When you consider lifestyle changes to manage your psoriasis symptoms, you’ve probably thought about about which moisturizer is best or whether you can still use all your go-to skin products. On the other hand, things like whether your bagel breakfast or go-to lunch sammie could be helping or hurting your condition may not be so top of mind. But perhaps it should.
While the role of diet in inflammatory diseases like psoriasis is still being studied and not entirely clear, dermatologists do agree that there are certain healthy-eating habits that can help you better manage your psoriasis.
“While diet’s not directly linked to psoriasis, there are many reasons to eat healthy when you have psoriasis,” says Suzanne Friedler, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Here’s what dermatologists recommend to manage psoriasis when it comes to what goes on your fork.
1. Lose weight if you need to.
“Patients who are overweight do have an increased risk of developing psoriasis, and their psoriasis can be worse,” says Dr. Friedler. In a 2014 study, researchers found that patients with a body mass index (BMI) below 30 responded better to psoriasis treatment, and that weight loss for psoriasis patients who are overweight and obese may help manage symptoms.
2. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods.
Some foods, like red meat, sugar, dairy, and highly processed foods, cause more inflammation than others. Foods that reduce or minimize inflammation include healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). Here are examples of healthy fats for an anti-inflammatory diet.
“Having a healthy, anti-inflammatory lifestyle can help decrease your risk of other conditions that are associated with psoriasis,” says Dr. Friedler, citing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension as the most common comorbidities of psoriasis. One anti-inflammatory approach that may help with psoriasis and its related conditions is the Mediterranean diet. Learn how to make any diet more Mediterranean here.
3. Ask your doctor about gluten.
Gluten doesn’t cause psoriasis, and there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with eating gluten. However, up to 25 percent of psoriasis patients may have a gluten sensitivity, according to the NPF. “Going gluten-free is not going to help the majority of patients with psoriasis,” says Dr. Friedler, “but if you’re someone who is gluten sensitive, it may be very helpful.” The only way to know for sure if you have a gluten intolerance that may be influencing your psoriasis symptoms (and causing other health problems) is by talking with your doctor.
4. Choose heart-healthy foods.
“Having psoriasis ups your risk for having cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Friedler. A 2014 study found that psoriasis was associated with an increased risk of heart disease, atrial fibrillation symptoms, stroke, and myocardial infarction. By eating foods that are proven to reduce your risk of heart problems, you can minimize this associated risk.
These heart-healthy foods may help manage your psoriasis and prevent related conditions, according to Dr. Friedler:
More fruits and vegetables
For more tips on eating a heart-healthy diet, learn about the DASH diet recommended by the American Heart Association.
“While psoriasis may only seem to be a rash on your skin, you are at risk of developing other serious medical conditions,” says Dr. Friedler. “Having a heart-healthy diet [and] choosing lower-inflammatory foods can help your overall health and help with psoriatic symptoms as well.”