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Psoriatic Arthritis, Fatigue, and Eating for Energy

How the right approach to eating can help you reduce fatigue from psoriatic arthritis.

There are steps people with PsA can take to improve energy levels and reduce fatigue. One strategy is eating the right foods.

Medically reviewed in July 2022

One of the most difficult aspects of living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is fatigue.

Aside from the fact that painful, swollen joints can make anything much more difficult, there are medications that need to be taken on time, out-of-pocket healthcare costs that need to be covered, and psoriasis symptoms that need attention. (Because psoriatic arthritis is accompanied by psoriasis in most cases, it’s often like contending with two conditions at once).

When you add fatigue and low energy levels into the mix, it gets much harder to manage psoriatic arthritis as well as you want to. It also becomes much harder to do all the things you want to do that exist outside of managing psoriatic disease—work, friends, hobbies, relationships, making the most of the time you have to yourself.

Fatigue may not be totally avoidable—there will be times when you have less energy than you need—but there are steps you can take to improve energy levels and reduce fatigue.

One strategy is eating the right foods.

First things first
If you are experiencing fatigue, talk to your healthcare provider. Because fatigue is common among people who have psoriatic arthritis (and other inflammatory conditions), the connection might seem obvious.

But fatigue can have many, many causes. It can also have multiple contributing factors. For example, fatigue related to psoriatic arthritis can be a result of poor sleep, anemia, and chronic inflammation.

Mental health should be part of the discussion. Your healthcare provider can help you identify what is contributing to fatigue and how to address these factors.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before making any drastic changes to your diet.

Eating for energy
It’s important to remember that everyone is different when it comes to nutrition. People have different nutritional needs and caloric needs depending on the other aspects of their health and lifestyle. This is another reason why it’s helpful to work with a healthcare provider when making changes to your diet.

With that in mind, here are some basic eating guidelines that may help you feel less fatigued:

  • Eat foods with good nutritional quality. Build your diet around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, complex carbs, and lean proteins like poultry, fish, and plant proteins. Extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy are also good to include. Try to prepare as many of your meals and snacks as possible.
  • Avoid foods with low nutritional quality. This includes sugary foods and beverages, fast food, most restaurant meals, alcohol, and fried foods.
  • Stay within your daily caloric goal. Too few calories and you’ll find yourself fatigued. Too many calories can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Tracking how many calories you eat and how many you burn can help you find your range and stick to it.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Instead of eating larger meals three times a day, eat smaller meals or snacks every few hours. This can help give your body a steady supply of nutrients. It can help you avoid those times when you need to make a meal but are too tired to cook.
  • The right amount of caffeine may help. If you want a caffeinated beverage, choose coffee, which can give you an energy boost and may reduce inflammation. Avoid energy drinks, which can contain added sugars and very high amounts of caffeine.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause or contribute to fatigue as well as other unwanted symptoms.

Eating foods with good nutritional quality—and avoiding foods with poor nutritional quality—can have additional benefits to your overall health.

Good nutrition can help reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease, all of which are common among people who have psoriatic disease. If you have any of these conditions, good nutrition can help improve your health and reduce the risk of complications.

Article sources open article sources

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Susan Jara. Is It Possible to Have Psoriatic Arthritis Without Psoriasis? creakyjoints.org. August 4, 2020.
Cleveland Clinic healthessentials. Can You Have Psoriatic Arthritis Without Psoriasis? December 13, 2021.
Kristen Davies, Emma Dures, and Wan-Fai Ng. Fatigue in inflammatory rheumatic diseases: current knowledge and areas for future research. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 2021. Vol. 17.
MedlinePlus. Fatigue.
Cleveland Clinic healthessentials. How To Manage Psoriatic Arthritis Fatigue. December 9, 2021.
Malgorzata Ponikowska, Malgorzata Tupikowska, et al. Deranged iron status in psoriasis: the impact of low body mass. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, 2015. Vol. 6, No. 4.
Karine Louati and Francis Berenbaum. Fatigue in chronic inflammation - a link to pain pathways. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2015. Vol. 17.
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