Around 45% of the population suffer with a food allergy or intolerance. The ingredients we hear about most are Wheat, Milk, Gluten, Egg and Yeast. Supermarkets already cater for these their “Free From” ranges of foods. In December 2005 labelling laws ruled that all food products had to have the top 14 allergens listed. Unfortunately tomato allergy is not one of them.
GP’s do not always do allergy training. It can be a battle getting a referral to see an allergist. when you have life threatening problems, there are few clinics and waiting lists can be months. Food Intolerance was not recognised on the NHS until recently. There is still no official method of testing. Use of a food diary followed by referral to a dietician who has an interest in intolerance is a good route to take. They will be able to help plan a food elimination diet to suit your requirements.
So what about tomatoes and these nightshades?
Our tomato free sauces have been specially formulated for people who choose to exclude tomatoes (or all nightshades) from their diet for positive health reasons. All nightshades contain solanine in some form, named as solanine (potatoes), tomatine (tomatoes), alpha-solanine (aubergine) or solanadine (chillies and peppers). They also contain nicotine in small amounts. Nicotine has a synergistic action with solanine as it stimulates the production of acetylcholine (whereas solanine inhibits it). This means that some people may be specifically allergic to tomatoes, but fine with other nightshades.
Nightshade plants include tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, chilli peppers, tobacco and of course the deadly nightshade Atropa Belladona.
There are groups of people who cannot tolerate nightshades in their diets, choosing to avoid them. Eliminating nightshades helps alleviate a variety of problems (including mental, emotional and physical). The following groups of people may benefit from avoiding nightshades:
Who could benefit from avoiding nightshades?
- PEOPLE WITH ARTHRITIS. Some researchers believe that joint aches and swelling arising from consumption of nightshades is misdiagnosed as arthritis. One in three arthritics react badly to nightshades. These individuals frequently have a sensitivity to the solanine chemicals present in these foods. It can take up to six months of exclusion of nightshades from the diet to achieve a beneficial effect. Lupus and Still’s disease are sometimes associated with eating tomatoes.
- MACROBIOTICS – since the 1960s, the macrobiotic diet has recommended avoidance of all nightshades. Celebrities such as Sadie Frost, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Madonna follow this proven diet for health and longevity.
- CHILDREN WITH ECZEMA – for some children the elimination of nightshades from the diet helps clear eczema, particularly around the mouth.
- GASTRO ESOPHOGAL REFLUX DISEASE. Consumption of nightshade vegetables, particularly tomatoes, can causes a reaction where the stomach contents are pushed back up the oesophagus towards the throat. Symptoms of heartburn, chest pain, choking while lying down and asthma when sleeping.
- THOSE QUITTING SMOKING – some programmes to help people give up cigarettes also recommend giving up nightshade foods in order to completely eliminate low level nicotine intake and consequent re-addiction.
- BLOOD GROUP DIET – Dr. Peter d’Adamo’s Blood Type Diet recommends people of blood types A and B to avoid all nightshade foods. This represents about half the population of most European countries.
- CYSTITIS, LUPUS, PSORIASIS– giving up nightshades can help relieve symptoms of cystitis, lupus and psoriasis.
Tomatoes and tomato allergy
Tomatoes in particular contain a high degree of a natural chemical known as salicylate which is related to aspirin and is a derivative of salicylic acid. Some people can not tolerate any amount of salicylate in their diet.
Salicylates can be one cause of allergic reactions to tomatoes. It is important to differentiate between food intolerance and food allergy only in that a full allergy can be fatal whereas intolerance is not. Some people may say that intolerance will present with just mild symptoms, although some sufferers will disagree. Symptoms can include very painful cramps and abdominal contractions, often followed by diarrhoea. Both of which can last for many hours following consumption, therefore disrupting your normal daily routine. As the symptoms are not life threatening, the medical profession often regard them as mild and tend to disregard them altogether leaving the sufferer to fend for themselves. Immediate tomato allergy can be fatal at times causing anaphylactic shock. Symptoms of immediate allergy include tingling lips, swelling face, urticaria (hives), tightening of the chest, difficulty breathing etc.
Tomato allergy can occur in different ways among different people. Some are only allergic to raw tomatoes while others are also allergic to tomatoes in processed food like canned tomato, jam, sauce, pickle, etc.
– Tomatoes were first brought to Europe from Mexico by Cortez and were first cultivated for food in Naples. The British regarded them as poisonous until the 1700s. They contain a powerful form of Solanine called Tomatine which is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor.
So what is solanine, the active alkaloid in nightshades? What are its effects?
What are Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors?
- The chemical that transmits nerve impulses from one nerve ending to the next is acetylcholine. Once it has transmitted a nerve impulse it has done its job and no longer needed. Acetylcholinesterase enzyme breaks down by the acetylcholinesterase enzyme. What is left is recycled.
- Solanine (or tomatine from tomatoes) slows the production of acetylcholinesterase. So acetylcholine isn’t broken down as fast as it is produced.
- Acetylcholine builds up causing a ‘traffic jam’ of stimulation at the receptor nerve endings.
- The nerve endings become overstimulated.
- This overstimulation can lead to muscle weakness, muscle twitching, hypertension, increased intestinal contractions (causing pain, physical discomfort and diarrhoea) and increased secretions of tear, sweat, saliva, gastric and intestinal glands.
- All nightshade foods contain solanine, a strong acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This is what makes excessive consumption of nightshade foods unsuitable for many people.
- Certain pesticides, particularly organophosphate and carbamates, work as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, achieving the same effect as solanine.
There is evidence that for a diet that seeks to maintain a healthy nervous, the safest approach is to avoid nightshade vegetables and to eat organic. Nicotine was a widely used insecticide before the discovery of Organophosphates. It kills insects in the same way, but chemical sprays are cheaper and longer-lasting. Livestock farmers used Organophosphates as growth-promoters until they were replaced by hormones and antibiotics. The mechanism where muscle weakness and increase secretions of digestive fluids causes animals to exercise less and eat more. Thus fattening them up more quickly.
Why do people love Nightshades?
What is it that makes tobacco so addictive? Why is it that sometimes only chips will do, or we are hankering for a pizza? Solanine, by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine, stimulates increased activity of the acetylcholine receptors in the brain and this leads to increased flow of adrenaline. This increases the heart rate, blood pressure and leads to increased blood glucose levels. This gives a reduced nervous sensitivity and mild increase in energy; producing a combination of calmness and stimulation. This provides short term relief in the face of the stresses and pressures of modern life. Long term overstimulation of these receptors puts a strain on the nervous system.
Always seek medical advice if unsure.
The websites that come recommended by us are:
www.anaphylaxis.org.uk– The Anaphylaxis Campaign
www.bsaci.org – The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology
www.allergyuk.org – The leading national charity dedicated to supporting those with allergies
These sites have very good downloadable leaflets relavent to tomato allergy for parents to read and use.