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Managing Your Psoriasis

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5 Diet Tips for Managing Moderate-to-Severe Psoriasis

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Allie Lemco Toren on January 20, 2021
  • Family doing meal prep
    Can diet improve psoriasis?
    Many psoriasis patients find what they eat has an effect on their skin. While scientists have yet to broadly prove this connection, smaller studies in recent years have suggested there is a link—and it has a lot to do with inflammation. Psoriasis occurs when the immune system overreacts, creating chronic inflammation. But what we eat can contribute to inflammation in our bodies, too. Researchers theorize that reducing inflammation through diet can improve psoriasis symptoms. And although every psoriasis patient is different, following these tips can be one way to stay in control of your psoriasis and your health.
  • Woman standing on weight scale
    1. Control your weight to control psoriasis.
    Here’s what we do know for sure: losing weight reduces psoriasis symptoms. A study published in 2013 found participants who committed to a low-calorie diet for 16 weeks not only lost an average of 15 pounds, but also decreased the severity of their psoriasis. Because obesity greatly increases inflammation levels in the body, researchers believe these higher levels just make things worse for psoriasis patients. That’s why it’s so important to follow a nutritious, balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight—staying away from sugary and high-fat foods improves your overall health, and thus your psoriasis.
  • wheat intolerance
    2. Gluten-free is the way to be—for some psoriasis patients.
    It seems like everyone’s going gluten-free nowadays, but for some people with psoriasis, this diet’s not just a fad—it can greatly improve psoriasis symptoms. However, it only works if you’re truly sensitive or allergic to gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and oats. Researchers have found that up to 25% of people with psoriasis are sensitive to gluten, allergic to wheat, or have an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease, for which a gluten-free diet is the best and only treatment. Studies have shown for this population, avoiding gluten can greatly reduce psoriasis severity and improve overall health. 
  • Cutting Board with Meat
    3. Try avoiding animal products.
    In several studies, scientists have found psoriasis patients who avoid fatty red meats and dairy experience a reduction in psoriasis plaques. Metabolizing animal products (excluding fish) increases inflammation in our bodies, so sticking to veggies, fruits, and non-animal sources of protein cuts out this inflammation; plus, vegetables like carrots, garlic, onions, and broccoli contain high levels of antioxidants, which help to fight inflammation. However, you may want to stay away from the nightshade family of vegetables, like potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, as they can increase inflammation.
  • salmon dish
    4. Add more fish to your diet.
    Studies over the years have found high doses of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil improve psoriasis symptoms. While many patients take fish oil supplements, research suggests the body is better able to absorb and benefit from omega-3s from actual fish, rather than capsules. So next time you’re at the grocery store, add a cold-water fish, like salmon, to your cart. If you prefer to take a supplement, talk to your doctor before starting on a new regimen.
  • glasses of red and white wine on table
    5. Go easy on the alcohol.
    Drinking too much alcohol isn’t healthy for anyone, but it’s especially harmful for those with psoriasis, and male patients in particular. In fact, heavy drinking increases men’s risk for developing psoriasis to begin with. Studies looking at men with psoriasis showed drinking large amounts of alcohol can prevent treatment from working and can even stop the disease from going into remission. And women are affected, too—research shows alcohol can trigger psoriasis flare-ups in both genders.
Psoriasis Diet | 5 Diet Tips for Managing Moderate-to-Severe Psoriasis
  1. Diet and Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  2. Jenson P, Zachariae C, Christensen R. Effect of Weight Loss on the Severity of Psoriasis: A Randomized Clinical Study. JAMA Dermatology. 2013;289(1-2): 23-31.
  3. Wolters M. Diet and psoriasis: experimental data and clinical evidence. British Journal of Dermatology. 2005;153: 706-714.
  4. Inflammation to blame for psoriatic disease. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  5. The Immune System and Psoriatic Disease. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  6. Anti-Inflammatory Diet. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  7. Fish Oil: Does It Really Help Psoriasis? National Psoriasis Foundation.
  8. Gupta AK, Ellis CN, Tenner DC, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy of fish oil and low-dose UVB in the treatment of psoriasis. British Journal of Dermatology. 1989;120(6): 801-807.
  9. How cigarettes and alcohol affect psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 20
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