Is your diet affecting your arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects some people with psoriasis. If you have it, you might experience flare-ups, or times when your symptoms get worse. Adjusting your diet might help keep your symptoms under control.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), there’s little scientific evidence that diet affects psoriatic symptoms. However, many people claim that avoiding certain foods helps. Keeping a log of your eating habits and symptoms might help you identify foods that seem to trigger flare-ups.

Consult your doctor before changing your diet drastically, especially if you take systemic medications to control psoriatic arthritis inflammation and stiffness.

Cutting back on the amount of sugar in your diet might ease your psoriatic arthritis symptoms while improving your overall health. Sugar might increase inflammation in your body, warns the Arthritis Foundation. Since it’s high in calories, it can also contribute to weight gain, putting more pressure on your achy joints.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with strawberries instead of baked goods, candy, or soda. This fiber-rich fruit contains compounds that appear to help your body ward off inflammation, report researchers in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Other berries have also been shown to reduce inflammatory stress.

Fatty red meats can trigger inflammation in your body, warns the NPF. This may make your symptoms worse.

Consider embracing a plant-based diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. You can meet your protein needs by eating a variety of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. When you do eat meat, choose lean options, such as fish and poultry. Stick to portions that measure 3 ounces, or about the size of your palm.

Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are rich sources of protein, calcium, and nutrients. But according to the NPF, they can also cause inflammation in your body. You might benefit from limiting or avoiding dairy products. Ask your doctor about the potential benefits and downsides of avoiding this nutrient-rich food group.

Eating too many saturated fats can lead to weight gain, putting more pressure on your joints. It can also increase your cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. Since people with arthritis are at higher risk of heart problems, it’s important that you manage your cholesterol, advises the Arthritis Foundation.

Limit saturated fats in your diet by saving fast foods, baked goods, and other fat-laden snacks for the occasional treat. Use unsaturated fats, such as olive, safflower, grapeseed, avocado, or walnut oil, to cook. These “healthy” fats have anti-inflammatory properties and taste great too.

Load up on colorful fruits and veggies to boost your antioxidant intake and give your body the nutrients it needs to thrive. According to the NPF, colorful fruits and veggies have been shown to reduce inflammation. They’re also rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and other nutrients.

Some nutritious choices include carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, blueberries, strawberries, figs, and mangos.

Eating right is key to staying healthy, especially when you live with a chronic condition. But there’s much more you can do to manage your health and psoriatic arthritis.

For example, adjusting your posture can reduce the strain on your joints. Practicing a few simple daily stretches and exercises can help prevent hand stiffness. Regular exercise also fosters physical and emotional well-being.

Learn more about psoriatic arthritis and what you can do to keep your symptoms at bay.