October 15, 2016

Are Nightshade Vegetables and Spices Bad For You?

I have gotten this question quite alot lately. Friends and patients ask “What’s this I hear about inflammation and tomatoes being bad for you? I shouldn’t even eat tomatoes? Is nothing safe to eat anymore!?”  Hold up, I hear you. Here is the answer in short:

The nightshade vegetable family includes sweet and hot peppers, all potatoes except sweet potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and certain spices like paprika. These veggies and spices contain certain compounds called alkaloids, which can be irritating to those with autoimmune conditions (like these) and/or joint pain. 

So, if you suffer from either of these conditions, I would recommend that you try cutting nightshades out of your diet for 30 days and see how you feel. Here is a complete list of nightshades. Be careful to check ingredients for “natural flavor” or “seasoning” because it’s likely they used paprika or some pepper of sorts. Black pepper, however is not a nightshade.

If you are struggling with what to eat and how to make this change, and also have an autoimmune disease, I highly suggest reading this article by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. She talks about other dietary (and lifestyle) changes that can be very helpful in reducing symptoms and inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases. This also translates to a reduced risk of developing yet another autoimmune condition (25% of those with one autoimmune disease are likely to develop other autoimmune disease).

According to Dr. Gerald Mullin from Johns Hopkins, statistically somebody with an autoimmune disease is at risk of a total of 7 autoimmune diseases in his or her lifetime. This is obviously not something you want to mess with, and if you can change lifestyle and dietary factors that can help reduce your risk, why wouldn’t you!?


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