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Self-Care

The Low Down On Nightshades And Inflammation

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Tomato, Eggplant, Cayenne Pepper, White Potato, Bell Peppers and Paprika all fall under the category of a “nightshade” vegetable (or spice) within the plant family of Solanaceae. When green and underdeveloped these vegetables have the potential to cause poisoning from a nitrogen-containing alkaloid compound called solanine. The risk of exposure to this toxin is lessened when the vegetables are at their most ripe and ready for consumption.

Many people are rumored to have adverse reactions to nightshade vegetables causing bowel issues and inflammation, exacerbating symptoms of auto-immune disease and arthritis.

Trial And Error

Over the years, I’ve worked with clients who have hired me specifically to help them heal from illness through food. Managing intake or eliminating foods altogether that could potentially contribute to inflammation and increase illness-related symptoms can be a daunting thought but not so difficult as we seem to make it while in task. If you are experiencing symptoms of inflammation, you may want to remove nightshade vegetables from your meals and the trial and error of what works and what doesn’t can begin – this means no pizza Napoletana, chili, bolognese, eggplant parmigiana or pico de gallo.

While experiencing any stage of a chronic inflammatory illness, it can be difficult to adjust to the physical symptoms and the multitude of ways that your body can speak discomfort to you. It’s so important to listen.

I recommend taking a daily log – mental or written, of any symptoms and corresponding meals for at least 2 weeks prior to elimination so that you can be sure of any changes directly connected to your eating habits. A good amount of time for your body to properly adjust during the elimination stage is 4-6 weeks. Continue to create a daily log of meals and any physical reactions, aches, pains and skin irritations.

As a note, I must say that it would be imperative to also remove any processed food products and cooking ingredients during this process of nightshade elimination. The overall goal is to remove inflammation from the body and not go on a witch hunt targeting nightshades as the culprit as there are so many contributors and hormone disruptors in our food system. Nightshade vegetables are highly beneficial in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that can actually combat inflammation in the body.

And most people don’t experience inflammation when eating them. With that being said, there could be quite a few variables that can trigger inflammation and you want to be sure. In the meantime, to replace tomato sauce for any recipes, I recommend making a puree of roasted beets. Check the recipe below. Enjoy.

Beet Puree

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound Red Beets
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Water

Method Of Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel beets and cut into quarts.
  3. Place on a baking tray with garlic cloves.
  4. Generously dress in olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until tender.
  6. Allow to cool and place in blender. Add water and more olive oil, and seasoning to taste.
  7. Consistency should be that of a smooth pasta sauce or ketchup.
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