Food and Psoriasis: Eat This, Not That
Last updated: December 2021
While no scientific research has definitively linked the food you eat to psoriasis flare-ups, many patients report that cutting out certain drinks and foods can reduce symptoms. With any diet, everyone responds differently so always talk to your doctor before making big changes.
Taking a look at psoriasis food triggers
According to a 2017 survey conducted by The National Psoriasis Foundation, the most common reported food triggers were sugar, alcohol, gluten, red meat, and dairy. Less commonly reported triggers included processed foods, soda, bread, eggs, and spicy foods.1
Here’s a breakdown of some of the more common food triggers:
Diets rich in sugar lead to an imbalance in the gut's microbial culture and may contribute to inflammation.
Alcohol opens blood vessels in the skin. When blood vessels are dilated, T cells that are believed to be behind psoriasis can more easily enter the outer layers of your skin, causing flares. While every person is different and what affects one may not affect another, it can’t hurt to dial back on the booze.
Red meat contains arachidonic acid. Studies have found that the skin of people with psoriasis contains high levels of compounds called leucotrienes, which cause inflammation. Leukotrienes are produced from arachidonic acid in the body. Arachidonic acid is found in animal fat. So tell those meats to MOO-ve out of the way.
Dairy products also contain arachidonic acid. A 2017 study suggested that the arachidonic acid in dairy products may irritate the intestinal tract's inner lining and worsen psoriasis symptoms.2
Foods that could improve your symptoms
That same study also reported dietary items that may improve psoriasis. This included consumption of dietary supplements - fish oil/omega-3, vegetables, fruits, water, and fish.
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that Omega-3 improved people’s psoriasis symptoms in 12 out of 15 trials.3 This included improvements in the reddening of skin, scaling, itchiness, and inflammation. The study suggests that when taken orally, omega-3 was most effective over a period of 3 months or longer.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which are compounds that decrease oxidative stress and inflammation. Greens such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, and spinach are a great addition to any diet. As for fruit, try some berries or cherries. Yum!
You can’t really go wrong with the water. According to Short Hills Dermatology, “The skin is the first line of defense our body has against the elements. When the skin is adequately hydrated, it increases the body’s ability to naturally detox. The skin also stays plump, healthy, and youthful in appearance.
When patients are fighting conditions such as psoriasis, hydration can be used to keep the skin moisturized and decrease flare-ups for those who experience psoriasis and other skin conditions.”4
Diets That Work
The three diets with the highest patient-reported positive response were the Pagano, vegan, and Paleolithic diets. Other diets that patients report to improve their psoriasis include gluten-free, low carbohydrate–high protein, Mediterranean, and vegetarian diets.
Have you noticed a link between what you eat and an increase in symptoms? What have you found that works or doesn't work for you?
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