Food Focus: Nightshades

Who Should Avoid and Why

Ok let's start with something easy. What ARE the nightshade vegetables? The term 'nightshade' tells us these particular plants prefer to grow in shady areas, and some flower at night. A quick list to start.

1. Potatoes

2. Tomatoes

3. Peppers

4. Eggplant

5. Tomatillos

6. Goji Berries

7. Okra

8. Ashwagandha

Before you start screaming "whaaaaaaat?" like I originally did when I read about diets that avoid them, please know nightshades are fine for most to eat. We'll talk about the exceptions in a minute, but let's remember we are all different. One person's food is another person's poison. Some feel good when they eat nightshades cooked; others do better when they are raw.

Let's take a look at who should potentially stay away from this group of veggies and why. Nightshades are gaining a reputation for being problematic for certain health issues, such as inflammation and arthritis. This comes down to the presence of a nutrient found in nightshades, known as alkaloids, which contain nitrogen. In nature, the presence of alkaloids in nightshades serves as a natural insect repellent to prevent the plant from being destroyed. When the substance called solanine is consumed, it is assumed to also cause problems with a person’s digestive system, leading to inflammatory problems, intestinal disorders, and digestive upset. The very popular leaky gut worsens these issues.

Dr. Normal Childers has theorized that some people with osteoarthritis may not be able to destroy solanine in the gut. If it is not destroyed as intended, it could be toxic. Some have the ability to, based on metabolism and detoxification abilities (another important reason to cleanse) and others simply can't.

How can you tell? Take a look at the list below. If you get any of these after consuming them, cut them out for 30 days to see if problems subside, slowly introducing them back in one by one and checking again.

  • Irritable bowels

  • Diarrhea

  • Heartburn

  • Nerve problems

  • Joint pain

  • Arthritis

  • Swelling in the joints

  • Acid reflux

  • Heartburn

  • Itching

  • Leaky gut

  • Autoimmunity or chronic conditions

  • Trouble breathing (rare, but serious)

  • Mouth swelling (rare, but serious)​

Some may be able to reintroduce. Others, most liekly those with arthritis and autoimmune disorders, should probably avoid all together. I have posted an awesome alternative chart by Aimee McNew in the forum under Nutrition. Some that follow the AIP (Anti Inflammatory Protocol) for illness chose to avoid them, but please know there are other options.

Listen to what your gut tells you when you eat these, or any other food or beverage. After all, our gut is literally our second brain! It's the key to most of our health issues. We need to pay attention. Message me if you need tips on how to start paying attention to your gut feelings.

Sources and Additional Reading:

150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Bowden, Jonny. 2007.

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I help busy mamas go from burnout to mental vigor using the gut brain axis.


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