Foods To Avoid When Living With Psoriasis
by Patient Advocate
In a perfect world, the best diet would be to eat a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, when youre dealing with a chronic condition such as psoriatic disease, you must be strict with your diet. Food is known to trigger your immune system, causing you any number of symptoms. Each of us will have different trigger foods, but the following are examples of foods that may be aggravating your psoriatic disease.
Can Changing Your Diet Help Treat Psoriasis
Yes, says dermatologist Anthony Fernandez, MD, PhD, especially if you have obesity or are considered to be overweight. We have great evidence to support that losing weight via a hypocaloric diet will improve the overall severity of your psoriasis.
Of course, its not just how much you eat but what you eat that also makes a difference when you change your diet.
Foods You Don’t Tolerate Well
Dr. Cotter notes that negative reactions including psoriasis flare-ups can occur with foods you have an intolerance to. Specific intolerances vary from person to person, so the key is figuring out which foods may be triggers for you personally.
For example, she says some of her patients have seen their psoriasis symptoms improve after eliminating foods like gluten and dairy. An elimination diary or food journal may be helpful tools for you to track your own diet and symptoms to share with your doctor and explore possible links.
If you go the elimination route, the idea is to remove just one food item at a time like gluten for a few weeks, then add it back into your diet. You’re experimenting to see if your psoriasis symptoms resolve on removal and return on reintroduction. Make sure you work closely with your doctor or dietitian to go about this safely, so you don’t end up cutting important nutrients from your diet.
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How Can You Measure Inflammation In The Body
While certain foods are known to cause inflammation, not everyone reacts the same way to these foods. Ive had some patients who felt that wheat was making their psoriasis worse. Another patient noticed more flare-ups when she ate nuts, says Wesdock.
Some tests can measure inflammation with biomarkers, which are substances in your blood that spike when your body reacts a certain way to foods such as fats or sugar. For example, a simple test can check for increased levels of C-reactive protein in your blood. The liver makes extra CRP if theres inflammation in your body. Doctors might use this test to determine how likely you are to develop a chronic condition like heart disease.
As you adjust your diet to ease psoriasis symptoms, be sure to work with your psoriasis doctor to monitor symptoms and inflammation levels.
Mediterranean Diet Requires More Research
People who follow this diet get most of their fat from extra-virgin olive oil. They also eat at least two servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit every day. Each week, they eat at least three servings of fish or seafood, beans, and nuts.
All of these foods are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients. Because psoriasis causes inflammation throughout the body, its believed that this diet could lead to less psoriasis on your skin.
Its still too early to know whether this is true. However, one large study suggests a Mediterranean diet could help people with psoriasis. In this study, 35,735 patients were asked to answer surveys about what they ate. The researchers collected in-depth information, such as how much fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, and legumes they ate.
The patients answered these in-depth surveys three times over a six-month period.
After analyzing the results, the researchers found that the patients with severe psoriasis ate few if any foods found in the Mediterranean diet.
While this may suggest that following a Mediterranean diet can lessen the amount of psoriasis on your skin, its too soon to tell. Only about 2% of the patients in this study had psoriasis. The study also relied on people being able to recall what they ate. Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember what you ate yesterday let alone weeks ago.
Takeaway: More research is needed to know how the Mediterranean diet affects psoriasis.
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What Is Gluten Free
With gluten-free diets getting more and more attention these days, you may wonder if going gluten-free would help reduce your psoriasis symptoms.
The jury is still out on eliminating gluten â a complex protein found in wheat, barley and rye. In a small number of cases, eliminating gluten can lead to improvements. However, following a gluten-free diet, which is very restrictive, is a major commitment. Itâs not a step you should take unnecessarily.
You should discuss dietary modifications, such as following a gluten-free diet, with your health care provider prior to making any diet adjustments.
The 3 Big Food Types Every Person With Psoriasis Must Avoid
NO SUGAR This also includes alcoholic beverages as they are high in sugar that can feed the growth of the Candida yeast. Alcohol also puts stress on your organs and immune system.
NO PROCESSED FOOD No packet pre-cooked sandwich meats, bacon, frozen dinners, micro wave popcorn, tinned soups etc. as it contains high levels of unhealthy trans fats.
NO GLUTEN No white flour non-wholegrain products like white bread, doughnuts, pizzas, pastries, biscuits, etc. as they contain refined carbohydrates which are stripped of necessary fibre which help keep your internal system in a healthy equilibrium by eliminating waste efficiently and in a timely manner from your body.
Gluten causes gut inflammation and acts like glue inside your digestive system. It also contains lectins which bind with essential minerals that now cannot get absorbed efficiently through the digestive process. Check out the gluten free wholegrain chart here.
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Avoid Fresh Fruits And Fruit Juices
For the first months, avoid sweet fruit juices and most fruits, and definitely consume no dried fruits of any kind. If you feel significantly better on a no or low sweet fruit approach, you may want to continue this. Many psoriasis patients have an underlying yeast infection, and by eating sugar-rich juices, fresh and dried fruits you will be playing right into the hands of Candida.
Can Supplements Help With Psoriasis
You mightve heard that taking a supplement thats known to have anti-inflammatory properties, like turmeric, can help with psoriasis. Science doesnt necessarily back this assertion, though. Short of knowing Well, if you take too much of this supplement, it can do something harmful, we will usually say, Go ahead and try taking it, he says. But there simply is no strong evidence at the moment to support any supplements are going to make a difference with psoriasis.
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How Can I Get Started With A Psoriasis Diet
If youre going to change your diet to combat psoriasis, Wesdock recommends starting slowly. Jumping into a highly restrictive diet isnt usually sustainable and may deprive you of important nutrients. Instead, start by cutting out some highly processed foods.
Substitute the pastries and cookies with fresh fruit. Opt for herbal tea or water flavored with fresh fruit, mint or cucumber. If you think theres a specific food or ingredient thats triggering psoriasis flare-ups, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Being overweight or obese can also make psoriasis worse, so you may want to start a weight loss plan that includes fewer calories and smaller portion sizes. Any psoriasis treatment diet should be accompanied by healthy lifestyle choices. Get plenty of sleep and regular exercise, and try to reduce stress in your life. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about a plan to quit.
Psoriasis Triggers To Avoid
Symptoms of psoriasis, such as itchy patches of skin and thickened nails, can come and go.
However, there are common triggers that people with psoriasis may want to avoid just in case.
Theres no definitive psoriasis diet. However, people with the condition may want to consider avoiding the following:
- nightshade plants, such as tomatoes, eggplant, and white potatoes
- gluten, which is found in many grains and condiments
- foods made with white flour
- dairy products
- red meat
- high-sugar foods and fatty foods
According to the results of a 2017 national survey, people with psoriasis saw their symptoms improve or go away completely after they cut back on or eliminated these items.
People saw the most improvement after cutting back on or eliminating nightshade plants and gluten.
Research on alcohol and psoriasis is limited. However, existing studies suggest that alcohol acts as a trigger for many people, particularly women.
In a large published in 2010, researchers observed an increase in psoriasis onset in women who drank non-light beer as opposed to other alcoholic beverages. The increase was associated with five beers per week.
The researchers hypothesized that starch in the beer may have contributed to the development of psoriasis.
According to a , alcohol consumption may also trigger the production of inflammatory proteins and increase your risk of infection. Inflammation and infection can contribute to psoriasis symptoms.
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Eat More: Spices And Herbs
When you flavor your dishes with these, you tend to sprinkle on less salt. That can help protect you from high blood pressure and make you less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Spices and herbs are also top sources of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg in your cereal, toss veggies with dill or rosemary, or season your meat with cumin or basil.
Eat Less: Fatty Red Meat
This can trigger inflammation and may lead to bigger and more severe psoriasis flares. The saturated fat in red meat can also raise your chances of heart disease, and people with psoriasis are already more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. If youâre in the mood for red meat, opt for lean cuts, such as sirloin and top and bottom rounds. And choose ground beef with the lowest percentage of fat.
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How Do Foods Cause Inflammation
Studies are ongoing about how certain foods trigger an inflammatory response. Research suggests that some foods, especially highly processed ones, put your bodys defense mechanisms into overdrive.
For example, fatty foods can increase inflammation in adipose tissue , which is throughout your body. Ongoing fat tissue inflammation greatly increases your risk of psoriasis. It also increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions.
Keep Away From Condiments Sauces And Vinegar Containing Foods
This is a very much and completely over looked area, because most people who have psoriasis tend to narrowly focus on the sugar containing foods of junk foods. Did you know that this group has the potential to contain even more yeasts, molds and unhealthy bacteria than all the other groups put together? If I went to your refrigerator right now, how many jars would I find that have been residing there for weeks or even months? You would be surprised how often you have bought a jar of some sauce and forgot about it for ages. Do you check expiration dates on bottles foods in your refrigerator? Ill bet you dont. Take a look at your refrigerator today, and youll probably end up throwing out many different containers.
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Sauces And Condiments To Avoid For A Few Months
- Barbecue sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- White vinegar
Avoid ALL kinds of vinegar-containing foods such as mayonnaise and salad dressings, especially those fat-free dressings because they are all high in sugars and these sugars are often artificial as well. Freshly squeezed lemon juice may be used as a substitute for vinegar in salad dressings prepared with extra virgin olive oil. You can use vinegar providing is has been naturally fermented, like Braggs Vinegar. Some people who treat psoriasis may tell you to avoid all vinegar strictly, this is not right in my experience. I have found that most all patients with psoriasis can tolerate an organic and naturally fermented vinegar that has not been pasteurized.
Weight Loss Diet Can Help If Youre Overweight
If you have psoriasis and are overweight, losing weight can:
Lead to less psoriasis on your skin
Make psoriasis medication more effective
These effects can happen quickly, according to studies. In one small study of patients with psoriasis who were overweight, half of the patients followed a low-calorie diet. In just 16 weeks, the patients following the low-calorie diet had less psoriasis than the non-dieting group of patients with psoriasis.
During a clinical trial, dermatologists saw similar results. In this trial, dermatologists enrolled 303 patients with long-term plaque psoriasis. All patients were overweight and receiving treatment for psoriasis. Even with treatment, all continued to have psoriasis on their skin.
In this clinical trial, half the patients were given a diet to follow and advice about the importance of exercising. The other group of patients was given information about how weight loss could be helpful. All patients were asked to lose 5% of their body weight within 20 weeks.
Patients in both groups lost weight. Those who lost 5% of their body weight had far less psoriasis on their skin. This trial shows that even a small amount of weight loss can reduce the amount of psoriasis on your skin.
Weight loss can help because both psoriasis and being overweight increase inflammation in your body. When you reduce inflammation, it can lead to less psoriasis on your skin.
Before starting a weight loss diet, talk with your dermatologist
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Psoriasis Diet: What Foods To Eat And What Foods To Avoid
Written byDr. Victor MarchionePublished onJuly 27, 2016
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes dry, red, and itchy patches on the skins surface. Although there is no diet specifically for psoriasis, many patients often report relief from their symptoms when they make simple adjustments to their diet.
When devising a psoriasis diet plan, there are four main approaches a patient can take: weight loss, heart health, anti-inflammatory, and gluten free. The rationale behind this is, psoriasis is usually worse in those who are overweight, it can take a toll on the heart, and it is accompanied by inflammation leading to other complications, and research suggests going gluten-free may also offer relief for psoriasis symptoms.
Below we will discuss dietary adjustments based on the above approaches, along with foods to eat and to avoid when you have psoriasis.
Always Talk With Your Doctor Before Changing Your Diet
While changing what you eat may seem simple, some fad diets can worsen psoriasis. Your dermatologist and primary care doctor can help you find a diet that meets your individual needs and works well with the medication in your treatment plan.
Related AAD resources
ReferencesBhatia BK, Millsop JW, et al. Diet and psoriasis, part II: celiac disease and role of a gluten-free diet. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 71:350-8.
Cazzaniga S, Conti A, et al. Comments on “Diet and psoriasis, Part I: Impact of weight loss interventions. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 71:829
Debbaneh M, Jillian W Millsop JW, et al. Diet and psoriasis, part I: Impact of weight loss interventions. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Jul 71:133-40.
Elmets CA, Korman NJ, et al. Joint AAD-NPF Guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis with topical therapy and alternative medicine modalities for psoriasis severity measures. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020 Jul 30 S0190-962232288-X. Online ahead of print.
Ford AR, 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 Dermatol. 2018 Aug 1 154:934-50.
Jesitus J. Mediterranean diet may reduce psoriasis severity. Dermatol Times. 2018 Sep 39. Last accessed Sep 24, 2020.
Ko SH, Chi CC, et al. Lifestyle changes for treating psoriasis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Jul 16 7:CD011972.
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How To Prevent Triggers
If you learn your individual psoriasis triggers, you can prevent and lessen most of your outbreaks.
Its not always possible to avoid every trigger, but a little planning can go a long way toward preventing an outbreak. Try these steps:
- Modify your diet to reduce or eliminate common food and beverage triggers, including alcohol.
- Carry a hat and sunscreen with you at all times. You never know when you might be sitting at a sunny table at a restaurant.
- Avoid extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, when posssible.
- Find ways to reduce stress. Taking up hobbies such as exercise or practicing mindfulness techniques may do the trick.
- Maintain a moderate weight.
- Quit smoking, if you smoke.
- When performing any activity that may cause skin injury, be sure to take extra precautions such as wearing long sleeves, wearing gloves, and using bug spray.
- Keep your skin moisturized. Dry skin is more prone to skin injury.
Doctors continue to study the treatment and triggers for psoriasis. Some of the areas theyre pursuing for future potential treatment are:
- gene therapy
Which Psoriasis Treatments Help With Flares
Even if you may or may not be able to manage your psoriasis symptoms with what you eat, there are many other proven treatments that work phenomenally well, Dr. Feldman says. Psoriasis medications are determined by the severity of your symptoms, where theyre located on your body, and how much your condition affects your ability to do everyday tasks.
Here are some psoriasis treatments that may be worth asking your doctor about, according to the Mayo Clinic:
Ultimately, working closely with a board-certified dermatologist will help you figure out the best course of action to manage your psoriasis symptoms. You want to have a checklist when you go to the doctor, including all areas of the body affected by your psoriasis, Dr. Feldman says.
Your treatment plan may include diet changes, but its important to remember that its just one piece of the puzzle. We have to get to the underlying cause of the issue, Dr. Feldman saysand that will likely require tackling the inflammation head-on with one of the medications above.
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