Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes scaly, red rashes on the elbows, knees, hands, back, and scalp. Experts attribute the condition to an immune abnormality, but genetics can also contribute to the development of psoriasis. The red, itchy areas of skin result from excessive multiplication of skin cells, 10 times faster than the normal rate in fact.
Because psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, many people seek alternative remedies to help treat symptoms. These remedies or lifestyle modifications may not cure the condition, but they have been known to decrease the severity of symptoms. While many people tend to search for topical solutions to fix the problem, it’s actually better to encourage healing from within. We’re talking about decreasing symptoms via diet modification.
People with psoriasis often benefit from elimination diets because they assist with determining if a specific food causes a flare-up upon reintroducing it to the system. A 2018 study in the JAMA Dermatology journal suggests that certain diets can slow the progression of psoriasis. Focusing on heart-healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes is very beneficial for the skin. Ideally, it’s best to limit the consumption of fish, meats, sugary foods, processed foods, and dairy product. The following foods are common triggers for people with psoriasis, and you should avoid them to improve the condition.
Many experienced dietitians attribute psoriasis flare-ups to the consumption of nightshades. In fact, they are among the most common foods that cause itchiness. The solanine in nightshades can impair digestion and may cause inflammation. Common nightshades include peppers, potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes.
Not only does the consumption of processed, high-calorie foods increase your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity, but it also can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. Since excess inflammation may be linked to psoriasis flare-ups, it is ideal to avoid canned fruits or vegetables, packaged food products, processed meats, or processed foods that are high in saturated fats, salt, and sugar.
High-Fat Dairy Products
Dairy products play a big role in the development of psoriatic lesions. Eggs, dairy products, and red meat all contain a polyunsaturated fatty acid known as arachidonic acid, and studies show that it can worsen psoriasis. Studies have shown that high-fat dairy products can also increase inflammation. Since psoriasis is already an inflammatory condition, it’s beneficial to avoid inflammation-causing foods. Full-fat dairy products contain saturated fat as well, which is not beneficial for heart health.
Celiac disease is caused by an autoimmune response to the protein known as gluten. While people with psoriasis don’t necessarily have Celiac disease, research has shown that psoriasis patients have increased gluten sensitivity, which can increase itchiness and redness. People with psoriasis are encouraged to avoid pasta, noodles, baked goods containing wheat, certain sauces or condiments, wheat & wheat derivatives, rye, barley, malt, beer, and certain processed foods.
Similar to dairy products, red meats also cause inflammation. Since people with psoriasis benefit from anti-inflammatory diets, excluding red meat is a step in a less-itchy direction. Dietitians say that red meat may not directly worsen psoriasis, but a red meat-centric diet can increase the risk of heart disease. Statistically, people with psoriasis have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, so it’s best to avoid red meat if you can.
Many people with psoriasis report that alcohol consumption tends to worsen psoriasis symptoms. Preliminary research indicates a connection between flare-ups and alcohol consumption. Logically, then, consuming less alcohol can reduce the severity and frequency of flare-ups. Alcohol dilates blood vessels, so other substances and white blood cells gain easier access to the skin’s surface. This promotes the inflammatory flare-ups. Lastly, alcohol can dry out the skin by dehydrating the body, which can increase itchiness.
Take the time to eliminate these foods from your diet and see if they improve the condition. People with psoriasis may also want to experiment with a gluten-free diet, a vegan diet (omitting nightshades), a Mediterranean diet, or an autoimmune protocol diet.