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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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Diet and Psoriasis

By Eric Metcalf, MPH
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD

Watch what you eat. Watch your weight. Both can affect the symptoms of psoriasis.

Food doesn’t cause or cure this skin disease, but research shows it may calm itchy soreness and even clear up outbreaks.

Recommended Related to Skin Problems & Treatments

Chocolate and Acne

Q: Does chocolate really cause acne? My teenagers love the stuff -- and they have pretty bad breakouts. A: Sorry, Mom and Dad. Your dire warnings about Snickers bars are fruitless, because the answer is FALSE. Chocolate has no link to acne (nor do other frequently blamed foods, such as pizza and potato chips). "There was a famous experiment done many years ago at the University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Albert Kligman," says Irwin Braverman, MD, professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine...

Read the Chocolate and Acne article > >

What Does Weight Have To Do With It?

If you have a lot of extra weight, losing some of those pounds may help. Some studies show that losing weight may relieve your symptoms. In one of them, 10 people with psoriasis had weight-loss surgery. Six months later, seven people’s skin troubles had gone away.

Your fat cells churn out a protein called TNF-alpha, which is "a driving force of psoriasis," says Meagen McCusker, MD, a University of Connecticut dermatologist. "When people lose weight, they have less TNF-alpha."

This protein causes inflammation of the skin.

Should You Go Gluten-Free?

Joel M. Gelfand, MD, a psoriasis expert at the University of Pennsylvania, hears this question a lot. He says some people tell personal stories about benefits they've noticed after ditching gluten, but there’s not enough research to say one way or the other if it helps with psoriasis. Without strong evidence, “I don’t recommend it,” Gelfand says.

Of course, if you have celiac disease (which, like psoriasis, is an immune system condition), you need to totally avoid gluten.

If you think you are sensitive to gluten, ask your doctor to check to see if you should take a blood test to find out if you might have celiac disease.


Cut Down on Alcohol

If you drink too much, it may make your psoriasis worse, and it can keep treatments from working as well as they could. So if you drink more than a "moderate" amount (up to 1 drink a day for women or 2 daily drinks for men), it’s a good idea to cut back.

Nutrients You Need

It’s wise to eat a balanced diet loaded with veggies, fruit, whole grains, lean protein, and “good” fats (which mainly come from plant sources). That eating pattern is good for your whole body, and it should cover your nutritional needs.

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