"Eliminate nightshades! It eliminated all my problems!" If you've ever posted on an autoimmune online group, it's very likely someone has commented or posted this. While that may be true for some people with autoimmune diseases, just like everything you read on the internet - it may not apply to everyone.
First things first, What are nightshades?
Nightshades are a type of plant from the family Solanaceae. The nightshade family includes many edible and many poisonous plants, including the "deadly nightshade" aka "belladonna" which is often mentioned as a poison in many books/movies.
Here’s a very comprehensive list of nightshades we commonly eat, I put in bold the examples that may be most familiar:
Bell peppers (or sweet peppers) - any color - red, yellow, orange, green (all the same, the color is just a reflection of the ripeness)
Cape gooseberry (or ground cherries, these are NOT the same as regular cherries)
Garden huckleberry (these are NOT the same as regular huckleberries)
Goji berries (or wolfberry)
Hot peppers (like chili peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, chili-based spices, red pepper, cayenne)
Pepinos (or melon pear)
Potatoes (there are hundreds of potato varieties that are in the nightshade family and you are probably most familiar with a white potato) - NOT sweet potato or purple potato - these are from a different family
Tobacco! obviously not edible but still really toxic for us in the form of cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, etc. - also smoking can reduce the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine
Can you find the nightshades in the picture below?
Be careful with spice mixes as many spice mixes often include paprika, chili powder, and cayenne.
These are NOT nightshades but some lists on the internet include them as nightshades:
Peppercorns (black, white, green, red, pink)
These are actually the berry from a flowering plant. But eliminated in AIP as something included in the seed/berry based spices
What's the problem with nightshades?
Three components of nightshades that can be problematic:
1. Lectins - almost like a pesticide to prevent insects from eating the plant
2. Saponins - a specific type of glycoalkaloid that works in a similar fashion but may negatively affect our immune system
3. Capsaicin - can be an irritant for mucus membranes
These also may contribute to leaky gut.
While nightshades can contain helpful nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and Vitamin A, if you are experiencing any sort of intolerance - gas, bloating, fatigue, joint pain, or recurrence of any of your Lupus symptoms after consuming these foods - it may be something you are sensitive to right now. Maybe not forever! Our tolerance to certain foods can change depending on your level of inflammation.
There are also so many replacements you can utilize - sweet potatoes, "no-mato" sauces, pesto in place of tomato-based sauces, and more.
If this feels overwhelming, reach out to me to learn more about my 1:1 nutrition counseling packages and my group coaching program, "Live Better with Lupus".
If you're ready to make changes, reach out to schedule a FREE meet and greet call, don't wait to feel your best!