Foods to Avoid When Managing Psoriasis

Foods to Avoid When Managing Psoriasis

For the more than 8 million Americans with psoriasis, nutrition may play a role in how the body handles inflammation. Psoriasis is an immune-related skin condition that causes skin to build up and develop thick, itchy scales. 

At Valerius Medical Group & Research Center in Los Alamitos, California, board-certified rheumatologists Nathaniel Neal, MD, and Rebekah Neal-Kraal, MD, help people with a full range of autoimmune conditions, including psoriasis. Our team can help you best manage your symptoms and improve the health of your skin. 

Along with medications, and medicated creams, making some changes to your diet may also help manage psoriasis

What is the connection between diet and psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition in which the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. This causes the overproduction of skin cells and the formation of plaques on the skin. Plaques are scaly, irritated spots. Sometimes psoriasis is accompanied by the inflammatory joint disease psoriatic arthritis.

The link between diet and psoriasis is the fact that various foods can contribute to inflammation throughout the body. And this broad inflammation can worsen psoriasis symptoms in some individuals. 

How do certain foods promote inflammation?

Research is ongoing into exactly how some foods contribute to an inflammatory response. Certain foods, particularly highly processed ones, can stimulate the body's defense mechanisms.

For instance, fatty diets can exacerbate inflammation in adipose tissue (body fat), which is distributed throughout the body. Persistent inflammation of fat tissue can increase the chances of a psoriasis flare-up. 

Which foods are potentially problematic?

In general, foods that can contribute to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease can also be inflammatory. Here are some common types of foods that can cause inflammation and exacerbate psoriasis symptoms


Dairy foods are often heavy in fat, which can cause inflammation in many individuals. For example, lactose intolerant individuals are deficient in lactase, which is an enzyme that helps in the digestion process. If they consume dairy products repeatedly, this can lead to chronic gastrointestinal irritation, which, in turn, can exacerbate inflammation.

For some individuals, psoriasis symptoms improve when dairy is eliminated from their diet. Small amounts of low-fat dairy likely won’t cause problems, but you may want to avoid dairy for a few weeks to see if your psoriasis symptoms lessen. 

Refined carbohydrates

Highly processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries, are stripped of important nutrients. Furthermore, these foods often contain lots of sugar, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Additionally, refined carbs can lead to an influx of certain chemicals in the blood that can cause inflammation. 

Foods rich in saturated fat

Red meat, cheese, fried foods, fast food, and many processed snacks contain fats that are known to cause inflammation in the body. These fats can boost your levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), known as "bad cholesterol." Research has shown that saturated fat may aggravate psoriasis symptoms, so experts believe that cutting back on saturated fat may reduce symptoms.

Foods high in added sugar

Added sugars in soda, fruit juices, candy, baked goods, and other sweets are distinct from natural sugars in food. Excessive amounts of added sugar can trigger the release of insulin and push the body to store excess energy in fat cells. 

In addition, foods high in added sugars can also cause an increase in inflammatory protein levels. 

Gluten-containing foods

Many people are aware that the symptoms of celiac disease are often triggered by the consumption of gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. However, many researchers also believe there may be a link between psoriasis and celiac disease, and gluten may play a part. Consequently, researchers suggest that reducing the intake of gluten may help reduce symptoms in individuals who have psoriasis, celiac disease, or both. 


Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to chronic inflammation. Additionally, alcohol can destroy the beneficial bacteria in your stomach, which can lead to inflammation in your colon and intestines. If you’re struggling to manage psoriasis, it may be best to avoid alcohol. 

If you have psoriasis, the expert team at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center can help you get it under control. To learn more, call 562-294-6533 to book an appointment with one of our providers today.

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