Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting around 125 million people worldwide. Characterized by red, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales, psoriasis flare-ups can be caused by a variety of triggers – including the food you eat. Alternatively, you may notice a reduction in the frequency and severity of your flare-ups after changing what you eat.
Let’s take a closer look at the link between psoriasis and diet by examining foods that are more likely to trigger a flare-up and helpful foods that you should incorporate into your diet instead.
Please keep in mind that although these recommendations might relieve psoriasis, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe psoriasis symptoms like fever or an infection, it is best to seek medical advice immediately. It’s also important to seek medical attention immediately if you begin to suffer from psoriatic arthritis.
Alternatively, if you are not sure whether you might be suffering from eczema or psoriasis, make sure to check out our blog post that distinguishes both here.
What is Psoriasis?
Before we start talking about food, it’s important to first understand some key facts about psoriasis.
Those suffering from psoriasis have an increased production of skin cells due to their overactive immune system that causes these cells to reproduce every 3-4 days. This extra build-up of skin cells is what causes the red, flaky patches with silvery scales to form.
These patches can be found anywhere on the body, but commonly appear on the elbows, scalp, lower back, and knees. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can be triggered by stress, alcohol, extreme weather conditions and, of course, certain foods.
Think you may be suffering from nail psoriasis? Check out our post What is Nail Psoriasis?
Psoriasis and Diet: Foods to Avoid
With psoriasis being an inflammatory disease, it stands to reason that you should avoid foods that trigger inflammation. Here are some common foods known to trigger psoriasis symptoms:
Red meat has a higher level of cholesterol and saturated fat – especially beef. If you are eating beef, choose lean cuts and remove as much fat as you can before cooking it. Otherwise, go for learner proteins like fish, chicken, or tofu instead.
Like red meat, dairy (especially eggs) contains high levels of saturated fat. Avoid egg or egg dishes whenever possible.
People with psoriasis tend to have a higher sensitivity to gluten. Avoid gluten-rich foods including – but not limited to – wheat, barley, pasta, baked goods, and beer or malt beverages.
In general, processed foods are not good for your overall health because they are likely to contain sodiums, sugars, and trans-fat. When doing your grocery shopping, do your best to avoid packaged deli meats, microwavable dinners, canned fruits and vegetables, and any other heavily processed foods.
Consuming an excess of refined sugar makes it hard to maintain a healthy weight which can affect your psoriasis. Not to mention blood pressure. Opt for natural sources of sugar instead – like seasonal fruit.
Alcohol disrupts the various pathways of the immune system making it a trigger for any autoimmune flare-ups, including psoriasis. To avoid, drink sparingly or consider switching over to alcohol-free products.
Wondering what else could be triggering your psoriasis? Read our post Psoriasis Triggers: Top 10 to Avoid.
To also pinpoint what might be triggering your psoriasis, try carrying out an elimination diet. This is quite similar to an eczema elimination diet in which allergens are removed from a diet for a set amount of time and then reincorporated. Elimination diets have helped many sufferers of chronic skin conditions heal their skin naturally.
Anti-Inflammatory Psoriasis Diet Plan
A wonderful psoriasis diet plan consists of an anti-inflammatory meal plan composed of whole grains, fresh produce, healthy fats, and lean proteins. To reduce the severity of psoriasis flare-ups, try these anti-inflammatory foods:
Fruits and Vegetables
Due to their antioxidant properties, colourful fruits and vegetables can help reduce inflammation. This includes leafy greens (such as kale and spinach), cherries, blueberries, grapes, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.
The increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to a decrease in inflammation. These acids are found in salmon, sardines, shrimp, trout and other fish. Not only are they good sources of protein, but they are also linked to reducing the risk of heart disease.
Certain vegetable oils also contain anti-inflammatory fatty acids and are high in omega-3s. Consider incorporating more olive-oil, flaxseed oil, and coconut oil into your diet.
While maintaining a healthy diet is important for anyone’s health, those suffering from autoimmune conditions, such as psoriasis, can particularly benefit from the above dietary change. Keep in mind, however, that while the foods listed above are known to trigger or reduce flare-ups, everyone is unique and may react differently. Be sure to speak to your doctor or nutritionist before making any major changes to your diet.
Have you noticed a link between your diet and psoriasis flare-ups? Let us know!
Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.