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When you have psoriasis, reducing triggers is an important part of managing your condition and avoiding flare-ups. Psoriasis flare-ups can be caused by a variety of triggers. These triggers may include bad weather, excess stress, and certain foods.

Let’s take a look at the foods that are most likely to trigger a psoriasis flare-up. There are some foods that are helpful to incorporate and certain diets to consider when creating a treatment plan for your psoriasis.

The foods listed below have been reported to trigger flare-ups, but they may not affect all those affected by psoriasis.

With psoriasis, it’s important to avoid foods that can trigger inflammation. Inflammation and the immune system response can lead to a flare-up.

Red meat and dairy

Both red meat and dairy, especially eggs, contain a polyunsaturated fatty acid called arachidonic acid. Past research has shown that by-products of arachidonic acid may play a role in creating psoriatic lesions.

Foods to avoid include:

  • red meat, especially beef
  • sausage, bacon, and other processed red meats
  • eggs and egg dishes

Gluten

Celiac disease is a health condition characterized by an autoimmune response to the protein gluten. People with psoriasis have been found to have increased markers for gluten sensitivity. If you have psoriasis and a gluten sensitivity, it’s important to cut out gluten-containing foods.

Foods to avoid include:

  • wheat and wheat derivatives
  • rye, barley, and malt
  • pasta, noodles, and baked goods containing wheat, rye, barley, and malt
  • certain processed foods
  • certain sauces and condiments
  • beer and malt beverages

Processed foods

Eating too many processed, high-calorie foods can lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and a variety of chronic health conditions. Certain conditions such as these cause chronic inflammation in the body, which may be linked to psoriasis flare-ups.

Foods to avoid include:

  • processed meats
  • prepackaged food products
  • canned fruits and vegetables
  • any processed foods high in sugar, salt, and fat

Nightshades

One of the most commonly reported triggers for psoriasis flare-ups is the consumption of nightshades. Nightshade plants contain solanine, which has been known to affect digestion in humans and may be a cause of inflammation.

Foods to avoid include:

  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • eggplants
  • peppers

Alcohol

Autoimmune flare-ups are linked to the health of the immune system. Alcohol is believed to be a psoriasis trigger due to its disruptive effects on the various pathways of the immune system. If you have psoriasis, it may be best to drink alcohol very sparingly.

With psoriasis, a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can help to reduce the severity of a flare-up.

Fruits and vegetables

Almost all anti-inflammatory diets include fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which are compounds that decrease oxidative stress and inflammation. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is recommended for inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis.

Foods to eat include:

  • broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
  • leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and arugula
  • berries, including blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
  • cherries, grapes, and other dark fruits

Fatty fish

A diet high in fatty fish can provide the body with anti-inflammatory omega-3s. The intake of omega-3s has been linked to a decrease of inflammatory substances and overall inflammation.

Fish to eat include:

  • salmon, fresh and canned
  • sardines
  • trout
  • cod

It should be noted that there is still more research that needs to be done on the link between omega-3s and psoriasis.

Heart-healthy oils

Like fatty fish, certain vegetable oils also contain anti-inflammatory fatty acids. It’s important to focus on oils that have a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

Oils to eat include:

  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • flaxseed oil
  • safflower oil

Nutritional supplements

A 2013 review of research literature showed that nutritional supplements may help reduce inflammation in psoriasis. Fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and selenium have all been researched for psoriasis.

Benefits of supplementation with these nutrients may include a decrease in the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Not all diets are good for psoriasis. Here are some options you may want to consider when choosing the best diet for your condition.

Dr. Pagano diet

Dr. Pagano was well known within the health and wellness community for his approach to healing psoriasis through diet. In his book, Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative, he describes how a healthy diet and lifestyle can improve psoriasis naturally.

Dr. Pagano’s dietary approach includes:

  • consuming high amounts of fruits and vegetables
  • limiting grains, meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs
  • completely avoiding red meat, nightshades, citrus fruits, processed foods, and more

A 2017 survey of more than 1,200 people with psoriasis indicated that the Pagano diet is one of the most successful diets for improving psoriasis outcomes.

Gluten-free

In people who have both psoriasis and gluten sensitivities, a gluten-free diet may provide some improvement. One small 2018 study found that even people with mild gluten sensitivities can benefit from following a gluten-free diet.

Of the 13 participants who were placed on a gluten-free diet, all observed an improvement in their psoriatic lesions. The biggest benefit was observed for those participants with the strongest sensitivity.

Vegan

A vegan diet may also benefit people with psoriasis. This diet is naturally low in inflammatory foods such as red meat and dairy. It’s high in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, and healthy oils.

Like the Dr. Pagano diet, the vegan diet also showed favorable results in study participants with psoriasis.

Speak with your doctor about following a vegan diet, as you need to be careful to get all the nutrients you need.

Mediterranean

The Mediterranean Diet is well known for its numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of certain chronic diseases. This diet focuses on foods that are high in antioxidants and healthy fats. It limits foods that are often considered to be pro-inflammatory.

In a 2015 study, researchers found that people with psoriasis are less likely to be consuming a Mediterranean-type diet than their healthy counterparts. They also found that those who did adhere to elements of the Mediterranean diet had a lower disease severity.

Paleo

The paleo diet places an emphasis on eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Since many whole foods contain anti-inflammatory compounds, this diet may prove to be beneficial for people with psoriasis.

Unlike Dr. Pagano’s diet, it involves eating plenty of meat and fish. However, the 2017 research suggests that the paleo diet is the third most effective diet in people with psoriasis.

Autoimmune protocol diet

The autoimmune protocol diet (AIP) focuses on eliminating foods that might cause inflammation. This diet is incredibly restrictive and primarily includes vegetables and meat, with certain oils and herbs mixed in.

It might not be appropriate for people with psoriasis, as too much meat is considered a trigger for flare-ups. In addition, it’s not intended to be a long-term dietary intervention.

Keto

This popular low-carb diet has many touted health benefits, such as weight loss and improved nutrient markers. It’s true that reducing carbohydrates can help reduce processed food intake.

However, reducing carbohydrates also means reducing many anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables. It also necessitates increasing protein from meat. Because certain keto foods can be triggers in people with psoriasis, this diet may not be recommended.

Many autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis can benefit from dietary changes. If you have psoriasis, you may find it beneficial to include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and healthy oils.

You may also want to avoid pro-inflammatory foods, such as meat, dairy, and processed foods. These dietary changes may help to reduce the frequency and severity of your flare-ups.

It’s always best to reach out to a physician or nutritionist for more information on how your diet can help control your condition.