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Nightshade Vegetables & Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Are These "Healthy" Foods Making You Worse?

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Updated June 13, 2014

Nightshade Vegetables & Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In my recent Food of the Week series, we've discussed a couple of foods that are part of the nightshade family.  Some people expressed concerns about that, so I thought it was a good idea to discuss these kinds of foods.

The nightshade family encompasses some common fruits and vegetables, including:

  • Potatoes (but not sweet potatoes)
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet & hot peppers
  • Ground cherries (a small orange fruit somewhat similar to a tomato)
  • Goji berries

For years, many doctors and patients have said that nightshade vegetables aggravate arthritis symptoms, and this belief has spread to other conditions as well, including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, research has failed to show any link between nightshades and symptoms.

Of course, research doesn't have all the answers -- it could well be that a subgroup of people is sensitive to the suspect chemical in these foods, glycoalkaloids, and it's just not common enough to show up significantly in studies.

The bottom line is that some people have a problem with nightshades while others don't, just like some people have a problem with sugar, caffeine, alcohol or gluten that others don't. The only way to know for sure how foods impact your symptoms is to experiment and pay close attention. One great tool for that is the elimination diet, and it also helps if you keep a detailed food/symptom diary. You can find out more about those here:

Learn more or join the conversation!

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