Arthritis is a group of conditions characterized by joint pain and inflammation. There are many types. PsA occurs most often in people with psoriasis.

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About 20% of people with psoriasis also develop PsA, though it can also occur without psoriasis in some cases.

Dietary changes can help you manage PsA symptoms by reducing inflammation and disease activity.

Here are some suggestions on foods to eat, foods to avoid, and various diets you may want to try to manage your PsA.

Anti-inflammatory foods are an important part of potentially reducing painful flare-ups of PsA.

Many types of foods can have anti-inflammatory properties.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2018 study suggests that, in people with PsA, omega-3 supplementation may reduce:

  • disease activity
  • joint tenderness
  • skin discoloration

Food sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, hemp seeds, and edamame, among others.

High antioxidant fruits and vegetables

Antioxidants are compounds that reduce the harmful oxidative stress from chronic inflammation.

A 2018 study that compared people with rheumatoid arthritis to people without the condition suggests that many people with arthritis have a low antioxidant status.

Lack of antioxidants was linked with increased disease activity and duration, so try to fill your shopping basket with foods that contain them, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices. Food sources of antioxidants include nuts, dark chocolate, leafy greens, and coffee.

High fiber whole grains

Obesity is a risk factor for PsA, and excess body fat can have an inflammatory effect on your body.

Prioritizing high fiber whole grains in your diet can help you manage your blood sugar levels, reduce your risk of heart disease, and reduce inflammation in your body.

Food sources of whole grains include oats, quinoa, and brown rice.

While prioritizing anti-inflammatory fats, vegetables, and grains can help reduce PsA risk and severity, limiting other types of food can also be beneficial.

Red meat

Diets high in red meat and processed meat products may play a role in weight gain and inflammation.

In a large cohort study published in 2017, a high intake of fatty red meat was associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) in all cases. The researchers noted that a high BMI is associated with negative changes in the hormones that regulate hunger and insulin secretion.


In people with an intolerance or allergy, eating dairy can activate the immune system and cause low grade, chronic inflammation in the gut.

A small 2017 study also found that people who consumed a high dairy diet for 4 weeks had higher insulin resistance and fasting insulin levels.

If you’re concerned about your body’s reaction to dairy, you may want to try dairy alternatives.

Highly processed foods

Highly processed foods and drinks are high in excess sugar, salt, and fat. These types of foods are linked to inflammatory conditions such as obesity and high cholesterol.

In addition, many highly processed foods are cooked using omega-6-rich oils such as corn or sunflower oil, which demonstrate a pro-inflammatory pattern. For this reason, it’s important to keep their consumption reasonable.

Some people tout certain diets as beneficial for health conditions. Here we look at several popular diets and how they may affect psoriasis and PsA.

Note that the approaches to these diets vary widely — some even provide conflicting guidance. Also, there is limited evidence that these diets actually improve PsA.

Keto diet

The link between the ketogenic (keto) diet and PsA is still evolving. This low carb, high fat diet can help some people lose weight, which is a factor in reducing symptoms.

While losing weight can have anti-inflammatory effects, research shows mixed results for the diet’s effect on psoriasis.

More studies are needed to determine whether people with PsA might benefit from the keto diet.

Gluten-free diet

A gluten-free diet isn’t necessary for everyone with PsA.

However, for people who have celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, a gluten-free diet can help reduce the severity of PsA flare-ups and improve disease management.

Paleo diet

The paleo diet emphasizes choosing foods similar to those that our ancestors would have eaten.

Examples of food choices include:

  • nuts
  • fruits
  • veggies
  • seeds

If you eat meat, try to choose lean meats over fatty red meats. There’s a link between red meat, inflammation, and disease. It’s also recommended that you choose meat from free-range and grass-fed animals.

The National Psoriasis Foundation suggests that certain diets, including the paleo diet, can potentially promote weight loss, which may help improve PsA symptoms in some people.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet includes fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats. People following this diet rarely eat red meat, dairy, and processed foods.

Research from 2020 suggests that following this diet may be correlated with a lower level of disease activity, which may mean fewer or less intense flares.

This diet is generally known for its anti-inflammatory effect when it comes to various chronic diseases, though more research may be needed to determine if an exact cause-and-effect exists between eating this diet and reduced symptoms of PsA specifically.

Pagano diet

Dr. John Pagano created the Pagano diet to help his patients reduce the incidence of psoriasis and eczema.

In a national survey on dietary behaviors, those who followed the Pagano diet reported the most favorable skin responses.

Principles of the Pagano diet include avoiding foods such as:

  • red meat
  • nightshade vegetables
  • processed foods
  • citrus fruits

Instead, Pagano recommends eating lots of fruits and vegetables. He says these are alkaline-forming foods that help reduce inflammation in the body.

AIP diet

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is a type of elimination diet that aims to reduce inflammation in your body. While some people say it’s like a paleo diet, others may find it more restrictive.

The diet mostly involves eating meats, fermented foods, and vegetables. And because it’s an elimination-focused diet, it isn’t intended to be followed long term.

The diet has a long list of foods to avoid, such as grains, dairy, and refined sugars.

What triggers a flare-up of psoriatic arthritis?

Triggers of PsA flare-ups can include not only your diet but also factors such as stress, smoking, injury to your skin, infections, and certain medications.

Can you heal psoriatic arthritis?

There’s no cure for PsA — it’s a chronic condition. That said, treatment can help you manage flares, slow the progression, and protect your joints from damage.

How do you calm a psoriatic arthritis flare-up?

Getting proper treatment and following your doctor’s directions can help you reduce the frequency and intensity of flares. It’s also helpful to avoid or limit known triggers by managing your stress, quitting smoking (if you smoke), eating anti-inflammatory foods, and getting regular exercise.

When you’re experiencing a flare, you can try putting ice for swelling or a heating pad for pain and stiffness in the affected area. Ask your doctor about skin creams that might help reduce inflammation and pain.

If you have PsA, a healthy diet can help with symptom management.

Consuming nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, may help reduce inflammation.

Choose a dietary pattern that decreases the risk of weight gain, insulin resistance, and other chronic conditions.

Discussing these options with a healthcare professional and seeking the advice of a dietitian can help you take the first steps in managing your PsA.