Since stepping whole heartedly into The Autoimmune Protocol way of eating, one of the foods I've said goodbye to (hopefully just for now) is the humble white potato.
It seems that white potatoes are part of what is called the nightshade vegetable family - a family of plants that have certain characteristics in common. Did you know tobacco is a nightshade? The reason they're problematic is due to their lectin, saponin and/or capsaicin content (see more info here), and overconsumption can actually be harmful. Yes, it’s true that lectins can be found in all plants, and yes it is also true that not all lectins are harmful, however the lectins which are avoided within the AIP diet are the ones with the ability to increase intestinal permeability - leaky gut (see more info on that here).
What I've discovered - for those of us suffering the effects of food sensitivities, autoimmune disease and/or leaky gut syndrome, there is a big fat chance that these nightshade vegetables could also be contributing to our ill health. Yes, there is no doubt that they are wonderful healthy vegetables full of nutrients, and for most people they're not an issue, however for those lucky few of us, they can act as a trigger causing immune reactions just like wheat and dairy can. Some of the specific signs of nightshade intolerance include joint pain, acid reflux and heartburn, digestive issues, reddening of the skin.
A comprehensive list of the nightshade family of vegetables, thanks to The Paleo Mom, include:
- Capsicum/Bell peppers
- Bush tomato
- Cape gooseberry
- Garden huckleberry (not to be confused with regular huckleberries)
- Goji berries
- Hot peppers (chili, jalapenos, habaneros, chili-based spices, red pepper, cayenne)
- Potatoes (but not sweet potatoes)
Saying goodbye to potatoes was both a hard and an easy thing to do. Hard because I'm a big potato lover - mashed, roasted or chipped! Easy because I only ate them every so often.
So for those "every so often" moments, I've been enjoying these AIP friendly, white potato alternatives:
Want more in-depth reading on nightshades - see here!