Readers who are familiar with William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” will know that belladonna is a poison. So what does that have to do with potatoes? Everything — and nothing. Both white potatoes and belladonna are from the Solanaceae family, commonly known as nightshades. Red potatoes are also in that family, but sweet potatoes are not.
Belladonna’s berries and leaves are poisonous. However, white and red potatoes are edible, as are other nightshades including eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. Paprika, ashwagandha, and goji berries also belong to the same plant family.
While anecdotal evidence suggests that the consumption of nightshade foods can cause inflammation in the body, no scientific research exists to support this claim.
However, those of us with lupus know that inflammation can lead to increased pain. So it might be worth experimenting to see if nightshades do affect you.
Start by eliminating all nightshades for 30 days. Then pick your favorite and add it back to your diet. Be sure to keep detailed notes about how you feel after you eat each food. If you don’t experience any issues, then add another one and observe how you feel after eating it.
Track your symptoms. Inflammation can cause joint pain, migraines, fatigue, and digestive problems. If you find that a particular nightshade food affects you, you will need to become a detective to prevent it from slipping back into your diet.
Nightshades are hidden in lots of foods. Gluten-free food often contains potato starch, which also is used as a thickener in soups. Paprika, chili peppers, and red pepper flakes are used to spice up many dishes, including my beloved breakfast sausage.
Tomatoes are frequently used to make sauces and seasonings. Spaghetti sauce and chili are my favorites, and I often eat Mexican food, too. I’m not sure how I’m going to find substitutes for all of the tomato-based foods that I like.
I have learned to love sweet potatoes and have a recipe for a delicious sweet potato casserole. So I shouldn’t have much trouble giving up white and red potatoes, except when gravy is on the menu — then I may have to live with the consequences.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.