Wellness & Education

Are Peppers and Tomatoes Bad for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

When you have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, it’s only natural to look for a connection between your symptoms and what you eat. In some cases, science and word-of-mouth agree with one another. In other cases they disagree. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis and a diet of nightshades, there is no clear answer.  

Nightshades, or Solanaceae, are members of a plant family that includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and white potatoes. All nightshades contain alkaloid compounds that help them fight off insect attacks. These same compounds are thought to cause inflammation in some people, which would make a disease like rheumatoid arthritis worse. Unfortunately, the research is not clear. Perhaps nightshades increase rheumatoid arthritis pain and perhaps they don’t. Since these plants are so full of nutrients, is it really worthwhile to avoid them when we aren’t sure of their effect?   

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.