The question of what to eat permeates our daily lives. It rings especially true when you’re living with a chronic disease like psoriasis. When April Armstrong, M.D., MPH, sees patients, many ask what factors they can control when it comes to managing their disease – particularly their diet.
“One of the most common things I hear is, ‘I’m trying this diet, but it’s not really working. What other diets can I try?’” she says.
To get at the heart of this question, Armstrong led an effort among fellow members of the National Psoriasis Foundation medical board to review the scientific literature on the relationship between food and psoriasis. What resulted is a paper on diet recommendations for people with psoriatic disease published in JAMA Dermatology in August 2018.
The review draws from data on more than 4,500 people living with psoriasis across 55 studies, providing the most comprehensive picture yet for what scientific evidence reveals about which foods and supplements could most significantly affect disease severity.
The authors are quick to point out, however, that medical treatments still lead the way in tackling psoriasis, and evidence has shown that the primary role of diet is to help mitigate disease symptoms and possible comorbidities in some patients. (To learn more about comorbidities request your free fact sheet .)
“There is what’s called a reporting bias – people who try something that works for them are going to speak more loudly than if it didn’t.” Armstrong says. “That gives you a perception that it works for lots of people.”
Calorie Counting Can Help … for Some
The paper’s strongest recommendation is to reduce caloric intake if you are overweight or obese.
The link between weight and symptom severity among psoriasis patients is well-established. In part because of body fat’s pro-inflammatory role, overweight or obese individuals face a host of issues – ranging from more severe symptoms to reduced treatment response to a greater risk of comorbidites – when trying to manage their disease.