Three Common Food Sensitivities You’ve Never Even Heard Of

Guest blogger and Brisbane Naturopath and Wellness Centre nutritionist—Bri Clancy Olins—is talking to us this month about three food groups that might be causing your symptoms. Read on to find out what common, everyday foods could be the culprits.

If you experience symptoms that can’t be explained, like hives or foggy brain or you just don’t feel quite right, you might be suffering from lesser known—but not less common or less limiting—food sensitivities that you didn’t realise were affecting you.

Keep in mind that I don’t recommend removing entire food groups from your diet without good reason. This is not a fear-mongering piece. Take it away, digest it, and if you think you need further assistance, the practitioners at Brisbane Naturopaths and Wellness Centre are ready and waiting.


The nightshades are a family of plants also known as Solanaceae, Nightshades contain alkaloid compounds which can cause inflammation throughout the body. They can be problematic for autoimmune conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, leaky gut, and other chronic conditions.

Which common foods are nightshades?

  • White potato
  • Tomato
  • Capsicum
  • Chilli
  • Eggplant
  • Paprika and cayenne
  • Goji berry
  • Tomatillo
  • Gooseberry
  • Tobacco

Symptoms of nightshade sensitivity

Symptoms can vary greatly person to person and even food to food, but can include gas and bloating, diarrhoea, joint pain, hives and itching, heartburn and regular flare ups of inflammatory health conditions like the ones I mentioned above.


Salicylates are compounds containing salicylic acid. They are found in many foods, medications, and personal-care products. The symptoms of salicylate sensitivity mirror those of other allergies such as hay fever and may often be misdiagnosed.

Which foods contain salicylates?

Salicylates are found in many food groups, which makes it increasingly hard to avoid them. Here are the most common foods containing salicylates:

  • Most fruits (aside from banana and pears)
  • Capsicum
  • Zucchini
  • Chilli
  • Radish
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Most spices and dried herbs
  • Tea
  • Alcohol

Symptoms of salicylate sensitivity

As I mentioned earlier, the symptoms of salicylate sensitivity are often synonymous with hay-fever symptoms – watery eyes and excess mucous, itching, and sinus issues. Salicylates can also cause digestive and abdominal pain and diarrhoea. We often see salicylate sensitivity in people diagnosed with asthma.


Oxalates are often known as an anti-nutrient, as they tend to bind up some important nutrients in foods, which stops them from being absorbed. Sensitivity occurs in your body when the oxalates themselves are not detoxified from the body, allowing them to build up in the tissues. A low-oxalate diet is often recommended for joint conditions including arthritis and gout and for children on the spectrum.

Denaturing oxalates

Cooking can often denature the oxalates, making the nutrients more readily absorbed, but if you are particularly sensitive to oxalates, cooking may not be enough.

Which foods contain oxalates?

Oxalates are found in plant-food sources, including:

  • Leafy greens
  • Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, broccoli, sprouts, etc)
  • Green beans
  • White and sweet potato
  • Wheat and wheat-based foods
  • Blueberries
  • Figs
  • Lemons
  • Strawberries
  • Nuts, including almonds, peanuts, and cashews

Symptoms of oxalate sensitivity

Symptoms of oxalate intolerance can include sore or swollen joints, rashes and itching, digestive upset, fibromyalgia, and behavioural or mood issues.

What do I do if I think I have a food sensitivity?

The world of elimination diets—and varying reactions to different foods—can be extremely overwhelming. Having the support and expertise of a practitioner will reduce the amount of stabbing around in the dark you will do, and take the weight of planning a protocol off your shoulders.

We’re here to help!

You can book online with one of the naturopaths or nutritionists at Brisbane Naturopaths and Wellness Centre for a full consultation, plus food-sensitivity functional testing (which is much quicker and easier than an elimination diet). With your baseline case history—and the results of your functional testing—you can move forward with tailored recommendations and practical advice that you can follow with confidence.

Bri x