Eggplants, tomatoes and bell peppers are all members of a group of foods known as nightshades. They are packed with nutrients, and most people benefit from including them as a regular part of their healthy diet.
You may have heard claims that nightshades can increase inflammation in the body and therefore should be avoided. This stems from the fact that nightshades contain alkaloids, which can be dangerous to humans in large doses. Yet, nightshades only contain small amounts of alkaloids. There has not been any evidence that the amount they contain is harmful.
However, as with all foods, it is possible to develop an allergy or sensitivity to nightshades.
Why Food Allergies Occur
Food allergies, like other types of allergies, occur when your body mistakes a harmless substance for something dangerous. Your body responds to this perceived threat by releasing IgE antibodies to neutralize the allergen. The next time you eat that food, the antibodies send a message to your immune system to release chemicals like histamine in your system. These chemicals cause your allergy symptoms.
Symptoms usually come on quickly and can include:
- Itchy or tingling mouth
- Digestive problems
- Swelling of the face, mouth, tongue and/or throat
- Difficulty breathing
In rare cases people with food allergies experience anaphylaxis. This is a severe allergic reaction that constricts the airways. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
How to Know if You Have a Nightshade Allergy
True allergies to nightshades are rare. It can also sometimes be difficult to know what foods you are allergic to, as many dishes contain different types of food mixed together.
The only way to know if you are allergic to a certain food is to visit an allergist. They will perform skin and/or blood tests to see what, if any foods, you are allergic to, and recommend treatment options.
The best treatment for food allergies is to stay away from your triggers. If testing determines that you are allergic to nightshades, make sure to avoid picking any up when shopping at Phoenicia Specialty Foods. Your allergist might also prescribe medication in case of accidental exposure.
If tests reveal you don’t have an allergy, but you continue to not feel well when consuming nightshades you may have a sensitivity to the food group.
Food sensitivity means that while no immune response is triggered, you still experience unpleasant symptoms like heartburn after eating it. In this case, it may be wise to eliminate nightshades from your diet for a bit to see if your symptoms improve. Just be sure to replace the nutrients you are cutting out of your diet with other healthy foods.
For more information on food allergies or to book an appointment with an expert allergist, contact Texas ENT & Allergy today.