A good friend and fellow nutrition nerd was recently diagnosed with arthritis in her hips. Being a firm believer in food’s ability to heal and assist in the treatment of conditions, she started transitioning her diet and taking note of which foods promoted and which foods inhibited pain. During her trials, she discovered that the avoidance of nightshades had a direct correlation with her hip pain.
Nightshades are a group of vegetables that are part of the solanaceae family and include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, tomatillos, eggplant, cayenne pepper, and paprika. The alkaloid properties of these vegetables are what is thought to attribute to the disruption of nerve and joint function.
If not prone to an inflammatory condition such as arthritis, then the avoidance of these foods is not necessary and would actually cause you to miss out on an abundance of nutrient dense and delicious produce. If you are someone with an existing joint issue, a trail elimination of these foods might be beneficial in determining if these foods contribute to joint ailments.
The nightshade-anti-inflammatory correlation is not a definitive association. It is a theory that seems to have some promising evidence. Yet the nightshade reference is a good tool to keep in mind when experiencing an ailment. Food is potent and can cause positive and negative reactions. For example, we know that diets high in saturated fat can lead to cardiovascular problems and that diets rich in fruits and vegetables and lean protein and omega 3s like the Mediterranean diet are cardio protective. Every body is different and it is therefore essential to be in tune with how your body responds to the various foods you put in it. Ideally you want to aim for optimizing your dietary intake, listening to your bodies’ cues and avoid problematic foods without feeling like you have to skimp on flavor or the pure enjoyment of eating.