Foods to Avoid With Psoriasis: What to Eat, Triggers to Avoid

Psoriasis can be triggered by diet and other lifestyle factors. Fortunately, you may be able to reduce flare-ups and psoriasis symptoms by making changes to your diet and avoiding certain foods, particularly ones that cause inflammation.

This article discusses the foods to avoid and the ones recommended for psoriasis.

Foods to Avoid With Psoriasis - Illustration by Jessica Olah

Verywell / Jessica Olah

Foods to Avoid With Psoriasis

Red Meat

Red meat is high in saturated fat and a type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6s lead to the production of compounds that increase the amount of inflammation in the body. Eating too much red meat and other foods high in omega-6 could trigger symptoms.

Foods to limit include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Sausage, bacon, and other processed meat

Dairy Products

Research suggests dairy products may promote inflammation and trigger symptoms of psoriasis. During a 2017 survey, people reported dairy as one of their psoriasis triggers. However, more research is needed to understand the true effects of eating dairy on psoriasis.

Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in some grains like wheat and barley. It’s present in foods like bread, pasta, bagels, and some cereals. For people with celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten, it may lead to inflammation and increase psoriasis symptoms.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are associated with an increased risk for multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and autoimmune conditions. Often the vitamins and minerals are stripped from food during processing, taking away most of the helpful nutrients.

Eating processed foods may increase inflammation in the body, which may lead to psoriasis flare-ups. Try to limit foods like:

  • Prepackaged foods
  • Processed meats
  • Desserts and baked goods
  • Canned foods
  • Condiments and packaged sauces

Nightshade

Nightshade plants belong to a type of plant family called Solanaceae. A survey found that people with psoriasis reported improvements in symptoms when removing nightshades from their diet. Common vegetables and spices in the nightshade family include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Paprika

Alcohol

Another reported trigger for psoriasis symptoms is alcohol. Regular alcohol consumption impacts the body and immune system in a variety of ways. It’s recommended for people with psoriasis to avoid drinking alcohol or to only drink on occasion.

Caffeine

Caffeine may be a trigger for psoriasis symptoms. Some people with psoriasis report improvements in severe symptoms when removing caffeine from their diet. Drinks with caffeine to limit with psoriasis include:

  • Coffee
  • Black and green teas
  • Soda and energy drinks with caffeine

Citrus Fruits

Some people experience sensitivities or allergies to citrus fruits, which may lead to inflammation. There is little research about the effects of citrus fruits on psoriasis. Still, it potentially could trigger symptoms for people with sensitivities to citrus fruit.

Foods to Eat If You Have Psoriasis

Since psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune response and inflammation, foods that help reduce inflammation are recommended.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are staples in anti-inflammatory diets because they are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells from damage and help reduce inflammation.

It’s recommended to regularly include fruits and non-starchy vegetables in your meals and snacks, such as:

  • Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, onions
  • Dark, leafy greens like kale, arugula, spinach
  • Berries, cherries, grapes, pears, melons

Fatty Fish

Many varieties of fish provide a type of fat with anti-inflammatory properties, called omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, while limiting the amount of omega-6 fatty acids (found in foods like red meat, corn, and soy), helps manage the symptoms of inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Examples of fatty fish include:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Sardines

Heart-Healthy Oils

Heart-healthy oils contain anti-inflammatory fatty acids and antioxidants. Not all oils are heart healthy, and some provide more omega-6 fatty acids. Try to focus on adding these heart-healthy oils to your diet:

  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Safflower oil

Probiotics

Eating foods with probiotics (such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, or kombucha) or taking probiotic supplements helps support a healthy gut and may help with psoriasis. A 2019 randomized control trial found that taking a probiotic supplement helps reduce the severity of symptoms and the number of psoriasis flares.

Supplements

With a balanced diet, many people can get enough of the vitamins and minerals they need. Still, supplements may help if there are any deficiencies or additional nutrient needs. A 2014 study found that nutritional supplements that may help reduce inflammation and symptoms in people with psoriasis include:

  • Fish oil or omega-3s
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Selenium

Diets That Might Help Reduce Symptoms of Psoriasis

When looking for a diet for psoriasis, look for plans that include foods good for psoriasis while limiting the foods that may trigger symptoms. Not all diet plans will be good for psoriasis. Listed below are a few options that may help your condition.

Dr. Pagano Diet

Dr. John Pagano is known for his research on natural remedies for psoriasis. His book titled "Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative" focuses on improving symptoms through diet and lifestyle. The diet plan includes:

  • Avoiding red meat, nightshades, citrus fruit, processed foods, and other trigger foods
  • Limiting grains, meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs
  • Eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables

Plant-Based Diet

Vegetarian and vegan diets naturally limit many inflammatory foods while promoting fruits and vegetables. Often these diets are high in healthy oils, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Gluten-Free Diet

There isn’t enough research to suggest a gluten-free diet for everyone with psoriasis. Instead, the research suggests a gluten-free diet may improve the symptoms for people with a gluten sensitivity or allergy.

Food allergies and sensitivities increase inflammation in the body, which can aggravate conditions like psoriasis. So, if you have an allergy, avoiding trigger foods is important to limit inflammation.  

Paleo

The paleo diet promotes eating whole foods and limiting all processed foods. Primarily the diet includes fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and fish. In a 2017 survey, people reported following a paleo diet helped improve symptoms and skin appearance.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is well known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. The diet promotes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. The foods in the diet are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may benefit psoriasis.

A 2015 study found that people who didn’t eat a Mediterranean-style diet were more likely to experience psoriasis symptoms than those who did. The study also showed that the diet might help reduce the severity of psoriasis symptoms.

Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP)

The autoimmune protocol diet (AIP) is an elimination-style diet designed to help reduce inflammation and symptoms. It’s a very strict meal plan that allows you to eat meat, fish, vegetables, and healthy oils.

It may help reduce inflammation short term, but it may not be a good option long-term since it’s a very strict meal plan.

Keto

The ketogenic diet is a popular diet trend and is a very low carb and high-fat diet. Some research suggests following a keto diet may help with weight loss and reduce the amount of inflammation in the body.

Still, this option may not be best for everyone since it reduces fruit and vegetable intake. At the same time, it increases omega-6 rich foods like red meat.

Other Triggers to Avoid and Ways to Improve Psoriasis

Other tips that may help with psoriasis symptoms are:

  • Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Try food journaling—this can help track triggers for symptoms.
  • Avoid cold, dry weather.
  • Watch for skin infection.
  • Avoid skin injuries and scrapes.
  • Avoid medication triggers—such as lithium, prednisone, hydroxychloroquine.

Summary

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can be challenging to manage. Avoiding foods that increase inflammation may help to contain psoriasis symptoms. Try to focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish. Symptom triggers may vary from person to person, so pay attention to which foods may be leading to your symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

You will encounter conflicting advice about what to eat and what not to eat that might worsen your psoriasis symptoms. This is likely to be different for each person. If you think food is a trigger, keep a food and symptom journal so you might be able to spot your specific triggers.

Discuss any major changes to your diet with your healthcare provider. Above all, a balanced diet that provides the nutrients you need for overall good health is essential. A registered dietitian may be a great resource for allaying any fears and steering you to a good eating pattern.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What foods make psoriasis act up?

    Foods that may make psoriasis act up include tomatoes, eggplant, red meat, gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods.

  • Is coffee bad for psoriasis?

    Some research suggests caffeine may be a trigger for psoriasis symptoms.

  • Is chicken good for psoriasis?

    Chicken is a leaner protein, so it may be better for psoriasis symptoms than red meats.

  • Which juice is good for psoriasis?

    In small amounts, most types of juice without added sugar may be OK for psoriasis. However, some people have reported citrus fruits trigger their symptoms, so this type of juice may not be best for everyone.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ashley Braun, MPH, RD
Ashley Braun, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian and public health professional with over 5 years of experience educating people on health related topics using evidence-based information. Her experience includes educating on a wide range of conditions including diabetes, heart disease, HIV, neurological conditions, and more.