Why Cut Out Nightshade Vegetables?

Nightshade Vegetables
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!

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  • Hi,
    I agree with you.Those vegetables are very harmful

  • Nicole Benisch

    I have avoided nightshades for years because they aggravate my digestive issues – heartburn & indigestion. If I even eat a piece of food that has TOUCHED a pepper, I’m uncomfortable for the rest of the day :-( Potatoes I can handle in small doses but they do make me feel quite bloated if I over do it….

  • Beth

    I can’t even look at eggplants, and large bell peppers have never agreed with me…so I listen to my body and avoid them. I think that when you “go with your gut” you’re caring for your gut!

  • Patti

    I don’t get the digestive symptoms but I itch severely on my scalp and trunk with peppers and tomatoes. The joint pain I get with gluten and lactose. Since I gave up gluten and lactose, haven’t had my back pain or most of my other aches and pains.

  • Cynthia Olsen

    My mother had severe RA at an early age. No one in the family past or present has had RA. I remember my mom eating nightshade veggies. I eat nightshade veggies on occasion. Never a problem. Does taking zyflamend also help?

  • Joseph Maxwell

    I can eat anything- poop out of your septic tank, old garbage from a dumpster, no problem…body eventually gets used to anything. Start in small dosages and work your way towards an entire turd…can be done safely with or without further need for nightshades.

  • Pamela

    I learned about nightshades researching other health issues. When I developed arthritis so bad it hurt to walk and type, I quit nightshades and two weeks later 80% pain gone, 3 months later 99% gone, more time 100% gone, most of the time, because nightshades are EVERYWHERE! and they sneak in sometimes on accident.

    Okay okay sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose with a few french fries (not too bad if it had been a super long time without nightshades), but I had to stop that all together because it was building up and when the true accidents happened it hurt much more and much longer, so now it is always on accident again! But who knows I’ll probably break down in a few years and have french fries again! Oh no! I’m so naughty! LOL!