Psoriatic Arthritis Diet: Experts Discuss Which Foods To Eat and Which Foods To Limit

Although the psoriatic disease cannot be treated by diet alone, certain foods can help manage symptoms.

It can sometimes be difficult to see how food affects other parts. But everything–including what we put into our stomachs and how that affects other body parts like our bones, joints, and skin–is connected. Calcium-rich foods make our bones get stronger; healthy fats help our cells grow faster; and when we solely rely on sugary, highly-processed foods for sustenance…well, it’s not great.

People with chronic illnesses, like psoriatic arthritis, are especially prone to the effects of this food-body connection. Although diet is not the only thing you should focus on if it is severe, it can make it difficult to manage your symptoms.

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Robert Koval MD, a Texas Orthopedics rheumatologist in Austin, Texas, tells Health that diet is an important piece of the puzzle for treating psoriatic. “Although we cannot rely on diet alone to treat symptoms, eating a healthy, autoimmune, anti-inflammatory diet can definitely help.”

What is this “healthy, anti-inflammatory, autoimmune diet”? These are the five foods that you should eat to treat psoriatic inflammation. The five foods that you should avoid are listed below.

What is the relationship between diet and psoriatic disease?

Understanding how certain foods affect your body’s inflammation response is important. There are also two reasons to be mindful of your diet if you have psoriatic. These are weight management and concurrent risk factors.

Dr Koval says studies have shown that psoriatic arthritis disease activity is related to patient weight. For example, a small 2019 study in Arthritis Research and Therapy reported that weight loss could be beneficial in reducing the majority of disease symptoms in obese patients who have psoriatic arthritis.

Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author and adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU, agrees. “Being overweight can worsen symptoms, so practicing portion control, choosing low-calorie foods that are high in fiber, and choosing healthy foods can help,” she told Health.

Second, remember that many factors, including diet, can cause psoriatic disease.

Dr Koval says, “I don’t think diet is the only cause. However, it can accelerate symptoms.” Many factors contribute to the development and progression of this disease, many of them not well understood.

Does psoriatic require a special diet?

In many cases, it’s not necessary or beneficial to follow a commercialized diet to treat psoriatic disease. Focusing on whole foods and limiting processed or refined foods is a better way to go. If you aren’t sure how to do this, consult a registered nutritionist or dietician to help you create a plan that suits your needs.

Dr Koval says that certain diet principles can help all patients. However, you need to choose one that is practical as well as sustainable. This, along with traditional medications and treatments, can help to control symptoms.

The only prescribed diet Dr Young suggests for people with psoriatic arthritis is the Mediterranean diet, primarily because all the foods you eat are known to be anti-inflammatory (so if you’re cutting out inflammatory foods, you’ll be following a Mediterranean diet whether you mean to or not).

Dr Young states that the Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, which are rich in antioxidants, as well as omega-3 fatty acid…which help reduce inflammation and stiffness in joints.”

The diet is more of a lifestyle than a “diet”, leading to restrictions, exclusions of whole food groups and calorie counting.

Which foods should you eat with psoriatic arthritis?

Both of our experts agree that you want to focus on naturally anti-inflammatory foods, known for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, improving heart health, and assisting with weight management.

Dr Young says that eating a healthy and anti-inflammatory diet can help relieve [arthritis] symptoms. This includes whole foods rich in healthy fats, along with colourful fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.

Young and Dr Koval recommend including a few foods in your diet if psoriatic arthritis is a problem.

Fresh fruits and veggies

Fresh fruits and vegetables are filling, fiber-rich and virtually calorie-free. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in soluble fibre, which helps improve digestion function.

Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal. To reap the full benefits of fresh fruits, choose those that contain lots of phytonutrients. These chemicals are found in plants and have antioxidant properties. These include:

  • Berries
  • Peppers
  • Kale
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Spinach
  • Cantaloupe
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Pineapple

It’s a good rule of thumb to choose brightly coloured foods when looking for phytonutrients. While this may not be the best way to shop for healthy foods in the supermarket, it is a good shortcut.

Lean protein

Protein is essential for building healthy muscles and repairing cell damage. However, chicken, turkey, fish, and other meat-based proteins have less saturated fat. They are therefore more nutritious than calorie-dense and an excellent choice. You can also opt for non-meat sources of protein, like beans, tofu, green peas, chia seeds, and legumes.

Healthy fats

Here’s a tip. Monounsaturated fats can be good and saturated fats can make you sick. We don’t like to label any food as “bad” per se. It’s all about moderation. But what about omega-3 fatty acids? These are the best. You can increase your omega-3 intake by including more omega-3-rich fish like salmon, sardines, nuts and seeds in your diet. Dr Young claims that olive oil may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could prevent cartilage damage.

Whole grains

Most people associate any diet with giving up carbs. However, this is often not the case. Instead, you can swap out your refined grains for whole, more complex ones. You can keep all fat-burning fibre and avoid the insulin resistance associated with white flour, bread, or rice. You can include whole grains such as oats and barley, quinoa and brown rice in your diet for psoriatic arthritis. Whole wheat pasta, bread, cereals and other foods are also good options.

Green tea

All types of tea contain phytonutrients. However, green, white and black teas have the highest. Its anti-inflammatory effects on arthritis patients have been studied, though most of the research so far has been on patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Still, according to the Arthritis Foundation, green tea’s active ingredient may have stronger antioxidant properties than vitamin C, making it a solid beverage choice for people living with psoriatic arthritis.

What foods should you limit or avoid when suffering from psoriatic disease?

Our experts say that while there are no off-limits foods, certain foods can pose a problem, especially if they’re consumed in large quantities. These foods can raise your blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain.

Dr Young says that an inflammatory diet includes foods high in sugars such as soda, cakes and candy, and processed meats like deli meats and ultra-processed foods like refined grains and deli meats. These are problematic for psoriatic and can exacerbate symptoms.”

Our experts have identified some foods that you should avoid if you suffer from psoriatic.

Meats from the processing industry

Processed meats include everything from deli ham and salami to sausages and bacon; because these foods are preserved during manufacturing, they’re often high in sodium, nitrates, and artificial flavourings, all of which can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

Refined grains

We said you didn’t have to reduce carbs sooner, and we stand behind that statement: You don’t need to eliminate all carbs. However, you can cut certain types of carbs. Refined grains such as those used in white bread, white rice, and many other grocery items, such as cereals, granola bars, and bagels, can spike blood sugar, leading to a serious sugar crash and insulin resistance.

If you don’t know, higher insulin resistance means more sugar in your bloodstream, which means that sugar eventually gets stored as fat; this is also a leading cause of prediabetes and types two diabetes, per the CDC.

Red meat

Research has shown that red meat consumption is linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Because red meat contains more saturated fat than leaner cuts, such as chicken, it’s more closely tied to inflammation; according to the Mayo Clinic, this may be because red meat increases the number of inflammatory markers in your blood, so eating it regularly can cause chronic inflammation.

Dairy

The link between dairy and psoriatic disease is more complicated than with processed meats. While some research indicates that bone-building dairy may be beneficial for the joints, other research suggests that dairy might be an allergenic, inflammatory food contributing to arthritis symptoms.

Our experts say that dairy and arthritis are more commonly linked to osteoarthritis. However, if you have psoriatic, it is worth having dairy on your radar. If it seems to be exacerbated, reduce it. But if it doesn’t, then you don’t need to worry.

Sugars added

Natural sugars, such as fruits, dairy products, and certain vegetables, are usually easily digested and well-tolerated by the body. However, added sugars can cause inflammation. They are found in almost everything, from bread and yoghurt to condiments to sweets. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, added sugar could also contribute to weight gain, making it harder to maintain an arthritis-friendly weight that’s good for your joints.

What you need to know about nightshades, psoriatic arthritis and psoriatic nerves

Some people have spread the anecdotal word that the vegetables in the nightshade family–which includes eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, and white potatoes–are bad for people with arthritis, thanks to a chemical called solanine. The chemical solanine gave the nightshade its “deadly” nickname. However, there have been instances of poisoning and toxicity due to excessive consumption.

Is problem? This is even though there has been no scientific evidence to support it. While there is probably a very small percentage of people living with arthritis who don’t tolerate nightshades well for whatever reason, there’s no reason to cut out this family of vegetables unless you’ve experienced obvious negative effects. Our experts say removing nightshades from your diet out of an abundance of caution might make it harder for you to eat healthily: these vegetables are chock full of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, capsaicin, potassium, and beta carotene.

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