With so much information about food, diets and lifestyle on the internet, it had become extra challenging to understand what is healthy and what is not. However, every day a new diet trend promises us to be “the one”, so how can you not be confused?
But regardless of the diet, you choose to follow, some foods that are part of almost all diets and thought to be innocent and healthy can produce mucus, joint pain and even brain fog. What is important to remember is that eating healthy isn’t’ always black and white, and what helps one person can hurt another.
This article will find out what are these problematic foods, the problems they can cause and possible solutions.
Let’s get started!
Nightshades are a group of botanical plants from the Solanaceae family (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanaceae). This group includes fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even trees.
Nightshades contain chemical compounds called alkaloids. These alkaloids act as a natural pesticide to keep insects and mould away from the plants. But, unfortunately, these substances in large doses can harm us and result in prolonged inflammation.
Saponins, another molecule found in nightshades, can create an exaggerated response from the immune system, which could cause an autoimmune disorder; how do they do this? The saponins create small openings in cell membranes that allow food and other substances that don’t belong into the body to get through the gut lining.
But there is more; nightshades also contain calcitriol, a potent hormone that in high amounts can result in calcium deposits in the body’s soft tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, and kidneys. This calcification may play a role in osteoarthritis and coronary artery disease.
Some of the most common nightshades include:
- White Potatoes
- Cayenne Pepper
- Goji berries
Solutions: if you have an autoimmune condition, I strongly recommend avoiding nightshades, including tobacco. And even if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, opt for some of the replacements listed below and enjoy the nightshades once in a while.
- For potatoes: Sweet potatoes
- For tomatoes: blueberries and pineapple
- Peppers: Cucumber, radishes, and carrots
- Eggplant: Portobello mushrooms and zucchini have a similar texture
- Paprika and Cayenne Spices: white and black pepper, ginger, garlic, and onion.
Salicylate is a natural chemical found in plants. This chemical helps the plans protect themselves against disease, bacteria, fungi and insects; remember that the plans can’t run away! Salicylates are the major ingredient in aspirin, cough medicines, and acne lotions. They can be beneficial to human health unless you have a sensitivity to them.
The root cause of sensitivity is an inability to metabolize these chemicals and effectively remove them from the body. As a result, sensitive people, when they eat foods containing salicylates, may have symptoms of nasal polyps, bronchial asthma, rhinitis, gastrointestinal inflammation, diarrhoea, headaches, or hives.
Some of the most common foods high in salicylate include:
- Pine nuts
Solutions: as you can see, the list is long and includes lots of different foods. The best way to be sure you have a salicylate sensitivity is to eat as little as possible of the foods on this list for a month or two, and then slowly start adding the foods to see how you feel and which ones are causing you issues.
You may be familiar with histamine as the may source of allergies seasons. Still, you may not know that many foods naturally contain histamine and can trigger histamine release in the body, causing similar symptoms.
Histamines are chemicals in your body produced in response to allergens, part of a healthy, balanced immune system. Problems arrive when there is a dysfunction or deficiency of the enzymes that break down histamine.
Without the enzymes to effectively get rid of excess histamine, you could experience a histamine overflow, which can cause many problems such as rash, trouble breathing, runny nose, brain fog, digestive problems, eczema, fatigue, etc., irritability and even low sex drive. Sounds like fun, right? If you typically experience any of these symptoms after eating high histamine foods, you may have histamine intolerance.
Some of the most common foods high in histamine:
- Canned foods
- Matured cheeses
- Fermented food (kefir, kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut)
- Legumes (soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts)
- Smoked meat products
- Long-stored nuts – e.g. peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pistachio
- Chocolates and other cocoa-based products
- Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings
- Leftovers (particularly pork, soy and fish)
Solutions: the first step is to determine which foods create a problem for you; that’s why you must track your symptoms after eating. Also, avoid leftovers and opt for low histamine foods such as coconut milk, egg yolk, wild-caught fish, organic meat, and fresh vegetables (except eggplants, tomatoes, and spinach) gluten-free grains. Here is an app to help you tracking https://apps.apple.com/app/id419098758
The last ones on our list are antinutrients. I have a whole article on antinutrients, and I strongly recommend reading it to understand the problems they can cause.
We can find thousands of diets, inspiration and nutrition tips online, but nobody can tell you what will work for your body. Of course, it is important to be aware of the foods you eat, their quality and their nutritional value, but how you feel after you eat is the KEY to determine if the foods you love eating so much love you back!