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 fruits and veggies, 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.
The link between alcohol and psoriasis isn't clear, but experts say if you drink, be moderate. For men, that means no more than two drinks a day, and for women no more than one.
Studies show that men who drink heavily don't respond to psoriasis treatments as well. And some research suggests that people who have psoriasis and drink heavily may find that their skin gets better when they stop.
If your condition is especially severe or you take certain medications, like methotrexate and acitretin, your doctor may tell you to stay away from alcohol completely.
Foods That Fight Inflammation
Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition. Research is limited, but some people who have psoriasis say they can manage it better if they eat more inflammation-fighting foods.
Some studies suggest that antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium, may make a difference. And some research suggests fatty acids from fish oil can be helpful. More research is needed.
Anti-inflammatory foods are generally healthy, so it shouldn't hurt to give them a try. They include:
- Fruits and veggies, 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
People who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of getting 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.
You may wonder whether your psoriasis would get better if you ate a gluten-free diet. Although you may hear about success stories from others who have tried it, so far studies aren't clear that it helps. More research is needed.
This kind of eating plan is needed if you have celiac disease, which, like psoriasis, is an autoimmune disease. This plan may be useful when you have gluten sensitivity. Research suggests that people with psoriasis are more likely to also have another autoimmune disease.
If you go gluten-free, it means you have to cut out foods that have grains like wheat, barley, and rye. The downside is that those foods are also heart healthy, and psoriasis raises your chance of getting heart disease. Talk to your doctor before you make any changes in the food you eat.