as a natural bug repellant, and can cause inflammation. In some cases this can aggravate or prolong autoimmune and digestive issues. It's important to note that nightshades don’t affect the majority of individuals. However, those who struggle with allergies, food sensitivities, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease (hashimoto’s, graves disease etc.), leaky gut syndrome, gluten intolerance, or rheumatoid arthritis, should be aware them. Consuming the glycoalkaloids in nightshades can cause an attack on a person’s weakened cell membrane. Ingestion could result in diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, nausea, or headaches. It may be best to avoid the foods that contain them altogether. If you don’t notice any of the above symptoms, I recommend incorporating nightshade fruits and vegetables in your diet. They provide plenty of delicious and healthy nutrients and antioxidants to improve your health! Just proceed with caution.
What do nightshade intolerance symptoms look like?
Everyone is different and your symptoms will vary. But typically, you can look for these symptoms…
Flares to any preexisting conditions
How to proceed with diet regarding nightshades
This process requires some trial and error. Since there are different levels of glycoalkaloids in nightshade fruits and vegetables, some individuals may be do fine with bell peppers, for example, but not tomatoes. It really requires some experimentation with your diet before you know which foods may be easily tolerated and which should be avoided. The best way to determine which nightshades are safe for you is to eliminate them completely from your diet for a brief period, and then gradually re-introduce them, one at a time.
Although eliminating some of these foods from your diet may be regrettable, there are other food alternatives!
Eliminate and Replace
• Potatoes use mashed cauliflower/sweet potatoes
• Eggplant use mushrooms
• Red pepper flakes use black and white pepper spices
• Tomatoes use grapes
• Orange slices
Can nightshades intolerance be healed?
It is possible for sure but it all depends on how your body heals, and your own bio-individuality. Many people do reintroduce nightshades, but it really varies from person to person. It may not be in the cards for everyone, but there certainly is hope! The key is following an elimination diet protocol and healing from the inside out! Once you are healed then slowly adding nightshades back one at a time and determining what works for you and what does not!
Take Home Message
Nightshades are not particularly dangerous and don’t need to be seen as "red flag" foods across the board. Most of these vegetables and fruits offer great health benefits, including vitamins and minerals, to the body. But if you have symptoms that may be related to a nightshade sensitivity, it may be best (and very helpful) to eliminate them from your diet so your body can recover from any pain or discomfort.