Why Not Nightshades?

Nightshade vegetables

Say what? What is a Nightshade anyway?

Well, it’s a group of plants and seeds that cause pain and inflammation for the majority of people who have autoimmune diseases.

Nightshade fruits and vegetables belong to the family of Solanaceae plants of the Solanum genus. This group of plants contains more than 2,500 species that are widely used as food and medicine, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Some people have a sensitivity to nightshade plants and are unable to digest them fully. If you have a sensitivity, you may experience diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, painful joints, headaches and depression from consuming nightshades.

What are they?

The list isn’t very long, but it’s of foods/spices that you have probably become accustomed to eating on a regular basis. Being on the AIP protocol eliminates these because of what they can do to your body. The following list comes from Eileen Laird of Phoenix Helix  with her Nightshade Survival Guide and includes these Do Not Eat foods:

  • 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)

When I first went on my elimination diet, tomatoes had been removed from my list of things I could eat (of course, I only had about 25 things I was able to eat while on that diet). Well, once I had started the reintroduce phase, I tried gluten-free pasta with tomato sauce. Boy, did that ever send me on a tailspin – it was a complete shock to my system when the tomatoes actually caused me serious indigestion which took a while to relieve. At the time I had no idea of any of whay I was doing or why as the doctor didn’t exactly explain anything. Lesson learned about tomatoes, but again at that time I didn’t know anything about nightshades either.

Once I had read a few books about what was causing my issues, nightshades came up on my radar. Of course, since then I avoid them like the plague! It really doesn’t seem fair that some people can eat just about whatever they want, but others have to restrict their diets so seriously! But I guess that’s the way our bodies work. It is part of what makes us all so unique.

Dr. Sarah Ballantyne identifies nightshades with a more in depth scientific explanation on her web site. Here is the link to her site with this information.

In this post by Dr. Amy Myers, she suggests that you eliminate nightshades from your diet while you are working on healing. They contribute to leaky gut (intestinal permeability), pain and inflammation which you are trying to avoid.

Dr. Melissa McNamara of the Arthritis and Rheumatology Center in San Ramon, California, is a Rheumatologist and Functional Medicine practitioner who says that if you have health issues, even if you don’t go the AIP Paleo route, you should probably do an elimination of all nightshades for a few weeks, then carefully reintroduce one at a time to see if there is any change in your condition. You never know what could happen if/when you do!

Unfortunately, since I have eliminated these foods, I have not been able to reintroduce them, as they cause painful flare-ups and allergic reactions. I’ve just been on this protocol since Sept. 2015, so perhaps at some time in the future I may be able to reintroduce one or some of these foods back into my diet. Time will tell!




Author: Louise Gagne

I'm a retired senior who has found out that my diet was causing a number of health issues. Since becoming aware of this, I have decided to create this blog to help others in similar circumstances,

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