Living with psoriasis can affect every part of your well-being, introducing symptoms that appear from your scalp to your skin to your joints. It’s a disease that’s all about inflammation, and it can come and go throughout your lifetime in the form of regular flare-ups. But, like so many ailments and health concerns, what you eat is just as key in coping with psoriasis as other treatment options.
Psoriasis is the result of inflammation that’s caused by a dysfunctioning immune system. In order to combat the symptoms and the painful, discomforting flares of this condition, targeting the source of inflammation within the body is key. And one way to do this is by choosing the right anti-inflammatory foods.
Though psoriasis currently has no cure, lifestyle changes and new habits can help combat its effect on your everyday life. Certain foods may hold promise and potential benefits for those living with psoriasis, and some may even help you reduce flare-ups. Give these four psoriasis-friendly foods a try, and see if they can offer you relief.
1. Fish and seafood
Different varieties of fish and types of seafood are good for you regardless of whether or not you’re living with psoriasis – but these foods are particularly beneficial for fighting inflammation.
Incorporating fish and seafood into your diet has been proven to decrease levels of inflammation, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. It’s all thanks to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids present in most types of fish. And choosing fatty fish or cold-water fish, like salmon, mackerel or even canned tuna packed in water, can offer a highly beneficial dose of omega-3s.
But it isn’t just the inclusion of omega-3s that makes fish and seafood psoriasis-friendly foods. These foods offer alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), three types of fatty acids that have positive effects on the immune system.
Additionally, certain types of fish can also be a great source of vitamin D. This is a vitamin that’s particularly beneficial for the skin. Since so many psoriasis symptoms directly affect your skin, eating fish like salmon and mackerel can do double-duty, giving you both omega-3s to combat inflammation and vitamin D to combat skin plaques and uncomfortable symptoms.
2. Olive oil
Olive oil, particularly extra-virgin olive oil, is another key ingredient in a healthy diet. But for those living with psoriasis, it offers health benefits beyond the cardiovascular system.
It’s recommended that those with psoriasis avoid hydrogenated oils and the trans fats they include; trans fats of any kind can increase inflammation, leading to psoriasis flares. Instead, you’ll want to choose olive oil as your alternative.
Extra-virgin olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation within the body. It’s also believed that EVOO reduces inflammatory markers, which can in turn improve the physical symptoms associated with psoriasis.
Research shows that olive oil also offers other anti-inflammatory benefits, as it can act as an immunomodulator, helping the immune system to better regulate itself. This, in turn, may be able to reduce or control flares and symptoms.
3. Beverages fortified with vitamin D
As we mentioned above, vitamin D shows potential promise for those with psoriasis. For years, vitamin D has been a go-to topical treatment in ointment form for psoriasis. So, consuming this vitamin may also offer skin soothing benefits.
Vitamin D is a powerhouse for psoriasis because it actually changes the way cells grow. Psoriasis typically causes faster or uncontrolled skin cell growth, which in turn leads to physical symptoms like scaly, red skin or dry and cracked skin. However, with vitamin D, these changes may be able to be reduced.
Research is still somewhat limited, but the National Psoriasis Foundation does suggest adding vitamin D into your diet through food, not supplements. You can get more vitamin D through milk – nonfat, whole fat, and even reduced fat varieties are all good choices. Orange juice, specifically orange juice that’s fortified with vitamin D, is another great option.
Beverages that are fortified with vitamin D are particularly good choices because they include an increased amount of this important nutrient. It also makes it easy to assess whether or not you’re getting enough each day.
4. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are another go-to component in a healthy diet. But when you’re living with psoriasis, you’ll want to take some extra care when choosing which fruits and vegetables you eat most often.
Center your fruit and veggies on choices that are high in antioxidants. The more antioxidants in a particular fruit or vegetable, the more anti-inflammatory compounds you’ll be eating. Additionally, research dating back to 2003 shows that a lack of antioxidants, or an imbalance in oxidants and antioxidants within the body, can actually lead to psoriasis skin lesions. Making sure you’re getting enough antioxidants naturally through food can potentially help combat uncomfortable skin symptoms.
Some great antioxidant-rich choices include:
- Brussels sprouts
A good rule of thumb when choosing fruits is to pick darker fruits rather than lighter fruits. The same goes for veggies; dark, leafy greens pack a lot of antioxidants in each serving.
Think anti-inflammatory above all else
When it comes to choosing psoriasis-friendly foods, it’s important to keep inflammation in mind. Foods that can increase inflammation are more likely to increase the chance of flare-ups and the onset of uncomfortable symptoms. Choosing known anti-inflammatory foods, however, may offer the opposite effect.
To get good anti-inflammatory eating habits into practice, give our 7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Kickstart or Two Weeks of Anti-Inflammatory Eating meal plans a try. You can also give psoriasis-friendly foods and ingredients a try in recipes like our Turmeric Carrot Muffins and Curry Salmon and Collards.