Tomato probably is the funniest veggie out there. Though some of us might avoid tomato, for many of us, it is an essential part of the regular diet. Any sort of salad is practically incomplete without tomato slices. Tomato has its benefits too, it is a good source of water, gives a unique glow to the skin, is extremely useful in losing weight, etc.
One can not have too many of these little red balls, but apparently, you can. Research says that tomato contains ‘Lycopene’ which if consumed in high amount can cause problems. Tomatoes are not only healthy guys. There are many harmful side effects of tomatoes you must know.
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Lycopene In Tomato
Lycopene is the bright red photopigment found in tomatoes also known as carotene and carotenoid pigment. It normally has a role in photosynthesis for plants. In humans, it is supposed to have some cancer-protective nature. This cancer protective nature of lycopene is mere speculations which haven’t been proven yet.
On the other hand excess of this certain photopigment is known to cause lycopenodermia, not a harmful condition. Lycopene also messes with digestive tract making certain conditions worse. A potential side effect of tomato.
Side Effects Of Tomatoes
· Impaired Immune Response
Human body’s immune response is very strong. Meaning no amount of lycopene is gonna affect it much in normal condition. It’s the autoimmune conditions which need to look out for. Lycopene is a known T helper cell type 2 modulator, it stimulates Th2 cell activity. Th2 cells are mainly involved in humoral immunity, the one involving antibodies.
Certain autoimmune diseases are Th2 dominant meaning Th2 cells are directly or indirectly responsible for them. In these diseases, excessive tomato eating will ultimately set off autoimmune reaction and worsen the condition. So these individuals need to watch out their tomato intake. A few examples of these diseases is Asthma, Autism, Uveitis, Grave’s disease, etc.
· Heartburn Due To Tomatoes
Tomatoes have a fair amount of Citric acid but it also contains a huge amount of water which normally take cares of acidity if any. Still, in cases of GERD – gastroesophageal reflux disease, where gastric acid spills in esophagus causing extreme heartburn, this small amount of citric acid can matter especially when you are eating tomatoes in excess.
Heartburn is a symptom where the patient complains of burning pain in mid-chest. In the usual scenario, it is resolved with antacids. In cases with GERD symptoms, persist often needs medical attention. High consumption of tomatoes can cause gastric reflux in GERD patients precipitating unusual heartburn. This is a common side effect of tomato if consumed in a higher amount.
· Nutritional Deficiency
Though tomato does not cause any significant nutritional deficiency, but it is observed that people consuming a huge amount of tomatoes, avoid having other fruits or any meals at all. This lack of attention can cause a nutritional deficiency in these people.
Tomato may be rich in antioxidant, water and a few vitamins but it lacks essential dietary nutrients. Tomatoes are deficient in certain micronutrients plus you are not gonna get any carb, protein or fat from tomatoes.
In the absence of protein and carbs, your muscle will start wasting, you will start getting weaker. You will not lose any weight but you will soon start missing your muscles. So, while it is good that you are opting for a healthy diet you should also fulfill your daily protein and carb requirement. So, umm, side effect of tomatoes? Won’t you agree?
This is probably the first and most common symptom you will observe if you are having an excess intake tomato and thereby lycopene. This word is self-explanatory – lycopene + dermis – meaning a skin condition caused by lycopene. Indeed it is the yellowish-orange discoloration of skin following large tomato intake. This side effect of tomato is seen in people who consume a lot of them.
It is a harmless condition seen in females drinking excess tomato juice. It is resolved within a few days by consuming a tomato-free diet for a few days. If you start having this color change you should better stop a tomato-rich diet before it progresses to anything worse.
· Urinary Stones
80% of urinary stones or kidney stone are made up of calcium oxalate, rest are made up of calcium phosphate, struvite, uric acid, etc. Tomato seeds are known to contain a fair amount of oxalates which normally is not enough to cause any problem much less the kidney stones.
In dehydration or when your daily water intake is insignificant, a large tomato consumption may load up oxalate in your system which when combined with calcium can precipitate kidney stone. Though this is a long shot, why take the risk. Take a regular amount of tomato in your diet, it will be much more beneficial.
· Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a group of symptoms relating to the gastrointestinal tract. Although the cause of IBS is unknown yet it is known to be triggered by food sensitivity, infections, stress, gut motility, etc. Immunomodulatory nature of lycopene is also stipulated as one of the reasons for its association with IBS.
Also as an irritant, it can set off IBS. Thus, tomato consumption can be a factor in triggering Irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely from person to person, presenting as diarrhea in some and constipation in others. Other symptoms include bloating, abdominal distention, indigestion, etc.
· Acute GI Conditions.
Acute gastrointestinal conditions are those which present on short notice and require emergent attention. This condition is present with severe abdominal pain and often needs surgery. A few of these conditions can be credited to small tomato seeds. These conditions are appendicitis and diverticulitis.
The diverticulum is a sac-like projection in the large bowel which gets inflamed when small food particle like tomato seeds get stuck in these diverticula. The same thing happens with appendix. Due to a narrow neck, these food particles cannot get out of the base and attract infection. With time inflammation becomes an acute abdomen.
This has nothing to do with excess tomato ingestion. It is just an unfortunate accident, but tomato seeds, being small, can cause this. So, not such a big side effect of tomato.
· Allergy Due To Tomato
We discussed above that lycopene is a strong humoral immunity modulator. It acts by stimulating T2 helper cells. This if happens in excess can be a cause of allergies. Excess lycopene consumption either as a tomato or in other form sets off a chain reaction leading to excess antibody production which in a susceptible individual can be a cause of allergy or can trigger a previously diagnosed allergy.
Often IgE mediated allergies are associated with excess tomato consumption. A few of these are a seasonal allergy – presenting commonly in winter, hay fever – watery eyes with a stuffy nose, urticaria – excessive itching with rash and others. This is not a very common side effect of tomato but if someone already has a condition then it can worsen.
· Not So Good For Skin?
Tomatoes are a rich source of water and antioxidant. Antioxidant delays the eventual aging of the skin and also cleanses the skin of toxic product. The citric acid in tomato is known to naturally whiten the skin, acting as a bleach. So, where do things go wrong here?
Despite all of its benefits to skin, citric acid is a photosensitizing agent, making it vulnerable to UVA rays. Excess lycopene in the skin is also known to harm skin after UVA exposure. Both of these together can cause rashes on your skin if certain precautions are not followed. A few of these precautions are:
- Do not leave tomato face pack on for too long on your face.
- Rinse your face thoroughly before and after using tomatoes topically on your face.
- Don’t stay out in sunlight for too long after applying the tomato face pack.
- Use tomato smartly not excessively while making a face pack. Add a little Vitamin E for UVA protection.
Tomato Leaf Poisonous?
Enough about tomato, you know what else is harmful to you? Those green tomato leaves you sometimes see hanging at the base of tomato. If you are growing tomatoes in your home garden beware of them. These tomato leaves are not a cause of poisoning but might present conditions as headache, dizziness, irritation in your throat, vomiting and if enough of these leaves goes in your system you may even collapse. So, never take a chance with these leaves.
Now that we have discussed every possible side effect of tomatoes, Let me tell you one thing, tomatoes, in general, are beneficial for normal people like only a few of us need to take care while eating tomatoes.
These side effects of tomatoes need a huge consumption to set off. Some individual, like those trying to lose weight are prone for such side effects and of course those who try to live on salads. Everyone else like you and me is practically safe. Choose wisely.
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