What are nightshades?
Nightshade fruits and vegetables belong to the scientific family of plants called Solanaceae. This family includes more than 2500 species, some of which are edible and some of which are not.
All plants that are members to this family have some similar characteristics like the shape of the flower and how seeds are arranged within the fruit or the vegetable.
Here’s a list of edible nightshades:
- Eggplant (aubergine)
- Goji berries
- Tomatoes (all varieties, including tomatillos)
- Peppers (all varieties such as bell pepper, wax pepper, green & red peppers, chili peppers, cayenne, paprika, etc)
- Potatoes (all varieties, NOT sweet potatoes or yams)
- Garden Huckleberry & Blueberries (contain the alkaloids that induce inflammation)
- Tomarillos (a plum-like fruit from Peru)
Many people have said that they are sensitive to nightshades and are unable to fully digest them. They have reported symptoms like: gas, diarrhea, painful joints, bloating or headache.
If you notice any of these symptoms after eating any of the mentioned fruits and vegetables, then you should exclude them from your diet. A research has associated them with joint pain, arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. They are also often blamed for inflammation, pain and autoimmunity issues.
Why are nightshades associated with these problems?
These fruits and vegetables are often associated with these problems because of some of the substances they consist of:
Nightshades consist of substances called alkaloids which can cause stress and inflammation in your body. One type of alkaloid found in them is alpha Solanine- a glycol-alkaloid. Solanine serves the plant by acting as a natural pesticide. Solanine has the ability to block cholintesterase, which is an important enzyme in nerve cells. This ability of the solanine to block cholintesterase often results in joint stiffness and joint pain.
Calcitrol is another harmful substance found in nightshades. Excess from this hormone causes too much calcium in the blood and that results in calcium deposits in soft tissues like tendons and ligaments.
Nightshades are also rich in lectins. Lectins are substances produced in all plants as natural pesticide. Lectins are also called “sticky” molecules since they tend to attach to the walls of the intestine, causing leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when things like undigested carbohydrates or lectins make little gaps between the cells of the small intestine, allowing undigested food particles to escape in the blood stream.
Common problems associated with nightshades consumption.
Nightshades and autoimmune disorders
According to Dr. Norman Childers’ questionnaire study, done on people who were suffering from arthritis over 20 year period, nightshades were an important factor which was contributing to arthritis sufferers. He found out that over 70% of the patients who had removed these fruits and vegetables from their diet for some period of time, noticed some relieve in their condition.
Nightshades and osteoporosis
In his studies, Dr. Norman Childers also says that in patients who have over-eaten nightshades was noticed that calcium has been removed from their bones and there was decrease of energy (mitochondria) too. This draining of calcium from the bones can predispose to osteoporosis. The doctor also noticed that with patients who suffered from osteoporosis he could never reverse the condition just with calcium and vitamin D supplementation but he would also ask patients to remove nightshades from their diet.
Nightshades and atherosclerosis
Once the calcium is removed from one’s bones it doesn’t just fade away but instead it goes in one’s arteries causing atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Nightshades and arthritis
As we already mentioned, nightshades contain alkaloids which remove calcium from the bones and deposit it in soft tissue. These fruits and vegetables contain pro-inflammatory substances which provoke inflammatory reactions in the body. People who suffer from arthritis are advised to stay away from these fruits and vegetables so they could notice some improvement in their condition.
Nightshades and digestive issues
As we said, nightshades contain lectins. When lectins go through the digestive tract they stick to the sides causing the condition leaky gut. Leaky gut is a condition which occurs due to development of gaps between the cells. These gaps allow substances like bacteria, undigested food and metabolic waste to escape in your bloodstream causing inflammation and digestive problems.
This condition can also confuse your immune system and it can begin attacking your own body as if it were an enemy.
How to consume nightshades?
If you don’t suffer from any of the early mentioned diseases but you think that you have slight sensitivity to nightshades try reducing the amount that you consume. Moreover, you should be sure that you are preparing the food properly in order to reduce the levels of chemicals they contain.
- Use only ripe nightshades because unripe are higher in alkaloids.
- Always peel all potatoes (don’t consume the skin, alkaloids may be found in it).
- Cook the nightshades in order to reduce alkaloid content in them.
When you are buying your potatoes, make sure to choose from the bulk display so you could carefully choose each one. Don’t choose those with green and sprouted portions because they contain significantly high level of alkaloid concentrations.
Furthermore, when you are preparing them, once you’ve peeled the potatoes wash them thoroughly under running water to make sure that you’ve taken out all green portions.
How to make sure whether you should avoid nightshades?
If you want to find out whether nightshades have negative effect on you or they don’t, you should try out the three-month challenge. During this period of three months you should try and avoid all nightshades. Read every food label in order to make sure they don’t contain them.
Here are some products and ingredients you need to avoid:
- Edible flowers: Petunia, chalice vine, day jasmine, angel and devil’s trumpets
- Many baking powders contain potato starch
- Vodka (potatoes used in production)
- Homeopathic remedies containing Belladonna (known as deadly nightshade)
- Atropine and Scopolamine, used in sleeping pills
- Don’t lick envelopes, many adhesives contain potato starch
- Topical medications for pain and inflammation containing capsicum (in cayenne pepper)
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications containing potato starch as a filler (especially prevalent in sleeping and muscle relaxing medications).
After three months, gradually begin to re-introduce one nightshade at a time. Note down any pain, ache, loss of energy, stiffness, respiratory problems or any other symptoms. This way you’ll find out which nightshades worsen your overall health so you could remove them from your diet.
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