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Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis — a disorder that can cause red, scaly patches on the skin.

Psoriatic arthritis can cause swollen and tender joints, painful muscles and tendons, and scaly skin patches.

Fortunately, eating the right diet can help alleviate many of these symptoms and enhance your quality of life.

This article explains what to eat and avoid with psoriatic arthritis and provides a sample psoriatic arthritis diet.

psoriatic arthritis diet

Causes and risk factors

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory condition that combines the often painful, stiffness, and swelling of joints with psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a skin condition that can cause itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin to appear.

About 20–30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis (1).

While researchers are unsure what exactly causes psoriatic arthritis, several factors have been linked to the condition, including smoking, overweight and obesity, and certain genetic factors (2).

Symptoms

Psoriatic arthritis shares many of the same symptoms as rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include (3):

  • swollen, tender joints
  • itchy, painful red patches or a silvery-white buildup of dead skin cells
  • pain and stiffness in the low back
  • nail pitting and separation
  • fatigue

Many of these symptoms tend to occur through cycles, flaring for several weeks or months, then subsiding for some time.

Psoriatic arthritis diet

Eating certain foods and avoiding others may help reduce the excessive inflammation that occurs with psoriatic arthritis, helping to alleviate certain symptoms (4, 5).

Foods to avoid

Many foods tend to be pro-inflammatory, meaning they promote inflammation in your body.

These include:

  • Sweets and desserts: cakes, cookies, pastries, ice creams, pies, puddings, candy, etc.
  • Sugary beverages: regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, regular energy drinks, and specialty coffee drinks
  • Processed meats: hot dogs, salami, ham, bacon, sandwich meat, beef jerky, sausage
  • Fried foods: french fries, cheese sticks, onion rings, etc.

The inflammation produced by eating too much of these foods can worsen your symptoms and increases your risk of other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and digestive issues (7).

Foods to eat

Just as some foods tend to be pro-inflammatory, many foods are anti-inflammatory.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods can reduce your body’s inflammation and improve symptoms (4, 5).

These include:

  • Fruits: apples, avocados, bananas, berries, grapes, melons, oranges, etc.
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, etc.
  • Whole-grains: oats, brown rice, popcorn, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, whole grain bread, and pasta
  • Seafood: crab, haddock, halibut, herring, lobster, sardines, salmon, shrimp, trout, tuna, etc.
  • Dairy: cottage cheese, milk, yogurt
  • Proteins: eggs, poultry, pork, beef, tofu, tempeh
  • Bean and legumes: chickpeas, lentils, peas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, pinto beans, navy beans
  • Oils, seeds, and nuts: olive oil, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts

Eating these foods can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

If you’re overweight, losing weight can reduce the severity of your symptoms and risk of other diseases (8, 9, 10, 11).

For example, in one study, people with psoriatic arthritis reported less fatigue and joint pain after losing weight on a low-calorie diet (12).

One-day sample psoriatic arthritis diet

Here is a one-day sample psoriatic arthritis diet rich in foods can help lower inflammation and improve your symptoms.

Breakfast: spinach egg omelet and whole-grain toast with avocado spread

Snack: Greek yogurt and mixed nuts

Lunch: homemade vegetable beef soup and a tossed green salad

Snack: hummus with carrot sticks and pepper slices for dipping

Dinner: baked cod, roasted potato, and steamed broccolini

Best supplements for psoriatic arthritis

In addition to diet, many supplements may help ease psoriatic arthritis symptoms.

Fish oil

Fish oil is a concentrated source of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Many studies have shown that fish oil supplementation reduces joint tenderness and may decrease reliance on medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for controlling pain (13, 14, 15, 16).

Look for supplements that contain at least 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per serving, like this one from Wiley’s Finest.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the spice, turmeric.

It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects that have been shown to soothe joint pain and stiffness (17, 18).

Alone, curcumin is poorly absorbed by your body, so choose a supplement like Doctor’s Best High Absorption Curcumin, which contains black pepper to enhance curcumin absorption.

Vitamin D

People with psoriatic arthritis are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D compared with people without the condition (19, 20).

While you can get vitamin D through your diet and the sun, supplementing with the vitamin is a more efficient way to restore and maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

A vitamin D supplement that contains 1,000–2,000 IU (25–50 mcg) is a good place to start for most people.

Shop for vitamin D online.

The bottom line

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that occurs in combination with a skin condition called psoriasis.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables and limiting pro-inflammatory foods like processed meats and sugary beverages can help reduce inflammation and ease symptoms.

Along with diet, supplementing with fish oil, curcumin, and vitamin D may offer additional symptom relief.