by | Jul 31, 2022 | Nutritional Education

Nightshades are a family of foods and spices that contain chemical compounds called alkaloids.

What are alkaloids?

Alkaloids are a nitrogen-containing compound found throughout the nightshade family. It is part of the plant’s defense system against insects, molds, and pests. Consumption in large doses may be dangerous for humans and mammals and some believe that small doses could cause inflammation. An example of a dangerous alkaloid is tobacco.

In a study: 52% of those who reduced or stopped their nightshade consumption reported improvement. These people also eliminated gluten & dairy.

What’s the research say about Nightshades?

A common understanding is that nightshades can cause inflammation. After looking into this rumor, we concluded that there are no extensive studies proving that alkaloids cause inflammation. However, they may add fuel to the fire of people who have an underlying autoimmune condition (arthritis, lupus, IBD). The great news is that people with autoimmune conditions that removed nightshades found relief in joint pain, swelling, skin issues, and GI issues. So research aside, if you have autoimmune issues, removing nightshades might help with pain and discomfort.

How to eliminate nightshades:

An elimination diet may be beneficial for people with autoimmune conditions (You can do this with gluten, dairy, eggs, or nightshades).

  1. Remove all nightshades from the diet for 4 weeks
  2. Keep track of severity of symptoms in writing
  3. Slowly add one nightshade back at a time- continue to keep track of symptoms
  4. If you find certain nightshade causes you issues, avoid adding this back into the diet for a while
  5. If symptoms stayed the same after removing the nightshades, consult your doctor as you may need more intense care

Healthy immune system? Listen up!

If your immune system is healthy, do not remove nightshades. A healthy immune system will not react to alkaloids the same way as someone with an autoimmune condition. They provide nutrients such as Vitamin C, A, K, B6, and E, folic acid, antioxidants (lycopene), and fiber. Sensitivity does not last forever with nightshades, so it is important to try to incorporate them back into the diet.

Summing it up

Regardless of what research says, alkaloids are unlikely to cause harm to those with healthy immune systems.  However, alkaloids harm the immune systems of those with autoimmune conditions and can cause increased inflammation. Therefore, it is important to incorporate an elimination diet to identify your body’s triggers. You will also remove other harmful substances from your diet that may be worsening your condition. Please consult your dietitian/doctor prior to participating in an elimination diet.

Need assistance with your new diet? Complete the waitlist form found here.