Do You Have A Nightshade Intolerance And What Is It?

As we traverse what can sometimes be a quite confusing terrain, food and diet offer so many variables. We hear about vegan, paleo, macrobiotic, vegetarian and there are more and even more variations upon the alternatives. Some might consider themselves vegan, but they might eat honey. And a staunch vegan would say that you were not vegan because of this. Everyone is different that's certain. So whatever your dietary choices might be, there're many roads to go down. Our advice is to listen to your body. You have to try different things and see what works for you. There's a lot of controversy in some arena's, and I think it's pretty evident that our relationship to food could use an upgrade. However, for this week's Tuesday Tip, let us dive into the nightshades. 

Nightshades sound like something from a zombie series. And some of these plants might make some people feel like there's a zombie inside of them. Many of these delicious plants can wreak havoc upon some people's digestion or even immunity. Here's a guide to nightshades and a survival guide that will hopefully help you if this happens to be something you have an issue with. 

What are Nightshades?

You may have heard of the term “deadly nightshade” referring to a plant called belladonna, which was used as a poison in ancient times. Lesser known are the commonly eaten vegetables in the same nightshade family. They aren’t deadly, but they contain enough toxins to cause inflammation in some people, particularly those with autoimmune disease. Often, we don’t realize just how much, until we stop eating them:

  • Tomatoes
  • Tomatillos
  • Potatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Peppers (bell peppers, banana peppers, chili peppers, etc.)
  • Red pepper seasonings (paprika, chili powder, cayenne, curry, etc.)
  • Pimentos
  • Pepinos
  • Tamarillos
  • Goji berries
  • Ground cherries (similar to tomatoes, they have no relationship to fruit cherries)
  • Ashwagandha (an ayurvedic herb)
  • Tobacco
  • Read labels: terms like “spices” and “natural flavors” often contain the above seasonings, and “starch” often comes from potatoes.

Similar sounding foods that are not nightshades:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peppercorns (black, white and pink)
Nightshade replacements

Nightshade replacements

Beware of longer lists on the internet! Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true, and many websites list foods that aren’t nightshades at all, such as blueberries, cauliflower, artichokes, okra, apples, etc. The problem is adding foods to lists based on internet rumor rather than scientific validation. Thankfully, Sarah Ballantyne did some exhaustive research in this area and busted these rumors as myths. So, don’t make your life harder by avoiding more foods than necessary. If you ever wonder if a food is a nightshade, simply look up its scientific family. Only members of the Solanaceae family are nightshades. 

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