By Delia Quigley for Care2.com
“If nightshades can be eaten or used sparingly, arthritis can be slowed in developing.” The Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation
Summer gardens are bringing forth an abundance of nightshade foods destined for your dinner plate, your fresh tomato salad, or scattered across a slice of hot cheesy pizza with peppers. Nightshades or the Solanaceae family, cover some 2,800 species of plants, herbs, shrubs and trees, but the nightshade foods you most often consume include:
- Peppers (hot and sweet)
These nightshade foods are suspected of causing arthritic type symptoms in people already prone to the ailment, but you will probably still love them anyway. Although there is no solid evidence that the alkaloids in nightshade plants negatively affect joint and nerve-muscle function in humans and animals, there are individuals who experience symptomatic relief when nightshade foods are eliminated from their diet.
One type of alkaloid, found in eggplant and tomato, is nicotine, although in much less quantity than the tobacco leaf and considered safe for most people to eat. Another type are steroid alkaloids found in the potato, which research reveals has the ability to block activity of an enzyme in nerve cells causing nervous system disruptions and joint inflammation. Researchers continue to investigate the possibility that steroid alkaloids affect our ability of metabolize calcium by removing the calcium from the bones and depositing it in our soft tissue.
Some dietary health programs, such as Macrobiotics, eliminate the use of nightshade vegetables in their healing programs and cautions the consumption of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and potatoes even for healthy individuals. For those suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, gout or joint issues, flare-ups have been shown to occur in 1-2% of patients who consume a diet high in nightshade vegetables. Therefore, it is suggested by medical researchers, to eliminate this family of foods to help relieve symptoms.
If you are thinking of boiling the alkaloids out of your vegetables, cooking only lowers the amount by 40-50%, and for sensitive individuals this just won’t be enough. Instead, try eliminating them for six weeks to determine if they are having an impact on your health. Then, if you cannot live without them, add one vegetable at a time back into your diet, over the course of a week or two, while keeping a journal as to what you experience. This is a far better way to determine how a food is affecting you and places responsibility for optimal health in your own capable hands.