How to Know if You Have an Allergy to Nightshade Fruit and Vegetables
Nightshades are a family of flowering plants with a very diverse range, too diverse to fully explore here. This article is concerned about the ones you eat, those with seeds which turn into fruit or vegetables. If you suffer from an allergy to the nightshade family of fruit and vegetables, then you will feel the effects in your body. The severity of the reaction can range from mild to acute and even be life threatening in the latter case. This oneHOWTO article on how to know if you have an allergy to nightshade fruit and vegetables will tell you what to look for, what might happen and what you can do to avoid a nightshade allergy flare up.
Which Fruit and Vegetables are Nightshade?
Some people may have an allergy to a certain plant, so they have to stay away from them. Unfortunately this is not so easy with nightshade fruit and vegetables. They encompass many staple foods eaten as part of the human diet. It's hard enough to get your 5-a-day fruit and vegetables without a nightshade allergy, but being unable to eat the following can make it extra troublesome:
- white potatoes
- bell peppers
- cayenne pepper
- chile peppers (not peppercorns)
- cape gooseberries (not an actual gooseberry, closer to a tomato)
- pepino melons
- goji berries
- ashwagandha (an Indian herb)
- pepino melons
There are a few others, but these are the most commonly consumed. You may have heard of deadly nightshade and thought all of these fall into the category, but this is not so. Technically, everyone is allergic to deadly nightshade. This is because it is a specific type of nightshade which we do not consume as food, but which is deadly if ingested. It has been used since ancient times as a poison similar to that of hemlock and strychnine.
How Do Nightshades Affect Humans?
If you don't have a nightshade fruit and vegetable allergy, they will be very good for you. Many in the above list have high levels of vitamins C and K, potassium, manganese and a whole host of phytonutrients which act as antioxidants. Nightshade fruit like eggplants can help reduce the risk of cancer, improve brain function, help to manage weight and are full of nutrients. Unfortunately, as good as these health benefits are, they won't help you if you have a nightshade allergy.
Nightshades contain something called glycoalkaloids. These act as protection for the plants by dissolving the membranes of small predators such as flies and gnats. Some argue they can have both preventative and restorative properties in humans. It is possible a nightshade may work as an anti-inflammatory and some have argued that they can also prevent certain cancer causing carcinogenics. However, thanks to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), certain products which promoted their use in this way have been taken off the market or re-branded as there was not enough evidence to support their effectiveness. More concerning with nightshades is that too many glyoalkaloids in your body can be potentially toxic, affecting both the nervous and digestive systems.
In high doses, nightshades can be dangerous to all humans. Unfortunately, some have a more acute nightshade allergy and will exhibit certain symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be similar to other food intolerances or allergies. These include gluten or lactose allergies. We need to be careful when determining what is actually at fault in our diet.
Going back to ancient times, some believed nightshades may have had an affect on mental health. Eggplants were thought to cause madness .In Egypt, if you see someone acting erratically, you may still hear someone saying "it's eggplant season". There is no scientific evidence to make this correlation. As eggplants promote overall health, they are more likely to be of benefit to you mentally as long as you don't have a nightshade allergy.
Symptoms of Nightshade Allergy
Whereas some may believe that nightshade can act as an anti-inflammatory, those suffering from a nightshade allergy are likely to see the opposite affect. Swelling in joints and joint stiffness are known symptoms of those suffering from nightshade allergy. This can also lead to muscle and nerve pain as well as:
- poor recovery from wounds
- heartburn and acid reflux
- digestive issues include constipation or diarrhoea
- puffiness in the face
- skin rashes
While not necessarily "maddening" like some ancient cultures believed, a nightshade allergy can cause mood swings and depression. This is often due to a lowering of the immune system. In acute cases, they can elicit restlessness, stupor and rambling. A nightshade allergy is something to consider if you are experiencing some mental health problems. However, there are a lot of other possible causes for these symptoms other than a nightshade allergy. Seeing a mental health professional is vital if you are experiencing them.
Hip pain, rashes, sensitive nerves and heartburn are particular symptoms to look out for in children with a nightshade allergy. There is no direct evidence to state that a nightshade allergy can cause arthritis, but you do need to be careful if you are exhibiting these symptoms. As with your mental health, if there are symptoms you are experiencing and you do not understand their cause, seek a physician's advice.
How to Test if You Have a Nightshade Allergy
There are two main ways to test for a nightshade allergy. The first is practical, but easier said than done. Start by removing any nightshade fruit and vegetables from your diet. While you may not eat it, although many chew it, this includes tobacco products. Quitting smoking will be good for your overall health, regardless. If the symptoms of a nightshade allergy persist, then you will know that something else is the cause. If they stop, then it is likely you have a nightshade allergy. You can keep a food diary of what it is you eat and this can help determine the problem.
Regardless of your own findings about a nightshade allergy, you should see a doctor for diagnosis. With a blood and/or skin test, the doctor can better find out the cause of your problems. This way they make sure there is no underlying condition which may be unrelated to your diet. If you only stop eating something because you think you have an allergy, including a nightshade allergy, you may be wrong. This can lead you to not only missing out on important nutrients, but also depriving yourself of enjoyable life experiences. Some people may indeed have a nightshade allergy, but as any lover of spaghetti bolognese can attest, they are delicious in the right circumstances.
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