Articles by Natural Health Author Jaime A. Heidel
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Are Tomatoes Stiffening Your Joints?
by Jaime A. Heidel
(The Best Years in Life) If you have arthritis or a similar inflammatory condition, and tomatoes are among your favorite foods, I may have some bad news for you. Tomatoes (as well as other flowering plants in the nightshade family) could be worsening your joint pain and stiffness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five adults has clinically-diagnosed arthritis. The most common treatment protocol for arthritis is a combination of pain relievers and steroids. While these may help relieve the pain for a while, they do not get to the root cause of the arthritis.
Moreover, excessive use of pain relievers can cause dependency and steroids come with a bunch of side effects you'd rather avoid.
Why Your Doctor Hasn't Mentioned Nutrition
Western medicine is largely focused on symptom analysis, family history, diagnosis, and prescription medication. Few conventional doctors are given a thorough education on the connection between nutrition and disease. This is why they rarely bring it up in the exam room.
Yet, time and time again, we hear stories of individuals with debilitating autoimmune diseases putting their conditions into remission simply by removing an offending food (gluten, nightshades) and adding more nutrient-dense foods to help the body heal itself.
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Why Tomatoes May Be Stiffening Your Joints
According to a study published by the University of Otago, tomato consumption increased uric acid levels in study participants with gout.
Then, data was analyzed from 12,720 people who did not have gout and the uric acid levels in their blood also increased.
Uric acid is a chemical created when the body breaks down substances called purines. Purines are found in foods and drinks such as liver, dried beans, dried peas, anchovies, mackerel, and beer.
A healthy person may never feel the effects of uric acid as it dissolves in the blood and travels to the kidneys to be excreted as waste.
However, someone with an autoimmune or kidney disease might not be able to flush enough uric acid from their system. This can lead to a build-up of uric acid, which can cause gout.
What Makes Nightshades So Toxic?
Well, for one, tobacco is a member of the nightshade family, and tobacco contains nicotine. Nicotine is a neurotoxin. This means it is toxic to your brain and nervous system and could be responsible for the symptoms you're experiencing.
Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers also contain small amounts of alkaloid nicotine.
Some nightshade plants also contain another alkaloid toxin called solanine.
Signs of solanine poisoning include:
Other Foods in the Nightshade Family
When you're living with arthritis, it's not just tomatoes you have to watch out for.
When too many nightshade toxins enter the body (or they are not properly broken down and eliminated), they can overwhelm the body and attack the nervous system.
Other nightshade foods include:
Are You Sensitive to Nightshades?
The best way to discover if tomatoes and other nightshade foods are worsening your joint pain is to completely remove them from your diet for six weeks. When that six-week period is up, really load up on the nightshades.
If your symptoms noticeably subsided on the elimination diet and came back with a vengeance when you began eating them again, chances are, you are sensitive to nightshade foods and should avoid them.
After your body heals and you experience less joint pain and inflammation, you may be able to return to eating nightshade foods once in the while. Just remember, nothing tastes as good as pain-free feels!
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