Foods That Aggravate Psoriasis

If you suffer from recurring psoriasis flare-ups—an autoimmune disorder characterized by rapid skin cell growth that triggers scaly, inflamed, red patches of skin to develop—you may ponder if dietary changes could soothe your symptoms.

The good news is that many medical experts and patients have found that avoiding certain foods on this list can lessen psoriasis outbreaks…

1. Red Meat

According to Healthline certain high-fat foods, such as red meat, have been linked to heightened cholesterol and worsening joint pain. This is because foods that are high in saturated fats, are also prone to inducing inflammation.

In addition to red meat, foods high in saturated fats include cheese, butter, and deep-fried delights. Instead, stick to a mostly plant-based diet and for protein, up your consumption of nuts, seeds, and fatty fish for a boost of inflammatory-blasting omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Nightshade Vegetables

I’m a sucker for roasted nightshade vegetables—to the point where oven roasted tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant feature quite frequently in my meals. However, many medical reports show that psoriasis sufferers claim these veggies from the nightshade family cause inflammation and psoriasis flare ups.

The science research on this claim is lacking. However, the National Psoriasis Foundation maintains that many psoriasis patients report improved symptoms after eliminating nightshade produce from their diets. There’s no harm in trying a trial elimination diet to see if there is a connection, but do so under the guidance of your doctor.

3. Frozen Dinners and Fast Food

The next time you throw a frozen lasagne in the oven for dinner, take a look at the nutritional contents first. What you’ll notice is that there’s a ton of heavily processed ingredients in there, which translates to a whole lot of empty calories and refined sugar.

Sure, picking up frozen or fast food for dinner once in a while is alright, we all get busy. However, keep in mind that these foods are highly processed and have been linked to increased inflammation in the body. If you suffer from psoriasis, refined sugar and flours should be on your “foods to avoid” list.

4. Soda

The medical community often fears placing blame on certain foods as disease triggers. However, numerous studies have indicated a correlation between weight gain (and obesity) and developing psoriasis.

For instance, Dr. Jerry Bagel, a New Jersey-based board-certified dermatologist and recognized expert in the treatment of psoriasis explains that, “Specific molecules secreted from fat cells [can] make psoriasis even worse,” which is why weight management and the avoidance of empty, high-caloric beverages (i.e., soda and mixed cocktails) is vital to any psoriasis patient’s eating regimen.

5. White Bread

While a gluten-free diet to alleviate psoriasis sufferers is considered controversial by many health care professionals, the National Psoriasis Foundation points to research that finds 25-percent of psoriasis patients also suffer from gluten sensitivity. The exact link is the HLA CW6 gene,  which is linked to psoriasis as well as increased gluten (or gliadin protein) sensitivity, pinpointed in a 2010 study published by the National Institutes of Health.

Further research conducted by the Brazilian Annals of Dermatology notes that patients with gluten sensitivity showed significant improvement in psoriasis symptoms when adhering to a gluten-free diet.

6. Sugary Treats

A high-sugar diet may not go hand in hand with psoriasis, but it goes hand in hand with weight gain, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. In fact, researchers have established a link between obesity and increased risk for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and worsened psoriasis severity (if you already have the condition).

Dr. Wilson Liao, the co-authored of a analysis of diet on psoriasis that was published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, explains that that, being obese may trigger psoriasis in those already predisposed to the disorder. Dr. Liao explains this may be due to the secretion of cytokines by fat cells, which trigger inflammation.

7. Alcohol

The Nurses Health Study, conducted in 1991 by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, monitored the diets of 82,869 women, ranging in age between 27 and 44. It found that women who drank beer had an increased chance of developing psoriasis vs. those who didn’t imbibe the brew.

A follow up study, published in the journal Archives of Dermatology, in 2010, found that women who drank non-light beer had an increased the risk for psoriasis due to certain components of the brew (i.e., barley used in fermentation) beer. However, the study found that other alcohol (i.e., wine, liquor), may also trigger psoriasis outbreaks due to  blood vessels dilation, which allows more inflammatory triggers into the skin.