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Nightshade Foods May Trigger Allergic Reactions

This time of year as the weather changes and we all get quite busy preparing for the holidays, we may find ourselves becoming run down, overwhelmed, and fussier than normal.  Such agitation if extended over days or weeks can compromise the immune system by the secretion of stress chemicals from the adrenal glands, namely adrenalin and cortisol.  The liver needs to utilize lots of vital nutrients to detoxify stress chemistry.  It becomes important to adjust one’s diet to include lots of fruits and vegetables especially those yummy root vegetables abundant this time of year that provide these needed nutrients.

Another seasonal or ongoing concern may be the rise of allergies and asthma triggered by the cooler temperatures.  Certain foods may be the catalysts for allergies.  One family of foods, the , oftentimes are the underlying cause of certain allergic responses.  Nightshade foods include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds except black pepper, eggplant, tobacco, some spices, and petunias.  Avoiding nightshades altogether is a daunting task requiring careful label reading.

Potatoes or potato starch are often part of commercial soups, biscuit and bread mixes, some yogurts, and frozen seafood.  Ingredients such as modified vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, imitation crab, sausages, and meatballs may contain nightshades.  Spices such as cayenne and chili pepper, ground red pepper, and paprika are nightshades.  Potatoes get used for thickening agents for many products.  When labels say “spices,” these are usually nightshades used for flavoring.

The toxin solanine in nightshades responsible for allergic reactions in sensitive people can oftentimes be reduced or neutralized by baking, roasting, or cooking with salt or miso according to Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods (2002).  Safe spices to use are fenugreek, coriander, cumin, turmeric, celery seed, mace, black or white pepper, ginger, salt, cloves, allspice, caraway seeds, and garlic.    To thicken foods and sauces try cornstarch, arrowroot, or kudzu.  Adding lots of garlic to your dishes helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure—a wonderful supporting side effect during busy holiday times.

Try eliminating these foods completely for a week or longer.  Monitor your energy level and symptoms.  Then reintroduce one nightshade food at a time for a couple of days and monitor symptoms.  If nothing occurs, that food may not be your trigger.  Add another one for a couple of days and monitor.  You will then be able to discover if any or all of the nightshade family irritates your system and need to be avoided.

Although so many of the nightshade foods are our favorites and would be hard to eliminate, being symptom free from allergies due to such foods seems a small undertaking when other great and tasty foods are available and satisfying.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN owns Touchstone Massage Therapies and Nutrition Plus! She is the founding member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council.  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.

Photo By Ajith_chatie

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