Psoriatic arthritis is a form of chronic joint inflammation that commonly affects those diagnosed with psoriasis (as if that wasnâ€™t enough).
Like other types of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects your bodyâ€™s major joints, causing them to become painful and inflamed or even damaged over time.
The bad news is that inflammation hurts. The good news is that there are ways to fight it. The excellent news is that it can involve food.
Although eating (or avoiding) certain foods canâ€™t cure or cause psoriatic arthritis, some research suggests it can reduce symptoms.
So hereâ€™s the dish on what a joint-healthy diet looks like.
Reducing inflammation is clutch when it comes to avoiding or reducing arthritic flare-ups.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, aka PUFAs (yeah, we like saying it too) have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and a 2011 study found that they may reduce psoriatic arthritis symptoms over a 12-week period.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of PUFA that your body canâ€™t make. But you can (and should) incorporate some into your diet. Weâ€™re talking guac and olive oil â€” easy-peasy.
You can get your omega-3s from healthy fats, including:
- salmon tuna
- olive oil
- flaxseed oil
- flax and chia seeds nuts
Farmed salmon and some types of tuna can be high in mercury and should be eaten less often. Freshwater fish, such as wild-caught trout, are lower in mercury and can be eaten more often.
Antioxidant-loaded fruits and veggies
Chronic inflammation causes oxidative stress, which can do some serious damage if ignored. Enter antioxidants.
Low consumption of antioxidants has been linked to prolonged arthritis flare- ups (although the study focused on rheumatoid arthritis). But fear not â€” antioxidants are everywhere.
Some antioxidant foods to load up on:
- tea and coffee
- dark berries
- dark leafy greens nuts
- dried and ground spices, including cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric
- herbs, including rosemary, sage, and oregano
Whole grains jam-packed with fiber
Obesity is a risk factor for both psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.
Research shows that obesity, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation are linked. That means people with chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis should pay extra attention to managing their weight and blood sugar.
Three words: I LOVE BREAD â€” unprocessed whole-grain bread, that is. Whole grains are full of nutrients and fiber, which keeps your blood sugar and insulin under control.
Some whole grain hits include:
- brown and wild rice
Red and processed meats
Remember that oxidative stress from before? Red meat has been shown to make it worse. Red meat is also associated with a higher BMI, which is not great for those watching their weight.
Recent studies found that high-fat diets containing red meat were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) in both men and women. Having a higher BMI worsens hunger control, insulin production, and inflammation.
Swap red and processed meats for these healthier alternatives:
- chicken fishnuts
Youâ€™re probably lactose intolerant. Yes, you. Around 65 percent of the population has a reduced ability to digest lactose. That number is even higher in people of East Asian descent.
As if food allergies and intolerances werenâ€™t enough, they also cause and exacerbate chronic inflammation, especially in the gut.
Instead, try some of these nutritious alternatives to dairy:
- almond milk
- soy milk
- coconut milk
- hemp milk
- flax milk
- plant-based yogurts
Processed foods contain way more sugar, salt, and fat than your body needs.
Inflammatory conditions, obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar are all linked to eating too many processed foods. Research also shows that consumption of processed sugar leads to an increase in inflammatory markers.
Processed foods are typically cooked with oils containing omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory, unlike their anti-inflammatory omega-3 cousins.
Instead, eat fresh, naked, natural foods like:
- fresh fruits
- fresh vegetables
- whole grains
- unprocessed lean meats
As the microbiome goes, so goes the nation
Research continues to connect the dots between gut health and overall health, repeatedly linking bacterial imbalances to autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
What makes a gut-friendly diet? Lots of plant-based dietary fiber.
Your new favorite foods should be:
- broccoli kale
- sweet potatoes
Committed to helping your gut help your joints? Shop for a tempting cookbook to help you get started.
Excuse me, is that gluten-free?
We know youâ€™re sick of hearing about gluten, but hereâ€™s some science to handle the haters. People with psoriasis (and psoriatic arthritis) have a higher risk for celiac disease, and vice versa.
If youâ€™re sensitive to gluten, going gluten-free may help reduce psoriatic flare-ups and lessen their severity. Fortunately, gluten intolerances can be detected through a blood test. Talk to your doctor if you suspect this might be the case.
Ready to give it a try? Shop for some starter cookbooks.
The DASH diet (aka the cool professor of diets)
The DASH diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, aid weight loss, and even reduce the risk for cancer. Where do we sign up?
This plan is all about loading up on veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Some items to nom on include:
- fat-free or low-fat dairy fish
- beans nuts
And always give the cold shoulder to red meat.
Not sure where to start? Shop for a Dash diet cookbook.
Take a Mediterranean vacation
The Mediterranean diet has a ton of benefits. Itâ€™s been associated with decreases in pain, stiffness, and even depression in people with arthritis.
Like most anti-inflammatory diets, it involves eating a lot of fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, unprocessed grains, and healthy oils. It also suggests avoiding red meat, dairy, or processed foods. Shocker.
Beyond being pretty easy to follow, the Mediterranean diet has been found to aid in weight loss and reduce inflammation in people with arthritis.
Thereâ€™s obviously a cookbook for that too.
At the end of the dayâ€¦
Diet can help you manage your psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
Incorporating antioxidants and omega-3s into your diet while ditching some of the more inflammatory foods like red meat and dairy is a good place to start.
Remember, it doesnâ€™t have to be all work. Get creative with your diet adjustments. Perfect a new dish and invite friends over to try it.
Talk to your doctor before changing your diet. They can help you manage your goals and expectations and incorporate dietary changes alongside traditional medications.