BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

Everything You Need to Know About Psoriasis and Your Diet

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psoriasis diet

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If you’re one of the roughly 7.5 million Americans living with psoriasis, you know it isn’t exactly fun. While you may go for years without symptoms, when you have a psoriasis flare-up, it can be everything from uncomfortable to downright distressing. And part of what makes it such a difficult condition to deal with is because you never know when a flare-up might occur and what could cause it. One biggie that’s thought to cause flare-ups is food.

Certain types of foods appear to trigger or worsen psoriasis symptoms, and others may actually help tame signs of psoriasis, but “everyone is different and foods that trigger flare-ups for some may not affect others with psoriasis, so pay attention to what seems to personally affect you,” says Annie Gonzalez, M.D., F.A.A.D, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, Florida.

To help, we rounded up the best foods to eat if you have psoriasis and ones you should try to avoid, if you can.

First, what is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disease with an unclear cause — what’s known is that it happens when the immune system goes into overdrive, triggering inflammation and inflammatory skin symptoms due to that overactivity that speeds up skin cell growth. The most common type of psoriasis (80%-90% of people with psoriasis have this kind) is called plaque psoriasis, characterized by patches of thick, raised skin that may itch and be red or partially covered in silvery-white scales; these patches can develop anywhere but tend to appear on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp. Other ways a psoriasis flare-up may manifest is as tiny, salmon-to-pink colored bumps; smooth, raw-looking red patches around skin creases like the armpits; red, swollen skin dotted with pus-filled bumps; and as nail issues like tiny dents, rough crumbling nails, discoloration or lifting of the nail.

What triggers a psoriasis flare-up?

Weather, stress, infections (such as strep throat), smoking or secondhand smoke and certain medications, like those to treat high blood pressure are some common psoriasis flare triggers. Food is also thought to play a role in prompting of psoriasis flares. Specifically, inflammatory foods (a.k.a. foods that cause inflammation in the body) are thought to be common culprits, but more research in this area needs to be done. “My advice is, if you notice your skin gets worse after eating certain foods, avoid and stop eating them to see what happens,” says Dr. Gonzalez.

Best foods to eat if you have psoriasis:

In general, eat a well-balanced diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables and healthy fats —this mix ensures you’re consuming an array of nutrients and antioxidants that help prevent and reduce inflammation that could trigger a psoriasis flare-up.

psoriasis diet

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Fruits and vegetables

“Fruits and veggies may reduce inflammation because they’re high in antioxidants and vitamins, which have been also been related to lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation,” says Gonzalez. Aromatics like onions and garlic are also smart to incorporate; they contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant.

Load up on:

  • Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, arugula, mustard greens and dandelion greens
  • Citrus like oranges, grapefruit, lemon lime
  • Tomato
  • Bell peppers
  • Hot chili peppers
  • Papaya
  • Berries
  • Aromatics like onions, garlic, scallions, leeks shallots

    Healthy fats

    Heart-healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help decrease inflammation to alleviate or prevent symptoms.

    Load up on:

    • Nuts and seeds
    • Olive oil
    • Avocado

      Herbs and spices

      Many of these flavor enhancers are also thought to play a role in taming inflammation.

      Load up on:

      • Turmeric
      • Cinnamon
      • Nutmeg
      • Black pepper
      • Cayenne and other spicy dried chili peppers
      • Cardamom
      • Cilantro
      • Parsley
      • Rosemary
      • Basil
      • Thyme
      • Oregano
      • Ginger

        Foods to avoid if you have psoriasis:

        Remember: Not every food on this list will definitely trigger a psoriasis flare-up, but if you do notice that your diet is affecting your skin, these inflammatory foods might be to blame, and cutting back or eliminating may help. “Foods that have been known to trigger psoriasis include eggs, red and processed meat, canned produce, and packaged or processed foods,” Gonzalez says.

        variety of raw black angus prime meat steaks

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        Red and Processed Meats

        These types of proteins tend to be high in saturated fat, an inflammation raiser and processed meats often contain preservatives, additives, and other flavor enhancers that may have a similar affect.

        Avoid or limit:

        • Red meat
        • Sausages
        • Bacon
        • Hot dogs
        • Deli meat
        • Pepperoni and salami
        • Jerky

          Packaged and Processed Foods

          These types of products often contain various inflammation triggers, such as added sugar, trans fat, preservatives, sodium and flavorings.

          Avoid or limit:

          • Crackers
          • Bread
          • Chips
          • Desserts
          • Sugary cereals
          • Fried food
          • Pre-made shelf-stable meals
          • Condiments and salad dressings that contain some of the no-nos listed above.

            Gluten

            Some research suggests that people with psoriasis may also be sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, possibly due to similar genetic and other inflammatory markers that affect people with Celiac disease.

            Avoid or limit:

            • Breads, pasta, crackers and other foods made with wheat flour
            • Rye
            • Malt
            • Breadcrumbs
            • Beer
            • Sauce or gravy mixes

              Bottom line:

              Everyone is different and different bodies will react differently to certain foods. Try jotting down which foods seem to impact your skin, so you can keep track and have that information on hand to consult with your doctor about your diet.

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