Night Shades. What they are and do they effect us?
What Are Night Shades?
Nightshade is the name for the family of plants that includes tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers.
These plants belong to the same family, Solanaceae. Which includes toxic, inedible plants like tobacco and belladonna (deadly nightshade). Many herbs and spices are derived from nightshades, including cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, chili powder and paprika.
On the other hand, goji berries, which are considered therapeutic in traditional Chinese medicine, are also related.
The origin of the name “nightshade” is known to suggest the description of how these plants prefer to grow and flower in the night and shade. Nightshade, also known as deadly nightshade, is a perennial herb native to Europa and Asia.
Nightshades are unique because they contain small amounts of alkaloids. Alkaloids are chemicals that are mainly found in plants. Nightshade plants contain different types of alkaloid compounds, food factors that cause physiological changes in the body.
Are Night Shades Harmful?
Some foods, such as eggplant and tomato, contain histamines and related chemicals that can induce inflammation and symptoms of allergies in specific bodies. But so do many other foods, including hoisin sauce, cheeses, fish that isn’t fresh, soy sauce, spinach, red wine, sauerkraut, turnips, yeast, raspberry jam, plums, oranges, cured meats, and Worcestershire sauce.
While some people detoxify these chemicals just fine, others do not. The point is not to avoid all these foods but to identify those that don’t agree with you.
In addition, nightshade vegetables contain tiny amounts of toxic alkaloids, such as solanine in potatoes and tomatine in tomatoes. There’s no evidence of harmful consequences from alkaloids in nightshade vegetables, with one important exception: green potatoes. The green colour from chlorophyll may indicate that the potatoes have been exposed to light, which can also lead to high levels of colourless solanine. Solanine is an alkaloid found in plants of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), specifically tomatoes, eggplant, and most significantly, potatoes. The majority of solanine poisoning reported has arisen from the ingestion of greened potatoes.
Some alternative modalities such as Ayurveda, suggested a connection between nightshade vegetables and inflammation. Some Ayurvedic practitioners discourage the consumption of nightshade vegetables because they are said to promote arthritis, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. However, in Ayurveda, diets are tailored to the individual, and nightshade vegetables are not always excluded.
Do Nightshade Vegetables Cause Inflammation?
Inflammation, allergies, and other undesirable consequences from eating nightshades are possible but not universal.
Why is this?
People can be allergic to almost any food, including tomatoes and eggplant. Allergies that cause classic symptoms like rashes and trouble breathing are medically recognised. What’s less well understood is other kinds of food sensitivities and intolerances. Because we don’t understand them, they tend to be discounted.
The Arthritis Foundation says there is no scientific evidence that nightshades cause inflammation or exacerbate arthritis. But results of very preliminary research suggest that these vegetables could sometimes be inflammatory. Limited preclinical studies have reported that compounds in potatoes could contribute to intestinal inflammation, leaky gut, and damage to the colon.
Night shades can be a highly nutritious source of polyphenols, however the edible portions of these plants contain some alkaloids, too. Consequently, many people with autoimmune diseases eliminate nightshades from their diets, believing they contribute to their health problems. However, research has yet to show that nightshade vegetables contribute to autoimmune diseases. These individuals need a bio-individual approach and it could so be that certain groups of people may be better off eliminating nightshades. They claim that harmful substances found in these vegetables may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune conditions.
Nightshades are nutrient-dense foods that may provide a number of health benefits through their vitamin, mineral, fibre, and antioxidant content. Just like nuts, another common allergy trigger, it depends on the body that the food is consumed by. Each person is individual and unique so the night shade sensitivity is possible but not a one size fits all approach.
Categorised in: Nutrition
This post was written by Amelia Crossley