By Caitlyn Kambouroglos, Registered Dietitian
What do potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers all have in common? They are all considered nightshade vegetables. Nightshade plants are a part of a family of plants known as Solanaceae. This group of plants include both edible and inedible, even poisonous ones. In sensitive individuals, often those with autoimmune diseases or leaky gut, nightshade vegetables may cause similar immune reactions to that of wheat and dairy.
There are over 2,000 species of nightshade plants, some more common than others. If looking to follow an elimination diet to see if you are sensitive to nightshades, you may consider avoiding the following:
Some symptoms of nightshade allergies or sensitivities may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, itchiness, nerve sensitization, joint pain, general weakness and difficulty breathing. Like with any true food allergy, nightshade allergies should be taken seriously. Those with autoimmune disease may want to take a closer look at nightshades to see if they are contributing to further inflammation in the body.
There are many other fruits, vegetables and spices that can act as substitutions when eliminating nightshades. For example, you can have sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, white or black pepper instead of red pepper and blueberries in place of gooseberries and ground cherries. While many nightshades have health benefits, if your body is sensitive to them it may be helpful to eliminate them while you allow your body time to heal.