Psoriasis: Should You Avoid Certain Foods?

If you have psoriasis, you may take medication and keep close tabs on the weather, your stress level, and other triggers. Should you also watch what's on your plate?

A healthy diet -- lots of produce, lean protein, and whole grains -- is a good idea for just about everyone. But some people who have psoriasis say their eating habits can affect their skin.

There's no scientific proof that staying away from certain foods or following a specific diet will help your condition. But what you eat and drink may make a difference.

Limit Alcohol

The link between alcohol and psoriasis isn't clear, but experts say you should drink only in moderation (up to 1 drink a day for women or 2 for men). 

Research has shown that men who drink heavily don't respond to psoriasis treatments as well. And some studies suggest that people who have psoriasis and drink heavily may find that their skin gets better when they stop.

If your condition is especially bad or you take certain medications, like methotrexate and acitretin, your doctor may tell you to stay away from alcohol completely.

Gluten-Free Diet

If you have psoriasis, you're twice as likely to have celiac disease (when your immune system reacts to a protein called gluten). If you do, you should stay away from wheat, barley, and rye. See your doctor to find out -- it's usually diagnosed with a simple blood test.

Even if you don't have celiac disease, you may still be "gluten sensitive." Up to 25% of people with psoriasis have this problem. One reason may be that people with psoriasis are more likely to have high levels of certain antibodies that fight a compound found in gluten. Talk with your doctor, and if that's true for you, cutting out gluten may make your psoriasis better.

It's a good idea to get some guidance from your doctor or a nutritionist to find out what you should stay away from and make sure you get the nutrition you need. And you'll need to stick with it for at least 3 months to know if it will help you.

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Foods That Fight Inflammation

Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, and eating -- or staying away from -- some specific foods may help some people with that. Research is limited, but some who have psoriasis say they can manage it better if they eat more inflammatory-fighting foods.

Some studies suggest that antioxidants (like vitamin C, E, beta- carotene, and selenium) and fatty acids from fish oil also may make a difference. But more research is needed.

Anti-inflammatory foods are generally healthy ones, so it shouldn't hurt to give them a try. They include:

  • Fruits and vegetables, especially berries, cherries, and leafy greens
  • Salmon, sardines, and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Antioxidant-rich herbs and spices, like thyme, sage, cumin, and ginger
  • Heart-healthy sources of fat, like olive oil, seeds, and nuts

Some foods can make inflammation worse. Eat less of these:

  • Processed foods and refined sugars
  • Fatty cuts of red meat
  • Dairy
  • Nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers)

 

Lose Weight

People who are overweight or obese have a greater risk of psoriasis, and their symptoms tend to be worse. Studies suggest that your skin may get better if you shed extra pounds. This may be because fat cells make certain proteins that can trigger inflammation and make the condition worse.

You might eat smaller portions, limit carbs or fat, or follow a combination of diet strategies your doctor recommends.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on 2/, 017

Sources

SOURCES:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Inflammation and Diet."

Choudhary, S. Bioscience Biotechnology Research Communications, 2016. Michaëlsson, G. British Journal of Dermatology, January 2000.

National Institutes of Health: "The Role of Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention."

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Diet and Psoriasis;" "Gluten-Free Diet;" "How Cigarettes and Alcohol Affect Psoriasis."

Wolters, M. British Journal of Dermatology, August 2005.

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