What Foods Trigger Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms?
Last updated: February 2021
Joint inflammation and pain are common in people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA). The cause of these and other symptoms is a little less clear. The symptoms of PsA and their causes can vary from person to person. However, some doctors believe certain foods can trigger psoriatic arthritis symptoms while other foods can lessen them.
Trigger foods for psoriatic arthritis
Alcohol, refined or simple carbohydrates (carbs), saturated fats, and sugar are known to cause inflammation. Refined carbs are often found in breads, candy, cereals, packaged snacks, pastries, processed meats, sodas, and white rice. Many dairy products also contain added sugars.1
Eating inflammatory foods can trigger psoriatic arthritis symptoms in two ways. First, the foods can irritate the body, triggering an inflammatory response marked by heat, pain, redness, and swelling. This is the body’s way of trying to protect itself from something harmful.1
Second, inflammatory foods can lead to weight gain. Excess weight puts pressure on the joints. The joints are already at risk of being affected and damaged in people with PsA.1
People with inflammatory conditions like PsA can benefit from changes to their diet. Some people see a decrease in symptoms after adding, avoiding, or limiting certain foods that may trigger their psoriatic arthritis.
An anti-inflammatory diet is often suggested for people with PsA. This diet consists of foods that are rich in nutrients. Examples include avocado, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish like salmon, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.1
Two well-known anti-inflammatory diets are the Mediterranean diet and the Paleo diet. Both consist of healthy oils, fruits, meats like fish, nuts, and vegetables. They exclude processed foods and sugars and limit carbs and dairy. The Paleo diet does not include legumes (beans and peas) and whole grains like the Mediterranean diet.1
Some doctors suggest a gluten-free diet for people with inflammatory conditions. Gluten is a protein in grains like barley, rye, and wheat. Many processed foods contain gluten. The Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends a gluten-free diet for people with PsA and a confirmed sensitivity to gluten.1,2
A weight loss diet is suggested for people with PsA whose weight exceeds a healthy limit. Obesity has been shown to increase the risk and severity of psoriatic disease. Obesity can also make some treatments for psoriatic disease less effective. For weight loss, the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends a hypocaloric (reduced-calorie) diet.1,2
Foods that are high in antioxidants are also suggested for people with PsA. Antioxidants help prevent damage to cells in the body. Berries, dark chocolate, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and green tea all contain lots of antioxidants.1
The Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends that adults with PsA take vitamin D. This came after the group looked at 55 studies on the effect of food on psoriatic diseases. They found that Vitamin D supports the bones and the immune system.2
People with PsA may also benefit from probiotics. A 2015 study showed that people with PsA had lower amounts of certain bacteria in the gut. Adding good, live bacteria through a probiotic supplement or foods like yogurt can boost gut and overall health.3
Eating for your health
Eating healthy can be an important part of treatment for PsA. For some people, certain diets and supplements may relieve or even ward off PsA symptoms. Talk to your doctor about what might help you.
Have you found any foods that trigger your psoriatic arthritis symptoms? Share your experience with us!
Do you have any questions about PsA?