Beware! Whilst there are definitively UNhealthy foods eg: refined sugar, some "heathy" foods need to be taken in context of you!
Tomatoes. You’ve probably heard about its wonderful health benefits! Its been cited as a major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, and this low-carb, low-calorie fruit/ veg is a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
In articles littered over the internet, there are both well-researched claims and tenuous suggestions that tomatoes can be protective for cardiovascular health, lycopene may protect against cataracts and it could boost pro-collagen and firm up your skin. There was even a small blurb I read that stated that it may help with digestion and keeping regular as “one large tomato contains 6 ounces (177ml) of fluid, and 1.5 grams of fiber”.
This was a bit of a stretch for me. A claim hiding behind numbers. So, before I move on, let’s quickly dissect that one. According to Food Standards Australia, at 1.5g of fibre, that means a serve of one large tomato meets the qualifying criteria for nutrition content claims to be labelled “a source” of fibre. Not a “good source” or “very high/ excellent source”, but just “a source”.
In medical practice, I no longer ask my patients if they “have a good diet”. And I no longer just nod and smile when I am told enthusiastically that they “eat really healthy”. One person’s health food is another person’s disaster. Tomatoes are a great example.
The majority of people are able to consume tomatoes with no issues. Certainly I think those Italians are probably doing ok. However, with our globalised, varied diet where we can eat out of season (and out of continent), do you know for certain what your vague symptoms of dis-ease are due to? That headache despite drinking a pint of water, a bit of bloat after lunch or just feeling a bit flat despite everything being ok? Don't put up with it!
Histamine is a natural chemical in our body which is best known for inducing the hayfever reaction- itchy eyes, runny nose, rash. It is also a neurotransmitter (messenger in your brain and spinal chord) which affects metabolism and appetite, regulating various hormones, controlling the sleep-wake cycle and it also helps regulate acid production in your stomach.
Outside of a cut and dry allergic reaction, the tomato gods did not smile benevolently upon several other groups of people. Potentially, this could include people who are atopic (have one or more of the triad of asthma/ hayfever/ eczema) and have a histamine intolerance, people who might be sensitive to the alkaloids found in the nightshade (solanaceae) group of plants (which also includes potatoes and eggplants), people who are allergic to latex and, with respect to tomato sauce/ pasta, people who cannot tolerate FODMAPS or salicylates.
So if you identify with any of the above and you have not found a definitive diagnosis for symptoms like persistent fatigue, migraines, vertigo, unexplained anxiety, gastrointestinal pain, bloating, recurring infections, intermittent tinnitus or hearing problems, then pay close attention to how you feel after food. Too many of us accept not feeling great a large percentage of the time. We need to prioritise more mindfulness and take control of our health. Should you find out you are sensitive to tomatoes (or any other foods for that matter!), that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut it out of your life! Talk to your health practitioner, or come see me, to figure out if you are indeed sensitive and how we might mitigate its effects. Expectation management is important and going in with your eyes open means you’re taking ownership of your own health and wellbeing and making informed decisions.