Can nightshade vegetables cause allergies and inflammation?
(NaturalHealth365) Vegetables are a well-known source of nutrients containing vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants which are essential for optimal human health and vitality. But did you know that some of your favorite vegetables could trigger food allergies? Nightshade plants and vegetables have been linked to chronic inflammation in the body leading to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms and illnesses.
In fact, scientific research suggests that up to 90% of individuals who suffer from any form of pain or discomfort in the body are sensitive to nightshades – which can trigger an inflammatory response. Dr. Norman Childers at Rutgers University established the Arthritis Nightshade Research Foundation and is most known for his success in identifying health risk associated with the vegetables. Dr. Childers was able to completely reverse his symptoms of rheumatism, an arthritic condition, by following a strict nightshade avoidance diet.
Understanding the truth about nightshades
Nightshades belong to a family of plants known as Solanaceae, most of which we would consider weeds. Solanaceae contains a variety of naturally occurring drugs known as alkaloids which protect the plant from insects, predators and disease.
Popular nightshades that may be on your dinner table tonight include, tomato, potato, and all pepper varieties except peppercorns. Other nightshades include ashwagandha and eggplant. Although not considered nightshade vegetables, kiwifruit, goji berries, blueberries, artichokes and okra may also illicit the same inflammatory response when consumed.
Nightshade foods can cause chronic inflammation and allergies in the body
Human health concerns stem from a variety of sources linked to nightshades. As with many other food allergens, such as gluten sensitivity, individuals may be more or less allergic to different types of nightshades.
Such factors that determine sensitivity include the concentration and type of alkaloid present as well as the activity of a naturally occurring form of vitamin D. Although no scientific study has shown that the available compounds in nightshades create inflammation in the body, research proves that nightshades will increase the severity of symptoms.
Alkaloids can cause nervous system imbalances.
Alkaloids are referred to as pro-inflammatory markers. Examples of these naturally occurring substances might already be of familiarity to you such as:
- Solanine – Potato and eggplant
- Tomatine – Tomato
- Nicotine – Tobacco
- Capsaicin – Peppers
Just like tobacco, these alkaloids might be partially to blame for your addictive behaviors to some foods. Solanine has been studied to inhibit cholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, and acts like the less favored identical twin.
Acetycholine serves as the body’s messenger and is responsible for stimulating nerves, muscles and glands. Excessive acetylcholine results in over stimulation. Toxic levels of acetylcholine lead to nervous system problems including anxiety, depression, behavioral disturbances, lethargy, cognitive issues, muscle stiffness and insomnia.
Are you sensitive to nightshades?
Remember, different vegetables have different alkaloid content available and you may not have severe allergens to all. The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding the negative impacts that can come along with enjoying a fresh, sun kissed vine ripened tomato is to first heal your gut.
Try eliminating all nightshades for a week and then intentionally try one (such as a tomato) each day for 3 days and see if you notice more inflammation. Do this with each type of nightshade to see how you are reacting to each individual member of this family.
Overtime, as you work to reduce inflammation and heal your gut and adrenals, your body may become less sensitive. A healthy immune system can take on the stress of low doses of nightshade vegetable consumption and you will be able to enjoy some of the foods you love again without causing an inflammatory response in the body.
About the author: Dr. David Jockers runs one of the hottest natural health websites in DrJockers.com . He is the author of “SuperCharge Your Brain: The Complete Guide to Radically Improve Your Mood, Memory and Mindset.” He is also a sought after speaker around the country on such topics as weight loss, brain health, functional exercise, natural detoxification and disease prevention. He currently owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Georgia.
Huang, et al. Draft genome of the kiwifruit Actinidia chinensis. Nature Communications. 2013 Oct;2640. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3640