45% of the population suffer with a food intolerance. The ones we hear about most are Wheat, Milk, Gluten, Egg and Yeast (which are already well catered for in the supermarkets with their “Free From” ranges of foods). In December 2005 labelling laws ruled that the top 14 allergens had to be listed on all food products. Unfortunately tomato is not one of them.
GP’s are not always trained in Allergy and 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 is not recognised at all on the NHS and there is no official testing for this. The Gold Standard way would be a referral to a dietician who has an interest in intolerance to help plan a food elimination diet.
Ally’s range of tomato free sauces have been especially formulated for the growing number of people who have chosen for positive health reasons or been forced through allergy or illness to exclude tomatoes (or all nightshades) from their diet. 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, finding that eliminating them helps alleviate a variety of problems (including mental, emotional and physical). The following groups of people may benefit from avoiding nightshades:
1. PEOPLE WITH ARTHRITIS – Some researchers believe that arthritis is misdiagnosed in people who are in fact just suffering joint aches and swelling arising from consumption of nightshades. 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 also associated with tomato consumption.
2. MACROBIOTICS – since the 1960s, the macrobiotic diet has recommended avoidance of all nightshades. This proven diet for health and longevity is followed by celebrities such as Sadie Frost, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Madonna.
3. CHILDREN WITH ECZEMA – for some children the elimination of nightshades from the diet helps clear eczema, particularly around the mouth.
4. 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 with symptoms of heartburn, chest pain, choking while lying down and asthma symptoms when sleeping.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. CYSTITIS, LUPUS, PSORIASIS– giving up nightshades can help relieve symptoms of cystitis, lupus and psoriasis.
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.
One cause of allergic reactions to tomatoes can be due to these salicylates. 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 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 is no longer needed so it is broken down by an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase and recycled.
• Solanine (or tomatine from tomatoes) slows the production of this acetylcholinesterase, so acetylcholine isn’t broken down as fast as it’s being 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.
For a diet that seeks to maintain a strong and healthy nervous and neuromuscular system there is considerable evidence that the safest approach is to avoid nightshade vegetables and to eat food that is grown without the use of carbamate or organophosphate pesticides, i.e. organic food. Before the discovery of chemical pesticides, nicotine was a widely used insecticide. It kills insects in the same way, but chemical sprays are cheaper and longer-lasting. Until they were replaced by hormones and antibiotics, organophosphate pesticides were also used by livestock farmers as growth-promoters – the mechanism whereby they cause muscle weakness and increase secretions of digestive fluids also causes animals to exercise less and eat more, thereby 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 gagging 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 mild increase in energy level is achieved, along with a reduced nervous sensitivity; producing a combination of calmness and stimulation. This provides short term relief in the face of the stresses and pressures of modern life. In the longer term it puts a strain on the nervous system as the receptors are being overstimulated.
Always seek further 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 for parents to read and use.