Most people with psoriasis will have some degree of symptoms for life. But this doesn’t mean that improvement can’t happen. Medications help keep this skin disease under control and combining medication with certain dietary choices can also have a positive effect on both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (which is a joint condition related to the skin disease).
The Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation recently reviewed the current body of scientific research so they could share the latest understandings about how diet affects psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Their review included 55 studies – which covered more than 77,000 people both with and without psoriasis.
The biggest take-away from this National Psoriasis Foundation project relates to overweight or obese patients with psoriasis. It may not be the most popular news to hear, but the evidence shows that a low-calorie diet with the goal of losing weight leads to significant improvements in the severity of psoriasis symptoms, as well as (obviously) weight loss and an improved “dermatology quality of life.” Losing weight improves both skin and joint symptoms of psoriasis, which is why this dietary change earned the Medical Board’s strongest recommendation.
People with psoriasis are known to have a higher risk of also developing celiac disease, which is why gluten-free diets tend to be popular with psoriasis sufferers. According to this Medical Board, gluten-free diets have shown some benefit, but only in patients who test positive (based on a blood test) for gluten sensitivity. In these situations, a three-month trial of going gluten-free can make sense.
In terms of dietary supplements, the strongest evidence emerged for vitamin D supplements, but this recommendation was geared specifically to overweight/obese patients with psoriatic arthritis.
One final thing that’s important to keep in mind: all of these dietary changes are recommended to be done in combination with a medication plan of care – not in place of one.
Ford AR, Siegel M, Bagel J, et al. Dietary recommendations for adults with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis from the medical board of the National Psoriasis Foundation: A systemic review. JAMA Dermatol 2018;154(8):934-50.