(NaturalNews) We know vegetables are part of a healthy diet, but what about nightshade vegetables? Health research on these vegetables has focused on a group of substances called alkaloids which can impact nerve-muscle and digestive function in animals and humans. They may also compromise joint function. The alkaloids in nightshades are not only the basis for consideration of them as drugs, but also for understanding adverse reactions when they are eaten as food.
Nightshade is the common name used to describe over 2,800 species of plants. Lest the term "nightshade vegetable" conjures a stew with bat wings and toads, it's not that interesting. The reason for the name is they are grown in the shade of night.
Nightshade vegetables are in the Solanaceae family of plants. Among them are tomato, potato, eggplant, and peppers of all kinds, except black pepper. Tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco sauce are also classified as nightshade foods.
Plants produce alkaloids primarily designed to help protect them from insects. But in a pharmacological sense the interest has been the drug-like alkaloids best known in mandrake, tobacco and belladonna (deadly nightshade.) Close examination reveals these alkaloids are chemical substances with strong physiological effects.
The active alkaloid in nightshades, solanine, is more familiar to us as nicotine.
The leaves of all food nightshades contain some level of nicotine, the addictive chemical found in tobacco. Called solanine in potatoes, tomatine in tomatoes, alpha-solanine in eggplants or solanadine in chillies and capsicums, nicotine by any other name is still a drug-like alkaloid that may compromise function in the bodies of sensitive individuals. There is no solid research evidence showing an impact on the nervous system or joints, but it appears there are certain segments of the population that when nightshades are eliminated, a variety of mental, emotional and physical conditions are alleviated.
One of the major problems attributed to nightshades is arthritis. In fact, one in three arthritics will react badly to nightshades. Some researchers believe that arthritis is often misdiagnosed in people who may in fact only be experiencing the effects of nightshade consumption.
Alkaloids appear to affect the metabolism of calcium. Though not yet understood how, nightshade foods may remove calcium from bones and deposit it in soft tissue, setting the stage for arthritis. For this reason, researchers have recommended that all individuals with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other joint problems like gout eliminate nightshade foods from their diet.
In 1980, The Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation was established to study the nightshade/arthritis connection. Their determination was, "If nightshades can be eaten or used sparingly, arthritis can be slowed in developing."
On the other hand, the University of Washington website says, "No foods have been definitively shown to cause or exacerbate arthritis in most individuals. A variety of diets and hand me down information exists about certain foods and arthritis, in particular the night shade plants, but none of it has been proven."
According to Ronenn Roubenoff, MD, a nutritionist at the Tufts University School of Medicine, "Potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant, for example, frequently are blamed for causing arthritic flares. Studies have shown this occurs in only 1-2% of patients."
While it is up to the individual whether or not to eliminate nightshade vegetables from your diet, if you have concerns, modifying certain foods in your diet can be a good idea. It just might help identify problem foods of all types, including nightshade vegetables.
Arthritis Research Nightshades Foundation, Norman F. Childers PhD Nutrition Changes Bring Relief to Rheumatoid Arthritis SufferersWebMD Health News Nov. 19, 1999
About the author
Deanna Dean is the Wellness Director for Your Health Coach, a company dedicated to health and wellness education. website: yourhealthcoachdee.com Dee is a Wellness & Weight Loss Coach, a Certified Natural Health Professional, is pursuing an ND degree-Naturopathic Doctor, is a certified Raw Chef, certified in Dietary Guidelines from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, former Personal Trainer, Yoga and Fitness Studio Owner, TV and Radio Guest, Health Columnist. Deanna develops customized programs to enhance the health of her clients, educates, and coaches dieters for safe weight loss.
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