Do you struggle with food sensitivities, allergies, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease or leaky gut syndrome? There is a real possibility that certain vegetables may be exacerbating your symptoms.
So what are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshade vegetables are members of the Solanaceae family and are completely healthy for most people, but for some they may cause immune reactions similar to wheat or dairy. They include;
- Potatoes (NOT sweet potatoes)
- Capsicum (including peppers such as; chilli and cayenne)
- Goji berries
- Eggplant (aubergine)
- Pimentos (in olives)
- Nicotine in tobacco
- Withania aka Ashwaganda (herb)
Symptoms of Nightshade sensitivity;
Not everyone has a problem with nightshades, but for those with leaky gut, auto-immune conditions, IBS and other gut-related issues, there may be signs of intolerance such as;
- joint pain, particulalry bad for those with Osteo or Rheumatoid arthritis
- digestive issues; nausea, bloating, flatulence, constipation, anaemia and poor food absorption
- itching or reddening of the skin,
- emotional reactions; depression, anxiety
What to do if you suspect an issue?
If you suffer from an autoimmune disease (especially rheumatoid arthritis or anything else that causes joint pain and inflammation), totally eliminating nightshade vegetables for one month, would be a good idea.
If you only suspect a slight sensitivity, it might be enough just to reduce the nightshade content of their diet, or reducing the levels of the worst offending chemicals by;
- Peeling potatoes (as the alkaloids are mostly found in the skin)
- Avoiding green and raw tomatoes and green and/or sprouting potatoes (unripe and raw nightshades are higher in alkaloids)
Why do they cause problems in some people?
Most of the evidence is anecdotal and although there’s no accepted proof, there are a number of theories, including;
- Vitamin D form in Nightshades;
The very potent form of vitamin D3 found in nightshades may prevent proper calcium metabolism, causing calcium to be deposited in soft tissues and not in our bones. Excess calcium in soft tissues causes a stiffening and tightening of soft tissues and joints. It can also form bone spurs.
- Alkaloids and Lectins
Alkaloids include; solanine (found in potatoes, especially green ones), nicotine (in varying amounts depending on the vegetable) and capsaicin (the chemical that gives chilli’s their heat).
These alkaloids work in the plant as a natural pesticide against bugs and mould that would otherwise attack the plant.
Although these compounds are toxic to pests, they’re are mostly tolerated by humans, particularly those with a healthy gut. Compromised gut health, especially in those suffering from an auto-immune condition, may start to notice a problem with them. Some of those alkaloids will stimulate an over-reaction of the immune system, definitely something to be avoided in those suffering from auto-immunity!
Another risk of these alkaloids, is that they may be damaging and irritating the cells lining the intestinal tract. This may exacerbate leaky gut which again triggers an autoimmune reaction as unprocessed proteins and toxins are able to leak through the lining of the gut wall into our bloodstream and therefore causes our bodies to attack them.
Lectins may also be part of the problem. Although all foods contain lectins; a lot of lectins are completely harmless, but there are others that irritate the gut. The lectins in nightshades may also be gut irritants in those that are sensitive which may set off the same leaky gut reaction as alkaloids.
- Toxic or Beneficial?
Remeber, problems from these compounds will only arise in people who are sensitive to nightshades.
Those who have no issues with them, really shouldn’t stop eating them as there are considerable health benefits. For example, capsaicin in capsicums and chilli’s trigger a beneficial anti-inflammatory reaction in those that can tolerate it.
Like anything, what may be harmful in one person, may actually be beneficial in another!
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 tbsp ghee, melted
- 1/2 tbsp parsley and crushed garlic (optional)
- Place the almond flour, arrowroot or tapioca flour, baking soda and pinch of salt in a bowl.
- Add the coconut milk, water and apple cider vinegar.
- Mix to combine.
- Heat a small frying pan over medium heat.
- Brush with 1/4 of the melted ghee.
- Pour in 1/4 cup of batter and swirl around slightly.
- Cook for 3 minutes per side or until golden and crisp.
- Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Brush with remaining melted ghee, sprinkle with chopped parsley and garlic and serve.
- 2 carrots (grated)
- 2 zucchinis (grated)
- 1 large brown onion finely diced
- 1 cup of fine polenta
- 6 eggs beaten
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil
- 4 slices of woodsmoked bacon diced (optional)
- A handful of whatever fresh herb you would like to flavour, I used basil this time but parsley, oregano, thyme (cut up finely) all work well
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- A sprinkling of cheese for the top (optional)
- Himalayan salt and pepper to season
- Toppings; cherry tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, poached eggs or slices of smoked salmon
Throw everything in a bowl and stir!
Bake in a greased glass or ceramic dish on 180 degrees covered with foil to keep the moisture in for about an hour or until skewer comes out clean.
Top with topping of choice.
Serve warm from the oven as a main with a side salad or have a slice in the fridge to eat cold as a snack
Another great option with this recipe, is to use muffin trays to make individual portions, as it freezes so well and can be taken out as needed or popped into the kids lunchboxes!
- Splash of coconut oil, rice bran oil or butter
- 1 small brown onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tin of crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup semi-dried tomatoes (or a tablesoon of tomato paste)
- 400g can of Borlotti beans (or your favourite beans), drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp dried cumin (optional)
- 1 tsp dried oregano (optional, but really nice!)
- 1 tsp dried thyme (optional, but really nice!)
- ½ tsp dried cayenne pepper (optional)
- Sea salt & cracked black pepper
- Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat.
- Add onions and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent.
- Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes to release their sweetness.
- Add beans, herbs and spices and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Taste and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- Rice bran oil or butter for cooking
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 large or 3 button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups diced cooked vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, zucchini, etc) OR 2 cups of cooked frozen vegetables, drained
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup grated cheese (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Heat a dash of oil in an oven suitable frying pan (24cm diameter). Add the onion and mushrooms, and cook over a medium heat until it starts to soften.
- Add vegetables and toss to mix. Reduce heat and allow vegetables to warm through.
- Whisk together eggs and milk. Season well with salt and black pepper. Pour over the sausages and vegetables.
- Scatter over grated cheese if using.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until eggs are set and topping golden.
- 1 small tin of tuna in brine, drained, mixed with some chopped cucumber, capsicum, coriander, basil, a squeeze of lemon and black pepper
- ½ cup of live, natural yoghurt with home-stewed fruit, small drizzle of honey, 1 dessertspoon of LSA or chopped raw mixed nuts and seeds
- Cottage cheese mixed with fresh, chopped herbs and curry powder or chopped organic dried apricots and almonds. Use vegetable sticks, pappadums, rice crackers (without MSG, no. 621), toasted wedges of pita bread or wholegrain crackers such as Ryevitas.
- Home-made humous, guacamole (avocado dip) or baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) with vegie sticks
- Celery sticks with cream cheese, fetta or nut butter
- Small handful of raw, unsalted mixed nuts and seeds and a piece of fruit or a few dried fruits such as sulphur free apricots, dates or prunes. Organic wherever possible
- Small piece of cheese (about the size of a finger) such as goat’s cheese or cheese from organic cow’s milk with a piece of fruit
- Home-made smoothie with berries, banana, 1 cup of organic milk (or almond, rice or soy), organic yoghurt or silken tofu (for protein) and cinnamon
- Home-made rice pudding; ½ cup basmati or brown rice cooked in milk (or try coconut milk!!), cinnamon, vanilla essence, cloves and raw honey to taste (avoid if pregnant) sprinkled with chopped nuts and seeds. Healthy cooked rice recipe here; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2016/05/13/healthier-low-carb-rice/
- Home-made muffin using spelt flour, fresh fruit and nuts or spinach, fetta and sun-dried tomatoes
- Boiled egg
- Flaxseed crackers with fetta cheese; click here for a recipe; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2017/02/21/raw-flaxseed-crackers-paleo-low-allergy/
- Protein ball, click here for a recipe; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2016/12/09/raw-protein-balls/
A Few Tips
- Prepare your snacks in advance and keep a supply at home and at work.
- Eat quality protein, fat and fibre at every meal and snack to help keep blood sugar levels stabilised and stop you craving sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Eating snacks is a vital way to keep your metabolism working at its peak, your concentration high and your mood stable.
- Eating snacks and keeping meal portions smaller may be an effective way to manage weight for some people. Getting very hungry may mean we are less conscientious about our food choices and more likely to overeat. The body also immediately stores food eaten when hungry as fat deposits because it erroneously thinks we are heading into a time of less food availability.
- Snacking may sustain energy levels throughout the day and reduce the consumption of “quick energisers” such as sugar and caffeine which give us a quick energy burst and releases adrenaline, but then leave us with an energy slump.