Common food intolerances and sensitivities include gluten, dairy, nuts, wheat, fish, and shellfish. But there is a group of food that can trigger joint pain, gas, bloating, stomach cramping, and other digestive problems that you may not be aware of.
Nightshade foods—also known as Solanaceae—include peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and paprika. These foods are high in nutrients and are a good part of a balanced, nutritious diet. But for some, consuming these foods can lead to nasty side effects.
Because nightshade foods are typically considered healthy, many of us don’t point to them as the culprit of our digestive distress. But if you have a food sensitivity to this group of foods, then they could be the real cause of your digestive problems.
Nightshade foods have been linked to inflammation, arthritis, and diabetes. This is because these foods contain alkaloids, which have nitrogen in them. Alkaloids work as a natural pest repellant so that insects don’t consume the food while they grow in nature. Unfortunately, what protects the plant can be harsh on our digestive systems.
Some studies have linked the consumption of nightshades to leaky gut syndrome, worsening of arthritic conditions, and allergic reactions like itching, swelling, and hives.
Signs you have a sensitivity to nightshade foods
How can you tell if you have a food sensitivity to nightshades? If you experience the following symptoms following the consumption of nightshade foods, then it may signal a sensitivity. Those symptoms include:
- Irritable bowels
- Nerve problems
- Joint pain
- Swollen joints
- Acid reflux
- Leaky gut
- Autoimmunity or chronic conditions
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling mouth (rare, but very serious)
If you are unsure if nightshade foods are triggering these symptoms, it is recommended that you first eliminate them altogether for at least 30 days before slowly integrating them back into your diet. This way, you can monitor your consumption and document your reaction. If symptoms reappear after integrating these foods back into your diet, that’s an indication that you’re sensitive to them.
The severity of the symptoms you experience along with other health conditions you may already have will help determine how long you need to avoid nightshades for or how much of them you can consume. If you can tolerate a small amount or eat them when cooked a certain way, feel free to enjoy them on occasion. But keep your consumption sparse and on the lower end to prevent serious symptoms.