Researchers categorize psoriasis as an autoimmune disorder in which the disease-fighting cells in your body mistakenly attack and destroy healthy cells in your skin. To compensate for the resulting loss, your body produces new skin cells at an accelerated rate, leading to the buildup of thick, scaly patches of excess skin that are often itchy, red, and painful.
Psoriasis symptoms often occur in cycles. You may go without symptoms for weeks or months at a time, then have a sudden flare-up in which they re-emerge. External factors, such as stress, skin injuries, infections, drinking and smoking, vitamin D deficiency, or certain medications, may act as triggers for psoriasis symptoms.
There is no cure for psoriasis, and the best way to manage and control your symptoms is to see a physician, who can recommend medications and other treatment options to calm the inflammation, ease pain and itching, and reduce redness of psoriatic skin. However, changes to your diet to avoid certain symptom-triggering foods and to replace them with psoriasis-friendly options may also help to improve your condition.
How a Psoriasis Diet Can Benefit You
Avoiding foods that may trigger your symptoms and substituting with foods that have anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits may help to relieve your psoriasis symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Obesity is a risk factor for psoriasis, and people who are overweight may experience symptoms at a greater degree of severity. Eating a healthier diet can help you lose weight and lower these risks. Psoriasis can also put you at risk for heart disease, and making changes to your diet may help to counteract its effect and maintain your cardiovascular health.
What Not To Eat With a Psoriasis-Friendly Diet
Many popular and commonly available foods have the potential to trigger or exacerbate symptoms of psoriasis. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to replace these problem foods with healthier options that can reduce inflammation and promote heart health and weight loss.
1. Red Meat
Red meats such as sausage, burgers, and steaks can increase inflammation, and they aren’t very good for your heart, either. The best substitution for red meat in your diet is fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties. Other good options include chicken, turkey, and other lean white meats. If you cannot eliminate red meat from your diet altogether, try to avoid fatty cuts.
2. Refined Sugars and Processed Snack Foods
It’s difficult to resist the temptation to snack between meals, but not only do sugary and fatty snacks have the potential to exacerbate inflammation, they can also contribute to weight gain. Help your snacking work for you rather than against you by substituting healthier options such as nuts, seeds, and fruits.
Though fruits and vegetables are generally part of a psoriasis-friendly diet, some patients report that eating tomatoes worsens symptoms. You can substitute vegetables such as cucumbers and red bell peppers for tomatoes.
Though research doesn’t demonstrate a clear link between gluten and psoriasis, some patients report improvement of psoriatic symptoms by eliminating floury foods from their diet. You can substitute products made from flours that don’t contain gluten, such as corn, rice, or oat flour.