Notorious Nightshades

If you’re like me you love your tomatoes and peppers.

Heck! I really love hot sauce – those hot peppers get my motor running!

Even though the Solanaceae family of plants, to which nightshades belong, contains thousands of species, a few have become heart-warming staples in our diet around the world, but can they cause sensitivities?

Some common nightshades:

Bell Peppers
Chili peppers
Goji Berries

These foods can cause some serious problems for certain people. Are you one of them?

Some commonly suspected symptoms of nightshade sensitivity include joint pain/arthritis and acid reflux, though any real sensitivity could cause any and all of the typical sensitivity symptoms.

Mother Nature gave these plants – and many others – special shields called anti-nutrients so they could survive harsh environmental conditions and insects in order to have the opportunity to germinate again in the future. This feature is common to a majority of plants that we eat.



Anti-Nutrients – say what?

The anti-nutrient in nightshades that we have the most information on is called an alkaloid. That said, alkaloids are also commonly found in many other foods such as coffee, tea, chocolate.

Even though nightshades contain anti-nutrients, doesn’t mean they don’t also contain vital nutrients that we can use, like Vitamin C and lycopene. As with everything, how food is prepared and how much we eat matters. Anti-nutrients make the raw fruit or vegetable in question difficult for us to digest and in the process of trying, we can damage our intestinal lining, leading to leaky gut.

Once we have leaky gut (also known as intestinal hyperpermeability) food sensitivities may develop and other autoimmune diseases may develop in a predisposed person.

Another common trait of nightshades is calcium deposition. Another phytochemical in this family has been found to create a state of excess blood calcium which leads to the body needing to deposit it in inappropriate places such as the joints, kidneys or arteries. This can lead to arthritis, kidney stones or atherosclerosis.

Key tips:

  1. If you already have autoimmune disease or sensitivities, consider avoiding nightshades. Everyone else would do well to limit their consumption to reduce the amount of alkaloids consumed daily.
  2. Do an Elimination Diet to figure out if nightshades could be one of the reasons you are having random symptoms like aching joints, chronic pain, stiffness, headaches, respiratory issues, acid reflux or loss of energy.
  3. Slowly and thoroughly cook nightshades and soak other anti-nutrient containing foods, like nuts and beans, to allow for easier digestion.

If you want more guidance on reading food labels in order to make choices that support your health & well-being, check out my course,
Demystifying The Supermarket.