Lifespan - Livestrong.com
Healthy Diet for Psoriasis
Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that causes the buildup of dry, dead skin cells, requires a diet that helps enhance your immune system function and improve your energy level and overall health. A healthy psoriasis diet focuses on managing your weight and eliminating foods that cause inflammatory responses within the body. "Because everyone's body reacts differently to foods, a healthy diet for psoriasis will differ from person to person -- some people can eat almost anything, while others need to restrict a lot of foods, such as wheat, dairy and some vegetables," advises Dr. William M. Jaremko, a dermatologist practicing in Olean, N.Y.
A healthy weight helps decrease psoriasis symptoms and improves the effectiveness of medications, according to Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., a dermatologist at Mayo Clinic. A healthy weight requires you to eat a calorie-restricted diet that fits your personal needs. The number of calories you need varies based on your current weight, age, gender and activity level. To lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than your body uses, but to maintain weight you need to have an equal balance between the calories you consume and the calories your body uses. Focus your diet on fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, lean protein sources and whole grains to reduce your calorie intake without feeling a lot of hunger.
Inflammation can worsen your psoriasis. Start fighting inflammation by increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of walnuts, tuna, salmon, mackerel and flaxseed, advises Barbara Mendez, a nutritional consultant and registered pharmacist in New York City. If you can't incorporate these foods into your diet, start taking a fish oil supplement. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that you do not absorb as much fish oil when you use a supplement and that fish oil supplements can multiply the effects of blood thinning medications.
Other foods that may cause an inflammatory reaction in the body include wheat, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, eggplant, peppers, white flour and simple sugars found in foods such as soft drinks, candy and cake, advises Nicole Kuhl, the director of nutrition and a full-time health coach at LifeSpan Medicine in Santa Monica, Calif.
Gluten often causes an allergic reaction in people who suffer from psoriasis, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. This may result in an inflammatory response or an improper immune response that inflames your psoriasis. Limit your intake of gluten by avoiding products made from wheat or close relatives, such as kamut, barley, bulgur, farina, durum, triticale or semolina, Kuhl recommends. Foods made with gluten-free grains include corn, soy, rice, quinoa, buckwheat and polenta. Look for gluten-free products at your local food or health store.
Any food allergy can trigger skin conditions, such as psoriasis. Elimination diets and food allergy testing can help you identify if you have any food-related allergies. Consult a health care professional trained in elimination diets and allergy testing to ensure you get accurate results and keep your diet healthy. An elimination diet requires you to eliminate common food allergens from your diet for three to four weeks and then add them back one at a time to watch for reactions, Kuhl explains.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Psoriasis; Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD; March 2010
- MayoClinic.com; Psoriasis Diet: Can Changing Your Diet Treat Psoriasis?; Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.; Feb. 10, 2011
- Barbara M. Mendez, RPh, MS; Private Practice; New York, New York
- Nicole Kuhl, MS, CCN; LifeSpan Medicine; Santa Monica, California
- Dr. William M. Jaremko, M.D.; Private Practice Dermatologist; Olean, New York