With so much information about food, diets and lifestyle on the internet, it has 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 your diet, 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 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? First, the saponins create tiny openings in cell membranes that allow food and other substances that don’t belong in 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, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tobacco, paprika and goji berries.
Solutions: if you have an autoimmune condition, I strongly recommend avoiding or minimizing the consumption of nightshades, including tobacco, as much as possible. And even if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, opt for some of the replacements, such as sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, zucchini and portobello mushrooms instead of eggplant and enjoy the nightshades once in a while.
Salicylate is a natural chemical found in plants. This chemical helps the plants protect themselves against disease, bacteria, fungi and insects; remember that the plants can’t run away! Salicylates are the primary ingredient in aspirin, cough medicines, and acne lotions. They can be beneficial to human health unless you are sensitive to them.
The root cause of sensitivity is an inability to metabolize and effectively remove these chemicals from the body. As a result, sensitive people may have symptoms of nasal polyps, bronchial asthma, rhinitis, gastrointestinal inflammation, diarrhoea, headaches, or hives when they eat foods containing salicylates.
Some of the most common foods high in salicylate include avocados, apples, coffee, dates, grapes and mushrooms.
Solutions: as you can see, the list is long and includes many 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 it may be a source of allergy season. 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 eliminate 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 include alcohol, eggplant, fermented foods, smoked meats, chocolate, seitan, leftovers (especially fish, soy and pork), legumes and matured cheeses.
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, fresh vegetables (except eggplants, tomatoes, and spinach) and gluten-free grains. Here is an app to help you track 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 essential 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 determining if the foods you love eating so much love you back!