We have looked at the facts about nutrition for psoriasis and will answer many questions:
- Can my diet influence the course of psoriasis?
- Which food can promote the inflammation of psoriasis?
- Which foods can have an anti-inflammatory effect?
- Does being overweight affect the course of psoriasis?
- Can alcohol be a trigger for psoriasis?
- Do omega-3 fatty acids have a good effect on my skin?
- How can I correctly manage my daily diet with psoriasis?
You will also learn which foods (fruits, vegetables, fats and oils, meat and dairy products, etc.) are particularly good and recommended for a healthy diet with psoriasis and which ones may pose a risk for you.
How are nutrition and psoriasis related?
Since psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, it is at least reasonable to assume that a healthy diet has a positive influence on the development of psoriasis. This is also confirmed by many patients. However, no scientific study has yet been able to establish a clear correlation.
What influence does diet have on my psoriasis? What can or can’t I eat as a psoriasis sufferer? Unfortunately, there is no generally valid answer to these questions. While some people swear by gluten-free diets, others recommend omitting various foods as a therapy. Still, others suggest that with this illness the healing forces of a vegan diet help and therefore eat purely plant-based food.
Some can eat whatever they want. Others, however, notice a clear influence on the disease and their skin with individual foods. There is no super-diet.
Which forms of nutrition are recommended for psoriasis?
The recommended forms of nutrition for psoriasis include
- The Coimbra protocol,
- The autoimmune protocol,
- The Pagano diet,
- The Paleo diet
What is the Coimbra protocol?
The Coimbra protocol was developed by a Brazilian physician, Prof. C. Coimbra. Coimbra is a medical therapy in the form of very high doses of vitamin D, which, based on blood and urine values, is individually adapted to the patient affected.
In addition to the recommended dose of vitamin D, the patients receive specific recommendations on nutrition, drinking habits, sports, stress avoidance and, if necessary, additional nutrients.
Scientific studies prove that vitamin D is not only important for the bones, but also has direct effects on the immune system – and therefore also on autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis. At the same time, it is known today that many patients affected by autoimmune diseases also suffer from a disturbance of the vitamin D balance.
What is the autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
The autoimmune protocol (short: AIP) is based on the assumption that the entire intestinal region has a serious influence on the development of psoriasis. All foods that could irritate the intestine and have an inflammation-promoting effect are removed from the diet. These include cereals, dairy products, sugars and alcohol.
In this sense, AIP is a form of nutrition or diet that is strongly reminiscent of the paleo diet.
What is the Pagano diet?
In the Pagano diet, 80% of food consumed should consist of fruits, vegetables and alkaline foods. The remaining 20% can be cereals, or meat or dairy products, for example.
In his book, Dr. Pagano describes a whole range of foods that have a negative effect on psoriasis. For example, you should avoid nightshade plants (such as tomatoes or potatoes), gluten, citrus fruits, red meat, high-fat dairy products, caffeine, sugar, fried foods and legumes.
By and large, the diet thus means a relatively large cut in the eating habits and in the lives of those affected. Since I have tried the Pagano diet myself for almost six months, I would like to talk briefly about my personal experiences. For me, this form of diet has rather led to frustration, a bad mood and a one-sided diet. My skin has hardly improved after just under six months. The pictures in Pagano’s book of patients who were able to live almost free of any symptoms within the same period of time were unfortunately not able to motivate me to live according to this diet.
Does being overweight have an influence on psoriasis?
Being overweight is considered a factor that can negatively influence the development of psoriasis because it is usually associated with the risk of various accompanying diseases.
The concomitant diseases of overweight:
- High blood pressure,
- Elevated blood lipid values,
- Metabolic diseases and
- Cardiovascular diseases.
Why does being overweight have an effect on psoriasis?
An overly high body mass index is considered one of the biggest risk factors for the aggravation of the skin disease – because
- Friction and
- Heavy strain on the joints
can additionally promote psoriasis. Being overweight also leads to increased skin wrinkles on the body, which in turn form the perfect breeding ground for psoriasis.
What can I do if I am overweight and have psoriasis?
You should change your diet fundamentally. In particular, the meat and fat content should be reduced and white flour should be replaced by healthy wholemeal products.
Although you do not have to completely remove stimulants, such as sweets, from your diet, you should only consume small amounts for the sake of your health.
Please keep your hands-off radical diets, as your weight will usually return to its normal level.
Psoriasis and alcohol – a vicious circle
Alcohol is considered a trigger for psoriasis. Many scientific studies show that psoriasis that has not yet broken out can be brought to light by regular alcohol consumption.
Alcohol can trigger psoriasis. According to studies, alcohol affects the skin even in small amounts – and unfortunately not in a positive way.
There is not only the possibility that the disease could break out – If an affected person consumes alcohol continuously, the severity of psoriasis can also increase. The itching and flaking of the skin are especially increased.
As alcohol is broken down by the liver, further influences on the skin can occur. On the one hand, the appearance of the skin deteriorates, and on the other hand, there can be interactions during therapy with various drugs, which are also processed by the liver.
What influence does alcohol have on the skin?
- Deterioration of the skin texture,
- Increase in itching,
- Possible interactions with drugs,
- Increased stress,
- Increased psychological stress.
Finally, alcohol can also create a vicious circle. Thus, regular consumption of alcohol leads to a deterioration of the skin condition of many people with psoriasis and as a result of increased psychological stress. This in turn can stimulate the increased consumption of alcohol.
The influence of omega-3 on psoriasis
Does omega-3 have an effect on psoriasis? There is a scientific and medical consensus that omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on the appearance of psoriatic skin.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain unsaturated fatty acids, which are found especially in fatty sea fish. These fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, which is why they have also been used for psoriasis for some time.
How does omega-3 work?
Omega-3 works by limiting the intake of arachidonic acid. This acid is believed to play an important role in the development of inflammation. Arachidonic acid is mainly found in animal products such as meat and sausage, but also in high-fat dairy products such as cheese and butter.
What is the right amount of omega-3?
In order to take in sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, the frequent consumption of high-fat sea fish (such as herring, wild salmon or tuna) is recommended. 500-800 grams of fish per week contains approximately the required amount of omega-3.
However, if you are not too fond of fish, you may want to consider taking dietary supplements (such as high-quality fish oil) as a possible option.
Where else can I find omega-3 fatty acids?
The precursors of omega-3 fatty acids are also found in some vegetable oils, such as
- Linseed oil,
- Rapeseed oil,
- Hemp oil,
- Walnut oil and
- Soybean oil.
Omega-3 is not a chemical drug, but it works without any side effects in the body and can help you a lot in the long run. However, a clearly noticeable effect will usually not occur immediately.
What is the difference between omega-3 and omega-6?
While omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, omega-6 fatty acids are particularly pro-inflammatory.
Long-chain unsaturated fatty acids are vital for our body as they are a major component of the brain and cell walls, control fat metabolism and support our immune system. A distinction is made here between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Since omega-6 fatty acids are known to promote inflammation, they should be avoided in the case of psoriasis.
Omega-6 fatty acids are mainly taken in through animal foods such as meat, but also through edible fats such as
- Sunflower oil,
- Safflower oil and
- Corn germ oil.
How should I adjust my diet for psoriasis?
A healthy and balanced diet can at least partially reduce the risk of psoriasis episodes.
It has been proven that alcohol and obesity have a negative effect on the development of psoriasis.
However, it is difficult to give other generally valid tips and suggestions for a healthy diet, as the effects can vary greatly.
For example, people I have spoken to have told me about the irritant effect of preservatives or certain spices (e.g. pepper or paprika). Others could not confirm this. This means that each person has to find out for themselves what is good for them and their health and what is not. A classic psoriasis diet, which is easy to live by, (unfortunately) does not exist.
One of the few reliable findings is that omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and can therefore also help with psoriasis.
Arachidonic acid has exactly the opposite effect. Predominantly found in animal products, this unsaturated fatty acid has a strong anti-inflammatory effect and should therefore be avoided if possible.
What foods contain arachidonic acid?
- Egg yolk,
- Tuna fish,
- Red meat,
- Liver Sausage,
- Lard and
- Cow’s milk (butter, cheese, etc.).
Recommended vs. non-recommended foods for psoriasis
As you have already learned, (unfortunately)there isn’t one true psoriasis diet that you can simply live by and then enjoy the progressive improvement of your skin and psoriasis.
Although every single person affected by this disease has to find out for themselves which foods promote or even aggravate their psoriasis, there is a whole range of recommendations.
These may be able to help you make a conscious decision to change your diet and avoid the potential risk of an additional relapse.
Recommended: apple, orange, watermelon, plum, peach, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, currants, sour cherries, kiwi, nectarines, grapefruit, papaya
Not recommended: canned fruit (sugared), dried fruit (candied), fruit puree (sugared)
Recommended: lettuce, beans, lentils, peas, carrots, cucumbers, fennel, tomatoes, kohlrabi, spinach, zucchini, cabbage (all kinds), asparagus, sauerkraut, radishes, mushrooms (all kinds)
Not recommended: corn, sweet potatoes (only in moderation)
Fats and oils
Recommended: rape oil, walnut oil, olive oil, linseed oil, wheat germ oil, hemp oil, soybean oil
Not recommended: sunflower oil, thistle oil, corn oil, palm oil
Fish and seafood
Recommended: halibut, trout, salmon, carp, mackerel, sardine, sole, turbot, eel, tuna, herring, cod, shellfish: shrimp, lobster, shrimps, crabs, crayfish
Not recommended: Fried fish, fish pickled in cream/mayonnaise
Eggs, milk, dairy products
Recommended: eggs (maximum 2 eggs/week), milk 1.5 % fat, natural yogurt 1.5 % fat, edible quark 20 % fat, buttermilk, kefir
Suitable for limited consumption: cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese, semi-hard cheese, soft cheese
Not recommended: crème fraiche, sour cream, cream, mayonnaise, fruit yogurt and quark, fruit buttermilk, pudding
Recommended: turkey breast, chicken
Strictly in moderation: fillet of beef, veal, game
Not recommended: pork, sausages (except turkey and chicken)
Recommended: water, tea (not sugared), coffee (max. 3 cups/day, without milk), almond, rice, oat milk
Not recommended: alcohol, fruit juices, soft drinks, soy milk
Bread, cereal products
Recommended: wholemeal bread, spelt grain, oat flakes
Not recommended: Toast, white bread, wheat bread, lye bread, puff pastry
Recommended: wholemeal pasta, wholemeal rice, potatoes (not peeled)
Not recommended: durum wheat noodles, mashed potatoes, croquettes, chips, white rice
Recommended: pine, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts
Not recommended: peanuts, salted nuts
Which foods will trigger my psoriasis?
If you are thinking about your diet for the first time, it may be helpful to keep a dietary diary for diseases like psoriasis. This is where you make a note of when you ate and drank something and whether you noticed any changes in your skin afterward. This is also the best way to learn about the risk of your individual triggers.
What is a trigger?
Triggers are certain foods or ingredients in foods and drinks that can act as a catalyst for a psoriasis attack or worsening of the condition.
But remember – what is recognized as a clear trigger in one person does not necessarily have the same negative effect in another person! However, some foods are repeatedly mentioned by numerous patients as triggers for psoriasis.
Which foods are known to be triggers for psoriasis?
- Hot spices (e.g. chili, curry, pepper),
- Citrus fruits,
- Alcohol (especially wine and spirits) and
- Cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, oats, spelt, barley, etc.).
Conclusion on nutrition for psoriasis
All in all, it can be said that the sum of all the measures you take always has a good effect on your health and in our case on your psoriasis:
- Individual therapy,
- Daily skincare,
- Good nutrition,
- Reduced stress,
- Sufficient sleep and relaxation,
- Limited alcohol and nicotine and
Now it is your turn. What did you change in your diet? What helps you and what makes the disease worse?
Share your experiences with us on Facebook and visit our Facebook group! We look forward to learning more from you!
FAQ about nutrition for psoriasis
Does nutrition play a role in psoriasis?
Nutrition can play a crucial role in psoriasis. Factors such as obesity, alcohol and nicotine are considered to trigger the disease. In addition, an anti-inflammatory diet can have a positive influence on psoriasis. There are a number of special nutritional guidelines, so you have to find what’s best for you.
Which diet is the right one for psoriasis?
There’s no way of knowing what diet is best for psoriasis. Every person affected reacts differently and has different triggers. Therefore, it is important that each patient listens to their body and chooses a diet that suits them.
Can I eat anything I want?
Basically yes. However, some foods and being overweight are considered triggers for psoriasis. In addition, each person reacts differently to different foods, which is why an individual diet is recommended.
Should I strictly follow my diet?
The stricter you stick to your diet, the better this usually is for your psoriasis. Please note, however, that an overly radical diet can also cause frustration and thus have a negative influence on your well-being. So always listen to your body.
Which foods are considered to trigger psoriasis?
In science, coffee, citrus fruits, hot spices, some types of nuts, gluten-containing grains and alcohol are considered to be triggers for psoriasis. Being overweight also increases the risk of psoriasis or can worsen it.
Find all sources
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- Sterry W et al.: International Psoriasis Council. Obesity in psoriasis: the metabolic, clinical and therapeutic implications. Report of an interdisciplinary conference and review. In: Br J Dermatol 2007; 157: 649-655.
- Kaimal S, Thappa DM: Diet in dermatology: Revisited. In: IJDVL 2010; 76(2): 103-115.
- Fortes C et al.: Relationship Between Smoking and the Clinical Severity of Psoriasis. In: Archives of Dermatology 2005; 141: 1580-1584.
- Herron MD et al.: Impact of obesity and smoking on psoriasis presentation and management. In: Archives of Dermatology 2005 Dec; 141(12): 1527-1534.
- Calder PC: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology? In: BJCP 2013;75(3):645-662
- Mrowietz U. et al.: Psoriasis. In: Plewig et al. (Hg): Braun-Falco‘s Dermatologie, Venerologie
- Leitlinie der Dt. Dermatologischen Ges. (DDG): Therapie der Psoriasis vulgaris (Stand: Februar 2011)
- Patientenleitlinie des Dt. Psoriasis Bund e.V.: Behandlung der Psoriasis der Haut (Stand: 2011)
- Finamor DC et al (2013) A pilot study assessing the effect of prolonged administration of high daily doses of vitamin D on the clinical course of vitiligo and psoriasis. Dermatoendocrinol 5(1):222-34.
Bernd is one of the founders of Simply Psoriasis. He has been suffering from psoriasis for more than 20 years, but sees the chronic skin disease with more composure than a few years ago (which was a hard work). Nevertheless, he is very keen to make psoriasis easier and more socially accepted.