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Everything you need to know about diet and psoriasis

These foods may help you control this chronic condition.

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Curology Team
Jan 24, 2023 · 7 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Here at Curology, we currently focus on the diagnosis and treatment of acne, rosacea, and anti-aging concerns. We do not treat many of the conditions mentioned in this article, namely psoriasis. This article is for information purposes only. 

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that can cause red, scaly patches on the skin. If you have psoriasis, discovering what triggers it can be an essential piece of the puzzle, especially because various factors can cause flare-ups.

A common trigger for many people with psoriasis is diet. Although some foods may worsen your symptoms, others may provide some much-needed relief. We did some research on psoriasis and diet and here’s what you need to know.

woman suffering from autoimmune dermatological skin

Psoriasis and food 

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory¹ autoimmune disorder of the skin characterized by red, scaly plaques. It most often affects the scalp, the lower back, and the skin that covers joints such as the knees and elbows. There’s no cure for psoriasis, and the severity of symptoms can depend on your exposure to triggers (factors that cause flare-ups).

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease and affects slightly less than 5% of the population. There may be a genetic component to the condition, as it tends to run in families. Psoriasis occurs in people of all ages, but symptoms typically first arise around age 20. Common psoriasis triggers include stress, infection, obesity, smoking, and—you guessed it—certain foods.² 

The efficacy of different psoriasis treatments can vary between individuals, including which diets work well and which don’t. Generally speaking, dermatology providers (including our own) recommend following a well-balanced, healthy diet. This can benefit your body’s overall health, including your skin's. Although healing psoriasis with diet alone isn’t possible, eating certain foods and avoiding others may help you avoid flare-ups and live more comfortably.

woman rejecting glass of alcohol

Foods to avoid with psoriasis 

Psoriasis has several common dietary triggers. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to controlling flare-ups, but certain foods may be more likely to aggravate symptoms. Consider avoiding the following foods if you have psoriasis:

  • Alcohol: Research shows that consuming alcohol may exacerbate psoriasis symptoms and that psoriasis patients may consume a higher amount of alcohol on average. Alcohol may aggravate skin inflammation, increase itchiness, and impair the skin barrier due to reduced hydration.³ 

  • Sugar: The excessive intake of processed foods with high volumes of simple sugars, such as sucrose and fructose, may worsen psoriasis symptoms.⁴ 

  • Fat: Psoriasis patients have been shown to have a higher intake of fat, including saturated fatty acids and carbohydrates, than those without psoriasis. Saturated fatty acids may worsen psoriasis symptoms.⁵ This does not mean you should avoid all fat! And remember, healthy fats (such as those found in nuts, seeds, and fish) are a great option. 

  • Red meat: Consuming an abundance of red meat, such as beef and pork, is linked to psoriasis flare-ups, which may be related in part to the presence of heme iron molecules.⁶ Remember, all things are in moderation.

Foods that may help with psoriasis 

Studies show that psoriasis symptoms may be alleviated with proper nutrition, and your diet may play a significant role in the condition’s development and progress. Several foods are associated with potential symptom relief. Regularly adding these foods and vitamins to your plate may help fight flare-ups and psoriasis symptoms: 

  • Vitamins D:⁷ Research is limited, but vitamin D may help relieve symptoms by slowing down the skin cell growth associated with psoriasis. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, milk, and fortified orange juice are excellent dietary sources of vitamin D.⁸

  • Low glycemic index (GI) foods: Low-GI foods—whole-grain cereals, unprocessed vegetables, and certain fruits—may help psoriasis symptoms. This connection is due to the more frequent occurrence of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, in patients with psoriasis. Avoiding high-GI carbohydrates, such as refined sugar, honey, white bread, pasta, and potatoes, may also help.⁹

  • Fish: Patients who consumed fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids self-reported an improvement in their psoriasis symptoms.¹⁰ Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to decrease inflammation, a possible factor in improving psoriasis symptoms.¹¹

  • Fibrous foods: Foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals, may help reduce oxidative stress, potentially reducing psoriasis symptoms.¹²

  • Heart-healthy oils: Switching from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to heart-healthy oils, such as olive oil, can help reduce unhealthy fats in your diet.¹³ As previously mentioned, diets high in unhealthy fats are linked to psoriasis.

woman with grocery shops and phone

Diets to help psoriasis

Studies show that certain diets, including gluten-free and Mediterranean meal plans, may offer promising results when it comes to controlling psoriasis symptoms. Nutrition from whole foods plays a more important role than supplementation, as supplements generally don’t show strong evidence of providing the same benefits.¹⁴ The following diet plans may help improve and manage psoriasis symptoms: 

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, cereals, and extra-virgin olive oil. These ingredients may act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation. Meat, dairy products, animal fats, and eggs should be limited. In one study, individuals with psoriasis who ate a Mediterranean diet showed less severe symptoms, but more research is needed to know how this diet affects psoriasis.¹⁵,¹⁶

Gluten-free diet

Although it’s not proven that gluten contributes to psoriasis, several studies have documented an association between this condition and gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.¹⁷ In one study, patients with both psoriasis and gluten sensitivity followed a gluten-free diet, completely eliminating all foods containing gluten (such as bread and pasta), and 73% saw a reduction in psoriasis symptoms.¹⁸ That said, a gluten-free diet is only recommended for individuals with psoriasis who are also sensitive to gluten.¹⁹

Vegetarian diet

Swapping out the meat and animal products in your diet for fruits, vegetables, cereals, and legumes may reduce the amount of saturated fat you’re consuming. It replaces them with beneficial antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and may boost potassium levels. Studies show that a diet rich in vegetables and fruit may significantly improve psoriasis symptoms.²⁰

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A healthy body includes healthy skin, and a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that benefits your overall health. If you think you’re experiencing psoriasis or another serious and chronic skin condition, seek help from your medical provider. When it comes to skin conditions such as acne, signs of aging, hyperpigmentation, oily skin, or rosacea, Curology’s licensed dermatology providers are happy to help you.

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FAQs

Which foods to avoid with psoriasis?

Psoriasis has several common dietary triggers. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to controlling flare-ups, but certain foods may be more likely to aggravate symptoms.

  • Alcohol: Research shows that consuming alcohol may exacerbate psoriasis symptoms and that psoriasis patients may consume a higher amount of alcohol on average.

  • Sugar: The excessive intake of processed foods with high volumes of simple sugars, such as sucrose and fructose, may worsen psoriasis symptoms. 

  • Fat: Psoriasis patients have been shown to have a higher intake of fat, including saturated fatty acids and carbohydrates, than those without psoriasis.

  • Red meat: Consuming an abundance of red meat, such as beef and pork, is linked to psoriasis flare-ups, which may be related in part to the presence of heme iron molecules.

Foods that may help with psoriasis?

Several foods are associated with potential symptom relief. Regularly adding these foods and vitamins to your plate may help fight flare-ups and psoriasis symptoms: 

  • Vitamins D: Research is limited, but vitamin D may help relieve symptoms by slowing down the skin cell growth associated with psoriasis.

  • Low glycemic index (GI) foods: Low-GI foods—whole-grain cereals, unprocessed vegetables, and certain fruits—may help psoriasis symptoms.

  • Fish: Patients who consumed fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids self-reported an improvement in their psoriasis symptoms.

  • Fibrous foods: Foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals, may help reduce oxidative stress, potentially reducing psoriasis symptoms.

  • Heart-healthy oils: Switching from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to heart-healthy oils, such as olive oil, can help reduce unhealthy fats in your diet.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Wu, A.G., Weinberg, J.M. The impact of diet on psoriasis. Cutis. (2019).

  2. Nair, P.A., Badri, T. Psoriasis. StatPearls. (2022).

  3. Kanda, N., et al. Nutrition and Psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. (2020).

  4. Kanda, N., et al. Nutrition and Psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. Ibid.

  5. Kanda, N., et al. Nutrition and Psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. Ibid.

  6. Kanda, N., et al. Nutrition and Psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. Ibid.

  7. Kanda, N., et al. Nutrition and Psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. Ibid.

  8.  Dietary Modifications. National Psoriasis Foundation. (2022).

  9. Garbicz, J., et al. Nutritional Therapy in Persons Suffering from Psoriasis. Nutrients. (2021).

  10. Chung, M., et al. Dietary Intervention and Supplements in the Management of Psoriasis: Current Perspectives. Psoriasis (Auckl). (2022).

  11. Dietary Modifications. National Psoriasis Foundation. Ibid.

  12. Garbicz, J., et al. Nutritional Therapy in Persons Suffering from Psoriasis. Nutrients. Ibid.

  13. Dietary Modifications. National Psoriasis Foundation. Ibid.

  14. Chung, M., et al. Dietary Intervention and Supplements in the Management of Psoriasis: Current Perspectives. Psoriasis (Auckl). Ibid.

  15. Garbicz, J., et al. Nutritional Therapy in Persons Suffering from Psoriasis. Nutrients. Ibid.

  16. Ludmann, P. What should I eat if I have psoriasis?American Academy of Dermatology Association. (2020).

  17. Kanda, N., et al. Nutrition and Psoriasis. Int J Mol Sci. Ibid.

  18. Ludmann, P. What should I eat if I have psoriasis?American Academy of Dermatology Association. Ibid.

  19. Ford, A,R., et al. Dietary Recommendations for Adults With Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation: A Systematic Review. JAMA Dermatol. (2018).

  20. Garbicz, J., et al. Nutritional Therapy in Persons Suffering from Psoriasis. Nutrients. Ibid.

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary. 

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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