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Foods That May Help Prevent PsA Flareups

Making good diet choices can go a long way toward lessening psoriatic arthritis symptoms.

A woman smiles, eating a healthy meal as part of her psoriatic arthritis diet, avoiding foods that trigger flareups.

Medically reviewed in September 2022

Updated on September 30, 2022

If you’re living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you probably wonder if there’s something more you can do to tame the pain. Here’s a suggestion: Consider whether you’re eating foods that could be helping—or exacerbating—your condition. 

Psoriatic arthritis is all about inflammation, so the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) suggests trying an anti-inflammatory menu. To be clear, studies haven’t found that eating these foods will cure PsA, but the NPF says it may help people manage their symptoms—and it’s healthy overall, to boot. 

Including foods that may help reduce inflammation as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet can also help with weight management. Being overweight or obese is linked to worse PsA symptoms. Carrying extra pounds may influence the effectiveness of treatments, as well. 

To start, avoid or limit foods known to worsen inflammation, such as fatty red meats, refined sugar, and processed foods. Instead, stock your pantry and fridge with smart choices, such as the following. 

A quick note: Any time you make big changes to your eating plan, you should speak with a healthcare provider (HCP) about whether it’s the right choice for you. Remember, too, that a healthy diet is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Fish
Many experts consider cold-water, fatty fish to be anti-inflammatory superstars because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Two fatty acids in particular, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acid and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid, not only help protect the heart—especially important for people with inflammatory diseases like PsA—but also may help curb chronic pain and joint stiffness. So, opt for fish such as albacore tuna, mackerel, salmon, herring, and lake trout. 

Walnuts
You can also get omega-3s from plant-based foods. Research shows that walnuts are especially antioxidant-rich and may help ease inflammation.

Need more plant-based options? Flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybean oil, canola oil, and certain fortified products are all good sources of omega-3s, as well. 

Colorful fruits and veggies
Your body is going through a lot of stress, especially if you’ve just had a recent flareup. So even though “eat your fruits and veggies” may not sound like groundbreaking advice, it may be one of your best lines of defense. Produce is loaded with vitamins and disease-fighting antioxidants that provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to help keep inflammation in check. 

According to the NPF, your best anti-inflammatory bets include leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collards. The organization also recommends eating fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, oranges, and cherries. 

There is some anecdotal evidence that PsA symptoms may be aggravated by nightshade vegetables, which include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. Scientific research doesn’t confirm this theory. 

If you suspect, however, that certain foods might be triggering flare-ups, consider tracking your symptoms and eating patterns in a food diary. An HCP can help you sort out your findings and suggest substitutions.

Article sources open article sources

National Psoriasis Foundation. What’s the Deal with the Anti-Inflammatory Diet? Page last reviewed December 27, 2020.
Arthritis Foundation. How Fat Affects PsA. Accessed September 30, 2022.
Ford A, Siegel M, et al. Dietary Recommendations for Adults With Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation: A Systematic Review. JAMA Dermatology. 2018, 154 (8), 934-950.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Updated July 18, 2022.
National Psoriasis Foundation. Dietary Modifications. Last updated October 1, 2020.
Horrocks LA, Yeo YK. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res. 1999 Sep;40(3):211-25.
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. 
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. Accessed September 30, 2022.
Vinson JA, Cai Y. Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits. Food Funct. 2012 Feb;3(2):134-40.
Ros E. Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients. 2010 Jul;2(7):652-682. 
Harvard Health Publishing. Foods that fight inflammation. November 16, 2021.
Arthritis Foundation. The Truth About Nightshades and Arthritis. Page last reviewed February 21, 2022.

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