Monday, July 31, 2017

Nightshades: How I Found Out

My sister always hated eggplant. She said it makes her tongue buzz. I thought that was weird. We did not eat much eggplant growing up, so it was inconsequential. Or so we thought...

Two years ago my sister complained that sun dried tomatoes gave her tongue the same buzzing sensation. I decided to research. I discovered eggplant and tomatoes are related! So are peppers and potatoes. They are all in the Solanaceae family--Nightshades. I found that some people can be sensitive to these vegetables, and jokingly recommended that my sister give them up. She did not give them up immediately, but she did start paying attention to how eating them affected her.

It wasn't until last summer that anyone made the connection between nightshades and my health. My sister complained about potato chips making her mouth feel like it was torn up. I recalled getting the same feeling from something I ate, but could not remember what. Within a week I found out what it was: chili.

Then my mom read an article that said eating nightshades can exacerbate symptoms for those with autoimmune diseases. Sometimes eating nightshades can even cause the symptoms. What really got her attention was that nightshade sensitivity is hereditary.

I did not like being told I needed to stop eating nightshades. I snacked regularly on peppers and tomatoes. I loved pizza, spaghetti, and barbecue. But I decided to try it and see if it would improve my health.

It did. My health improved so much that even six months pregnant I had more energy than I had had in ten years.

I discovered that nightshades were everywhere. Sure, I knew to avoid French fries and ketchup, but I discovered they hide in unexpected food. I started reading every food label.

It was worth the diet change to feel better. After a while, I experimented with adding nightshades back into my diet and immediately had fatigue and joint pain that lasted at least a day. I may gaze longingly at tomatoes and peppers now, but I'm not going to eat them! the sacrifice is worth it to have my health.

Want to read more about my experience with Nightshades?

So Much Better
Nightshades Where You Don't Expect
Cooking Without Nightshades

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  1. Sometimes I wish I knew what caused my dry skin, but I've never been able to see a change when I tested dairy or gluten........ It is hard to give things up, but when there's a huge benefit..... It helps!!!

    1. So glad you figured out yours!!

    2. I think there's a blood test you can do for food sensitivities, but I haven't done one. It is little motivation when you don't see much improvement.

  2. I'm so glad you've been feeling better! I have had so much trial and error with different things about diet. Affer being sick with Epstein-Barr for several years and then having different autoimmune issues probably partly due to that-I just got tired of being so sick all the time! I so understand the chronic fatigue. Diet really makes a HUGE difference for me, but only if I pay attention to how different foods affect me. I avoid wheat and dairy 99.9% of the time because I can see a pretty direct and immediate reaction. I quit eating nightshades very much for a year after doing research on foods that exacerbate autoimmune conditions. I do notice if I eat very many of them (or more than a small serving of corn) I deal with stiff joints and a few other issues of just not feeling that great. But...when I first got married I almost totally avoided tomatoes since I knew I would not feel so great after I ate them. Gradually, the symptoms have gotten less and less as my diet of more nourishing foods than I WAS eating has improved (lots of soup, fish, collagen, supplements, cod liver oil, etc.). I can eat nightshades now and have 0 symptoms as long as I don't just go crazy on the amount. Some things I still have to avoid totally but I can tolerate so many more foods than I used to! My hope is to eventually be able to add back some wheat and especially dairy! And even nuts (my scariest allergy). But I have so many other foods I love now that it's not really that much of a hardship. Sorry for writing a book. I just always am immediately fascinated by anything I read about this subject! Have you looked into the autoimmune protocol? Most of my diet is a jumbled combination of information from that, paleo diets, and Weston A. Price. I don't follow anything strictly, but there's lots of good (and maybe not so good) bits of info in all of those :)

    1. Thank you! And I'm glad you are doing better as well. It sounds like you've had a lot of experience with paying attention to what your body is telling you about your diet. I do hope that at some point I may be able to eat small amounts of nightshades without adverse effects, but I'm happy just being well even if that never happens. I haven't read a great deal about autoimmune protocol, but I'll check it out.