Let’s talk Nightshades. This controversial group of plants belong to the Solanaceae family. This family of plants contain an alkaloid called Solanine. Solanine is produced in response to a stress factor. For example, when a bug begins to eat the nightshade, the plant releases Solanine as it is toxic to insects. It’s a natural defense of the plant when bugs eat it. To humans, it’s not toxic* BUT some people are intolerant to Solanine and experience negative symptoms when ingested.
It is thought Solanine may also increase inflammation in the body and so, anyone experiencing arthritis may benefit from reducing these foods in their diet. Most people tolerate Solanine just fine but for some, it can worsen inflammation and inflammation can worsen disease progression.
So now you’re wondering what foods belong to this family of plants and whether or not you might be sensitive to Solanine. Well, white potatoes, eggplant, several varieties of peppers as well as tomatoes belong to the nightshade family. If you do experience sensitivity you might have gas, diarrhea, bloating and heartburn after consuming these foods.
Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel after meals especially if you have a lot of nightshades in your diet. If you are experiencing these symptoms speak with your Naturopath or Functional Medicine Doctor about a Nightshade-free diet and how to re-introduce them after elimination.
I’m not writing this to tell you these foods are bad and you should not eat them, that’s simply not true. These foods are rich in vitamins and fibre and are beneficial to your diet. Only if you are one of the few that has troubles with these foods should you consider elimination.
I happen to be one of the few with a nightshade intolerance. My Naturopath put me on an elimination diet and these foods were removed from my diet for a few months. I slowly re-introduced them and began consuming them on a more regular basis. This was a few years ago. I have freely been consuming nightshades for the past year and I am noticing now, the aforementioned symptoms creep back in; especially with raw tomatoes and white potatoes. This is why I encourage you to take a few minutes to check in with yourself after meals. See how you are feeling right after and again, an hour later. There is only one you. Keep yourself living vibrantly.
*There are nightshade plants that can be toxic to humans as the Solanaceae family is a large family of plants. A perfect example is belladonna which is also known as “Deadly Nightshade”. Belladonna has been used for centuries in medical practice to aid multiple conditions but if the fruit of the plant is consumed its toxic. In today’s society, Belladonna is used in homeopathic medicine under the care of a homeopathic doctor.