Despite a myriad of claims that what a person eats will affect his or her psoriasis, there is no scientific evidence yet to show that certain foods worsen the condition, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
Doctors recommend that people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis do what everyone should do: Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight.
Keeping your weight at an optimum level not only helps to reduce the severity of psoriasis, it also helps lessen the risk of developing related diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, the NPF advises.
Though certain foods may neither improve nor aggravate your symptoms, Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, dermatopathologist and immunodermatologist in Rochester, Minn. encourages people with psoriasis to eat a diet that focuses on:
• Whole grains
• Low-fat dairy products
• Lean meats and fish
A number of studies also have shown that supplementing your diet with fish oil — which provides polyunsaturated fatty acids needed to maintain healthy skin — may improve symptoms, Gibson said in an article on MayoClinic.com.
“A healthy diet, especially when combined with exercise, can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight — factors that may improve psoriasis symptoms. If you're overweight, losing weight may also improve the effectiveness of your psoriasis medication,” he said.
A 2005 review article looking at food associations published in the British Journal of Dermatology noted that some people with psoriasis show an elevated sensitivity to gluten and do better when they eat a gluten-free diet.
Other studies have shown psoriasis symptoms improved for patients during fasting periods, and when eating vegetarian diets or low-carbohydrate diets.
“Most diet and psoriasis success stories are 'anecdotal,'” cautioned Dr. Joel M. Gelfand, assistant professor of dermatology and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and a past member of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board.