When you have a difficult and complicated disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, it’s common to look for a connection between your symptoms and what you eat. In some cases, science can pinpoint a concrete link, or explanation, that verifies word-of-mouth reports. In other cases, research rejects any link. In some instances, there is no clear answer.
When it comes to reports of an association between increased rheumatoid arthritis pain and eating nightshades, there does not appear to be a clear answer.
Nightshades, or Solanaceae, include many plants, but the ones most commonly eaten in the United States are tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and white potatoes. All nightshades contain alkaloid compounds that help them fight off insect attacks. These same compounds are thought to promote inflammation in some people. Unfortunately, the research is not clear. Since these plants are so full of nutrients, is it really worthwhile to avoid them?
The best advice is probably to see for yourself whether or not you notice a link. Try going without these foods and see how you feel. Take notes on what you eat, as well as when and where you eat it, as you avoid these foods. Make note of any increase or decrease in your pain. Then put them back in your diet and keep the same records again.
This will not duplicate a scientific study, but it may help you decide for yourself whether or not to give up your salsa.