By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci
We all know that vegetables are the best foods you can eat for optimal health — but what about the nightshade vegetables? The first time I heard the word “nightshades” mentioned in a nutrition class, I had no idea what they were — I pictured someone wearing sunglasses in the dark! Turns out, nightshades are a classification of vegetables that includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers of all kinds (except black pepper).
Aren’t these vegetables healthy? For many people, yes, but there are certain properties of nightshades that warrant them being removed when you’re doing an elimination diet (like the Be Well Cleanse). The nightshade veggies contain alkaloids, which act as natural pesticides, and can cause adverse reactions in some people when consumed as food. Some people are more sensitive to nightshades than others – particularly people who are experiencing arthritis, joint pain, GERD or other digestive issues. According to Dr. Norman Childers of the The Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation, alkaloids can disturb calcium metabolism in the body, causing aches and pains in the joints. Removing nightshade vegetables from the diet has been known to greatly reduce inflammation and joint pain, as well as some symptoms of digestive discomfort and GERD.
If you’re interested to see if you’re sensitive to nightshades, try removing them for 2 weeks and see if your symptoms clear up. In the book The Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones, Dr. Annemarie Colbin mentions that aches and pains due to nightshade consumption can reverse in as little as 10 days. She also suggests that because nightshades can affect calcium balance in the body, those at risk for osteoporosis should refrain from relying heavily on them (although the occasional nightshade veggie may not cause any problems).
If you don’t experience any adverse symptoms from nightshade vegetables, they should be fine to eat in moderation.
What are your thoughts on nightshades? Do you choose to avoid them for any reason? We’d love to hear!