Limit your intake of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants if you have chronic pain; nightshades can contribute to inflammation

If you suffer from chronic pain, limit your consumption of tomatoes, eggplants, and other nightshades. It is believed that this plant group can contribute to inflammation.

Nightshades, like tomatoes and eggplants, belong to the Solanaceae family which includes more than 2,000 species. This plant group has cholinesterase inhibiting glycoalkaloids and steroid alkaloids, such as solanine in potato and eggplant, tomatine in tomato, nicotine in tobacco, and capsaicin in garden peppers. Not truly nightshades, blueberries, huckleberries, goji berries and ashwagandha contain the same inflammation-inducing alkaloids.

According to The glycoalkaloids in potatoes play a part in the occurrence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and adversely affect intestinal permeability. When these inhibitors buildup in the body, alone or along with other cholinesterase inhibitors, they may cause a paralytic-like muscle spasm, aches, pains, tenderness, inflammation, and stiff body movements. If consumption is stopped, these symptoms may go away within a few hours or days. However, it depends on the sensitivity of the person, the number of nightshades consumed regularly, and their level of inflammation. Unfortunately, heavy consumers of nightshades may still experience inflammation and pain up to three months.

Because of their role in inflammation and pain, nightshades are also associated with arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the U.S. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 54.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common form. A lot of patients with arthritis or of diseases related to arthritis, such as lupus, rheumatism, and other musculoskeletal pain disorders, reported that eating foods that belong to the nightshade family affects their health.

How to confirm if nightshades negatively affect you

Try to challenge yourself by not eating any nightshade for three months to determine whether they adversely affect your health. Here is a list of nightshades you have to avoid:

  • Belladonna
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Eggplant
  • Garden huckleberry & blueberries
  • Goji berries
  • Gooseberries
  • Ground cherries
  • Okra
  • Paprika
  • Pepino melon
  • Peppers (all varieties, including bell pepper, wax pepper, green and red peppers, chili peppers, cayenne, paprika, etc.)
  • Potatoes (all varieties, except sweet potatoes and yams)
  • Sorrel
  • Tobacco
  • Tamarillos
  • Tomatoes (all varieties, even tomatillos)

After three months, start to reintroduce one nightshade at a time. Observe if you experience any aches, pains, stiffness, loss of energy, headaches, respiratory problems, or any other symptoms after consumption. You may notice how getting rid of nightshades from your diet will improve your health.

Healthy lifestyle changes to fight inflammation

In addition to nightshade plants, there are other foods that may cause inflammation. Try to limit or refrain from eating these foods: refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries; French fries and other fried foods; soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks; red meat, such as burgers and steaks; processed meat, such as hot dogs, sausages, and bacon; and margarine, shortening, and lard. Some of these foods not only contribute to inflammation, but they also increase the risk for chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In addition, unhealthy foods also play a role in weight gain, which is also a risk factor for inflammation.

To fight inflammation, include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet instead. These include the following: fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines; fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges; green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards; nuts, such as almonds and walnuts; and olive oil. Other lifestyle changes that can help fight inflammation include getting enough sleep, managing stress, controlling environmental factors, and being physically active.

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