Eliminating Nightshade Vegetables May Improve Health
It’s hard to believe that eliminating any vegetable would be beneficial, but there is a botanical classification of plants called "nightshades" that may impact calcium metabolism, contribute to arthritis and/or joint pain and even have an adverse effect on overall health.
The nightshade family includes tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, chili peppers, and spices such as paprika and cayenne pepper (black pepper is not considered a nightshade). It also includes poisonous and/or addictive plants such as belladonna (deadly), mandrake and tobacco, which contain glycoalkaloids, substances that can be toxic and produce adverse effects that bring all plants within this category into question.
Although our society’s heavy consumption of these foods in the form of pizza, french fries, baked potatoes, fried eggplant, tomato sauce and overall seasoning of foods make it difficult to isolate the effects of not consuming nightshades over the long term, researchers have found that those with arthritis can experience vast improvements in their condition by eliminating these foods from the diet.
Some say that nightshades are responsible for calcium removal from the bones, which contributes to arthritis and other joint conditions. However, for those that consume a lot of dairy products, which contain more calcium then our bodies naturally need, nightshades may also neutralize the effects of excess calcium consumption. However for those who do not consume dairy products, avoiding nightshades all together may be the best approach to overall health.
Beyond the arthritis connection, it’s important to note that all nightshade foods contain some degree of nicotine as is found in tobacco. For this reason, some even say that eliminating nightshade vegetables can assist with giving up smoking. There are also a number of cases in which people experience allergic reactions to nightshades when the body recognizes the protein from these foods as a harmful substance that it consequently attacks. Symptoms, which can occur within minutes of consumption, include nausea, migraines, asthma, indigestion, dizziness, inflammation, fatigue, etc.
The Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation, formed in the 1980’s to study the connection between nightshades, arthritis and other nutritional disorders, has found that eliminating nightshades can also alleviate conditions such as autoimmune disorders, digestive illnesses, skin problems, sleep disturbances, and even weight loss.
As is true of most health advise, the only way to know if nightshades are contributing to your health conditions is to experiment with removing them from the diet for a long enough period of time to notice changes. The recommended time with nightshades is at least one month, preferably three. In addition to physical health problems, you may also notice the relief of mental and psychological disturbances, which can make the experiment a worthwhile exploration for many.
-Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach by Annemarie Colbin
-The Arthritis and Nightshades Story published in Original Internist (2003) by Norman F. Childers, PhD
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.