These healthy, nutritious foods make people sick–so why aren’t they being studied?

nightshades solanaceae tomatoes potatoes peppers eggplant paprikaWhen most people think of tomatoes or peppers, they think of healthy dishes full of beneficial nutrients. They both contain fiber, antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and a variety of minerals. Tomatoes are also known as a great source of lycopene.

Did you know that potatoes are probably the most common of the so-called “nightshade” family? Also known as the Solanaceae family, other “relatives” include tomatoes, peppers (bell, spicy, paprika), eggplant, and potatoes. While the potato has gotten the short end of the stick in many diets, its starch is one of the ingredients that seems to be ever-present in gluten-free baked goods. It’s nearly impossible to avoid.

Interestingly, all of these foods have been related to various health concerns. Folk and alternative medicine suggest a relationship between eating nightshades and arthritis. Search the internet and you’ll find many anecdotal articles breaking down the ailments caused or worsened by eating these seemingly healthy veggies. But try to find mention in peer-reviewed scientific papers — go ahead. I’d love to see some.

Make no mistake, I have negative reactions to these foods myself, so I would love to read actual scientific studies to help explain what is going on. Components of these foods have been used medicinally and cosmetically through the centuries, on top of the intrinsic nutritional value. However, the very same alkaloids that bring these benefits seems to affect negative reactions in sensitive people. Do you have chronic migraines that don’t seem to go away? Indigestion, GERD, or stomach cramps after indulging in tomato sauces and salsas? It could be the nightshades in your diet.

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