Why Are Nightshades Bad For You (& What They Are)

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Why are nightshades bad for you? Can tomatoes and eggplants poison you?

You’ve probably heard of nightshades. You know, the things that cover your windows when you sleep?

No, actually: they’re the class of vegetables that many people, including Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen now avoid. (Gluten takes a sigh of relief that someone else is getting the attention). 

They’ve been anecdotally and scientifically linked to issues such as:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • IBS 
  • Eczema 

And they are very common in most people’s diets — including in one of the most common foods eaten in the world. 

Here’s what they are and how to avoid them.

What Exactly Are Nightshades? 

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Why did Italians refuse to even eat tomatoes for 200 years after columbus brought them? Why have italians always known that you must undress tomatoes and deseed them before cooking them? No, it’s not because they are attracted to them….

It’s because lectins can be toxic to many people. Removal of these vegetables from the diet often results in significant improvements in joint pain, arthritis, and other autoimmune symptoms.

Nightshades are part of the Solanaceae family of vegetables….which is kind of like the Corleone family of vegetables. 

They include foods such as 

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Peppers

It’s a very diverse family…almost like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s.

And many people are now waking up to the fact that they might be toxic. 

I Thought Vegetables Were Healthy…Why Are They Toxic? 

Wait, you thought all colorful vegetables were God’s gift to earth and healing elixirs? It turns out that’s not true. Some of these so called “healthy foods” may actually be damaging your health. 

Our beloved vegetables — the foods that we hated so much as a child, but our parents forced us to eat because they were “healthy” — are actually TOXIC. 

Almost every vegetable has a toxin in it that can be irritating. The table below summarizes some of the toxins that you can find in plants. 

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Plants were not put on earth to protect you and fuel your spin class. They are here for their own benefit, and like us that is to reproduce. 

Similar to humans, they have their own immune defense system to fend off predators. Instead of running away or attacking like animals, they produce toxins. Hidden pesticides like Kevin McCallister in home alone.

Plants contain hundreds of chemicals to defend against predation. 

A 1990 study identified 27 rodent carcinogens in plants that are produced for self defense.

About half of the tested chemicals were rodent carcinogens, and are found in many common foods . 

Like soy and vegetable oils, nightshades are brand new in our diets in the evolutionary scale of things. The tomato, for instance, was first introduced to north america in the 18th century and even then it wasn’t even eaten because they thought it was poisonous. 

The eggplant too had the nickname “mad apple” because people in the Mediterranean thought it would make you go insane if you ate it for a month straight. 

Why? Nightshades are loaded with these natural pesticides and cause issues for many people.

If you’re interested in cutting vegetables out of your diet (psh, who isn’t) and getting to the best health of your life, sign up below for my 14 day guide to getting started with the carnivore diet.

Why Are Nightshades Bad For You? Toxins in Nightshades

Why are nightshades bad for you? They contain two potent plant protective toxins: lectins and alkaloids. 

Glycoalkaloids

Alkaloids are built in bug repellents that nightshades produce.

Glycoalkaloid content varies by nightshade adn by ripeness. 

The most common glycoalkaloid to be aware of is solanine. It is prevalent in high quantities in the skin of potatoes. And levels beyond this have been reported in the skins of many potatoes. The US has a maximum limit for the amount a potato can have, but even small amounts can be toxic

Potatoes aren’t the only villain. Solanine is also in eggplants. And tomatoes are high in solanines counterpart, tomatine. However, tomatine levels tend to be much lower in tomatoes than potatoes — they drop  from ~500mg/kg to ~ 5mg/kg  in ripe tomatoes. 

These glycoalkaloids exert their effects via a few mechanisms. First off, they are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Via this mechanism, they inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, increasing levels in the brain. This causes prolonged muscle contractions, making you stiffer than a bodybuilder. 

Glycoalkaloids also disrupt sterol containing membranes — translation, glycoalkaloids are not friends with almost every cell membrane in your body. 

Lectins

On top of the alkaloids, nightshades also contain lectins. 

Lectins are designed (by evolution) to cause a severe immune response in the insects that eat them, which ultimately results in paralysis.

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But the same mechanisms are detrimental to your health.

Lectins are like sugar seeking drones. And because sugar is on almost every cell in your body, lectins seek them out and latch on. 

They also bind to something called Sialic acid, which is found in the gut, brain and nerve endings. Brain fog is often the result of your brain literally getting clogged with these lectins, which disrupt normal cellular communication. 

Lectins are in both plants and animals, however the most damaging ones are in plants. Seeds are precious to the plants as they are carriers of the genes. Plants devise powerful methods to protect them.  The outer coatings of seeds are armed with lectins. Plants that were best able to protect their offspring survived. So today, the plants we have are extremely specialized seed protectors. 

This is why italians peel and undress tomatoes — because plants concentrate the protective compounds there. 

Dangers of Eating Nightshades

What are some of the dangers of nightshades. This is exactly why nightshades are bad for you.

They’ve been clinically and experimentally linked to: 

  • Many cases of livestock death
  • Gut issues
  • Allergic reactions
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Eczema 

The list of potential dangers goes on and on. 

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This reads like something off of a pharmaceutical commercial, not the dangers of a plant that’s ubiquitous. But as I constantly preach, vegetables are not your friends (sorry to break it to you if but it’s time to find some new friends). 

Nightshades are toxic to smaller animals, and potentially toxic to humans, especially if you’re already vulnerable (like many of you are — or you wouldn’t be here in the first place, am I right?). And if you are a smaller animal, like a mouse, first off please send a picture and 2nd you should definitely not eat them. 

In fact, my facebook group carnivore nation is littered with examples of people reversing these issues by cutting out plants and nightshades.

In Europe, for instance, swine that ingested potatoes were suddenly killed. Other symptoms included anorexia and vomiting. The only thing “super” about these “superfoods” is their ability to poison you

Well, you’re not a swine. So what is the biggest danger for you? My hypothesis is that htey exert their mechanism via causing leaky gut (a condition linked to almost every chronic disease). 

Nightshades have been reported to increase intestinal permeability. They open up the tight junctions in your gut, and allow endotoxins into your blood stream. Rodent studies have revealed this mechanism . 

According to this study, you can accumulate glycoalkaloids in your body, and the effects may take time to develop .

What if I told you that the “healthy plants” in your diet can exert effects similar to nerve gas? Neurological symptoms like weakness and depression are common in patients suffering from glycoalkaloid poisoning. This is likely a manifestation of the aforementioned mechanism of antiacetylcholinesterase. 

I bet you’ll never look at those french fries the same way ever again.

There have been documented cases of serious poisoning from the glycoalkaloid solanine in children. 

78 school children had diarrhea and vomiting, and 17 had to go to the hospital. This wasn’t because of anthrax poisoning — it was simply because of eating potatoes that had been in storage for too long . 

Additionally, a study on mice in 2002 showed that potatoes aggravated IBD symptoms . Given the importance of gut integrity to overall health, I steer clear of nightshades. 

Nightshades Food List

The problem with nightshades is how ubiquitous they are. In fact, they are prevalent in one of the most widely consumed food in the world: potatoes. 

A normal potato has 12 – 20 mg / kg of glycoalkaloids. A green potato has almost 10x that amount. 

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Tomato glycoalkaloids are about 20x less toxic than potato ones . This is because tomatoes are fruits and fruits are designed to be consumed. 

Whereas potato glycoalkaloids are located mainly in the skin, in eggplants, glycoalkaloids are found primarily within the seeds and flesh; the peel contains negligible amounts.

Eggplants also have ~10 – 20mg / kg of glycoalkaloids .

Red and green bell peppers have < 10mg of glycoalkaloids per kg. 

Some other nightshades are the following:

  • Okra
  • Goji berries
  • Tomatillos
  • Sorrel ­
  • Gooseberries ­
  • Ground cherries ­
  • Pepino melons
  • Tobacco
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Capsicum

According to this study “Concentrations of glycoalkaloids are 3 to 10 times greater in the peel than in the flesh” . So if you must eat potatoes, make sure to peel them. 

Conclusion

If you’re here, you’re likely not feeling as best as you think you can. Maybe you don’t have as much energy as you like and you’re riddled with brain fog. Maybe you’re inflamed and have aching joints.

Well I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case. And like most nutritionists, I’m not going to tell you that the answer is to eat more plants and vegetables. In fact, I think the answer is to do the exact opposite.

The carnivore diet is the most powerful elimination diet in the world. It will help you triangulate what foods are causing you issues while still providing every nutrient you need.

If you’re interested in getting started, sign up below for my 14 day guide to mastering the carnivore diet.

I also tweet and instagram daily. 

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