White Potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers (including chilli, paprika, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and bell peppers) are the edible varieties of the deadly nightshade family and are full of nutrients. However, many of us suffer when we consume them and a lot is written about why we shouldn’t be eating them, but the evidence is slim.
Edible deadly nightshades, there are many more poisonous varieties, can cause a problem especially if you suffer from an auto-immune condition and particularly rheumatoid arthritis. Some find that these foods cause inflammation and pain, especially in the joints and bones, and this is due to the high Vitamin D3 content. Animal studies show that this vitamin in high doses prevents calcium metabolism so therefore causes deposits of calcium in the soft tissue instead of the bones, but we don’t metabolise Vit D3 the same as animals so it’s not conclusive evidence and we are all different.
The more plausible reasons for these foods giving health issues is that they contain compounds called alkaloids and these include solanine which is in green potatoes, capsicum (the hot part of the pepper) and nicotine which is found in small amounts. These protect the plant by warding off any unwanted pests and moulds and in the edible varieties these are found in small amounts but in the non-edible plants they are found in high levels hence why they are toxic to humans.
It’s the toxic issue that may be causing problems with those who have compromised digestive systems and that would include those with auto-immune conditions. This is because it may increase the body’s auto immune response which is not exactly what you want when you have an auto-immune condition as it is already at a heightened response level. The alkaloids in these foods, which are designed to protect and kill unwanted visitors, once ingested can begin to harm the small intestine which can cause an auto-immune reaction. Lectin can also be found in the nightshade foods and these, for most people, are absolutely fine but they can cause gut irritation where there is a weak digestive system. These foods though have so many benefits i.e. hot peppers are anti-inflammatory and alkaloids are used in drugs as it’s a strong anti-spasmodic.
If you are unsure whether you are sensitive then consider doing a 4-6 week complete elimination of these foods to see the results. If you eat them ensure you peel the potato as the alkaloids are in the skin and cook them as this reduces the alkaloids too.
Be sensible and listen to your body. If it seems ok to eat these foods then it probably is!