If you’re one of the 7.5 million Americans living with psoriasis, you know there’s nothing comfortable about the itchy, scaly skin that accompanies the skin condition. And the disease isn’t just hard to deal with; it’s also difficult to treat. However, there is some good news: Some foods may help ease your symptoms.
While there is no strong research in favor of a “psoriasis diet,” many experts recommend certain healthy foods to lower the inflammation that comes with the disease. These foods also reduce your odds of other health dangers related to psoriasis, such as heart disease and diabetes. If you’re looking to alleviate psoriasis symptoms, discover which foods you should pile on your plate -- and which to leave off.
Foods To Eat:
The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) recommends a heart-healthy diet not only to alleviate inflammation, but also to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Research has shown that people suffering from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have higher chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Fish fights both inflammation and heart disease with its high omega-3 fatty acid content. The NPF recommends eating fish twice a week, so make room on your plate for some savory salmon, trout or herring.
Omega-3’s aren’t just found in fatty fish – they also come in capsule form. Though results have been mixed, some studies have found that fish oil supplements shrink psoriasis skin patches, and they may help with symptoms like itching, redness and scaling. Check with your doctor before taking high dosages, though. Here's what to look for when buying fish oil supplements.
Whole grains are another food group that help fight psoriasis in two ways. One: Swapping out refined carbs in favor of whole grains, packed with vitamins and fiber, is a smart way to reduce inflammation. Two: Choosing whole grains can help you control your weight, and some research suggests that shedding excess pounds can improve psoriasis symptoms. Shun white rice and regular pasta, and opt for oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa instead. Discover what your daily intake of whole grains should be.
A side note: Studies have hinted that a sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains, could contribute to psoriasis in some people. Some (but not all) research found that a gluten-free diet can reduce symptoms. If you think you might be sensitive to gluten, ask your doctor if a three-month trial of a gluten-free diet is worth a try.
Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
While there are no studies linking fruits and vegetables specifically to a reduction in psoriasis symptoms, the NPF says they’re a key part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Bursting with antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber, vegetables and fruits are health superheroes. For the biggest benefits, include foods from across the rainbow: blueberries, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, oranges, strawberries and cherries.
Foods to Avoid:
Fatty Red Meats
Read meat is an inflammation and swelling culprit. A diet heavy on fatty red meats promotes heart disease, and people with psoriasis have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. It’s best to steer clear of red and fatty meats altogether or go for leaner options that aren’t as bad on your body. Check out these alternatives to red meat.
It’s well-known that heavy drinking increases the risk—and probably the severity—of psoriasis, though experts aren’t sure how. Alcohol can also make psoriasis treatment less effective and can interact dangerously with certain medications. Also, excessive drinking is usually accompanied by a poor diet, which may promote psoriasis flares. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to drink at all, and if so, do it in moderation—that means no more than one drink each day for women, two for men.
In addition to improving your diet, regular exercise, topical creams and medications may help improve your psoriasis. Visit our Psoriasis Topic Center to get more tips to live easier and better manage the condition.