Arthritis is a group of conditions that are characterized by joint pain and inflammation. There are many types of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is a type of chronic arthritis that occurs most often in people with the skin condition psoriasis.

Making dietary changes can help you manage psoriatic arthritis 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 psoriatic arthritis.

A kitchen scene: Three salmon fillets in a pain on a stove, a person is stood over it, cracking black pepper into the pan.Share on Pinterest
Photography by Aya Brackett

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

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 psoriatic arthritis, omega-3 supplementation may reduce:

  • disease activity
  • joint tenderness
  • skin discoloration

The best food sources of omega-3s include:

  • fatty fish such as salmon and tuna
  • seaweed and algae
  • hemp seeds
  • flaxseed oil
  • flaxseed and chia seeds
  • walnuts
  • edamame

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.

There are plenty of naturally occurring antioxidants in food sources.

Try to fill your shopping basket with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices. And there’s no need to skip the espresso — coffee beans are a great source of antioxidants!

The best food sources of antioxidants include:

  • dark berries
  • dark, leafy greens
  • nuts
  • dried ground spices
  • dark chocolate
  • tea and coffee

High fiber whole grains

Obesity is a risk factor for psoriatic arthritis, 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.

Some of the best food sources of whole grains are:

  • whole wheat
  • corn
  • whole oats
  • quinoa
  • brown and wild rice

While prioritizing anti-inflammatory fats, vegetables, and grains can help reduce psoriatic arthritis 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 who have 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 higher fasting insulin levels.

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

  • almond milk
  • soy milk
  • coconut milk
  • hemp milk
  • flax milk
  • plant-based yogurts

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
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood sugar levels

In addition, many highly processed foods are cooked using omega-6-rich oils such as:

  • corn
  • sunflower
  • peanut oil

Omega-6 fatty acids demonstrate a pro-inflammatory pattern, so it’s important to keep their consumption reasonable.

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

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

Keto diet

The link between the ketogenic (keto) diet and psoriatic arthritis is still evolving. This low carb, high fat diet can be helpful to some in losing 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 psoriatic arthritis might benefit from the keto diet.

Gluten-free diet

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

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

Paleo diet

The paleo diet emphasizes choosing foods similar to those 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 psoriatic arthritis symptoms in some people.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet includes fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats. Red meat, dairy, and processed foods are rarely eaten.

A small 2016 study found that people with osteoarthritis who followed a Mediterranean diet for 16 weeks experienced weight loss and reduced inflammation. Further research also suggests that the diet can reduce pain and disability related to arthritis.

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 designed 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 is 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 products
  • processed foods
  • refined sugars
  • industrially produced seed oils

If you have psoriatic arthritis, 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 psoriatic arthritis.