Nightshade foods are members of the solanaceae family, and they contain an acid compound called solanine. Some people believe solanine exacerbates the inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease. The connection has not yet been proven scientifically. However, individuals among the more than two million living with RA have reported symptom relief after removing nightshades from their diets. If you have noticed a connection between eating nightshades and experiencing worse RA pain, you may want to consider removing nightshades from your diet on a trial basis. Always talk with your doctor before you make a significant change to your eating habits. Know Your Nightshades Nightshade foods include fruits, vegetables, and spices such as the following. Eggplant Paprika Red bell peppers Sweet and hot peppers Tomatoes White potatoes In addition to solonine, nightshade foods contain many nutrients, an important consideration to weigh before removing nightshades from your diet. Monitor All Your Food Triggers While the link between nightshades and RA has not been proven, a growing body of research shows diet has a bigger impact on forms of arthritis, including RA, than previously thought. In one study, arthritis sufferers identified these foods as the top foods making their RA worse: Whole milk Red meat Sugar Fats Salt Caffeine Nightshade plants Once an arthritis sufferer stopped eating the foods he or she believed to worsen RA symptoms, the symptoms improved within a few weeks. To understand if you have any food triggers, try keeping a food diary to record: What you ate How much you ate When you ate, including the date and time Where you ate (at home, the office, a restaurant) Remember to include beverages such as soda and condiments such as salt and catsup. Also write down when your symptoms get worse or better. Watch for patterns and talk with your doctor about what you discover. More Food Choices That Show Promise for RA Symptom Relief Scientific studies have indicated that the following dietary changes may help ease RA symptoms: Adding omega-3 supplements Drinking green tea Eating nuts and seeds Using extra virgin olive oil Reducing fat while removing meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy (vegan diet) Removing gluten in addition to a vegan diet These foods are commonly accepted as being in the “safety zone”. They have not been linked to worsening RA symptoms: Brown rice Cooked green, yellow, and orange vegetables, including sweet potatoes Some cooked or dried fruits, including cherries, cranberries and pears The Arthritis Foundation recommends avoiding these foods because they may increase inflammation: Saturated fats, such as those in fried foods and margarine Omega-6 fatty acids, including corn, safflower, soy, sunflower and vegetable oils Sugar Salt Alcohol Remember, everyone is different, and different people have seen different connections between their diet and their RA pain. The amount of dietary information available may feel overwhelming, so start by recording the connections you see in your current routine. Your doctor is your best partner in identifying your personal triggers and helping determine the best next steps for you.