Some diets and dietary choices can help manage symptoms of psoriatic arthritis (PsA). However, there is not one specific diet for PsA.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic condition. There is currently no cure, but treatment can help manage the symptoms.

People with PsA experience swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints, as well as fatigue and other symptoms. Many people with PsA also have skin involvement, which is the hallmark of psoriasis.

No specific diet will cause or treat psoriasis or PsA, but some dietary tips may help manage the symptoms.

This article details which diets and foods may benefit a person with PsA and which foods may be best to avoid.

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Doctors do not prescribe a specific diet for PsA, but diets that focus on certain ingredients may have benefits.

A Mediterranean diet, for instance, focuses on fresh, plant-based foods and includes less meat than a typical Western diet. It does not contain a lot of processed foods or added sugars or fats, and research suggests it may benefit people with PsA.

Some health conditions may also be more likely to occur in people with PsA, including celiac disease, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Choosing a diet that addresses these issues can help manage symptoms and support overall health.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce the chance of inflammation.

Read on to learn about some diets that may help people with PsA.

1. Gut-friendly diet

The balance of bacteria in the gut can affect a person’s overall health, including their immune system, metabolism, and weight. Some scientists suggest that changes in gut bacteria may increase the risk of PsA.

Foods and supplements that may boost the health of the gut bacteria include:

  • Fermented foods: Kimchi, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, and miso contain beneficial bacteria.
  • Probiotics: Different types have different functions. A person should ask a doctor or dietitian to recommend an appropriate option.
  • Fiber: Fiber can benefit gut health and the gut microbiota.

Learn more about gut bacteria and psoriasis.

2. Gluten-free diet

Some research suggests that people with psoriatic disease may be more likely to have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These conditions mean that a person’s body cannot tolerate gluten.

If a person has gluten sensitivity, they will likely benefit from following a gluten-free diet. However, people should always consult a doctor before adopting a gluten-free diet, as it may not suit everyone.

A gluten-free diet requires careful planning because it can increase the risk of some nutritional deficiencies.

What is the link between gluten and psoriasis? Find out here.

3. Weight loss diet

Obesity can have an impact on the onset and severity of psoriasis. Specifically, carrying excess weight can put additional strain on the joints. It also involves inflammation, which may make psoriasis worse.

Making efforts to maintain a moderate weight can help people avoid obesity and other comorbidities that have an association with psoriatic diseases, such as high blood pressure, high lipid levels, and heart disease.

Following a calorie-controlled diet may be beneficial. A nonrestrictive diet that focuses mainly on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may also help a person manage their weight.

4. Heart-healthy diet

People with PsA appear to have a higher chance of developing metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that together increase a person’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following tips for heart-healthy eating:

  • Opt for foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, and added salt and sugar.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid highly processed foods.
  • Limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day for males and 1 per day for females.

What foods can I eat on a heart-healthy diet?

5. Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet encourages consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and fish.

According to some research, people with PsA who follow a Mediterranean diet may see improvements in disease activity and physical function. One reason for this may be that the diet contains foods that are high in antioxidants.

However, any diet that includes plenty of fresh, plant-based ingredients is likely to have overall health benefits.

6. High fiber diet

The authors of a 2022 research article note that dietary fiber may be helpful for people who have psoriasis, a psoriatic disease with strong links to PsA. Fiber can:

  • help reduce oxidative stress
  • promote healthy gut flora
  • contribute to weight management

For a high fiber diet, a person should:

  • choose whole-grain cereals
  • focus on fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables
  • eat legumes such as beans, lentils, and split peas
  • choose nuts and seeds such as almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseed

Which foods can I eat on a high-fiber diet?

7. Other diets

Other options, including paleo and ketogenic diets, may help a person manage PsA.

Although these diets are currently popular and may provide health benefits, clinical studies have not yet found that they have specific benefits for people with PsA.

A person who wishes to try either diet should consult a doctor first.

Learn about the differences between paleo and keto diets.

The sections below look at these options in more detail.

Paleo diet

The paleo diet consists of foods that early humans presumably ate. It typically prioritizes minimally processed meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

A 2016 review suggests that the paleo diet may help with weight management and metabolic health conditions.

Keto diet

The keto diet is typically low in carbohydrates and high in fat.

A small 2021 study of 30 people with psoriasis found that a very low calorie ketogenic diet significantly lowered certain markers of inflammation after 4 weeks. However, doctors need more research before they can recommend the keto diet for people with PsA.

Additionally, a calorie-restricted keto diet may help people reach and maintain a moderate weight. This can have a positive effect on the symptoms of PsA.

8. Anti-inflammatory foods

Chronic inflammation appears to play a role in various types of arthritis and several metabolic conditions and may worsen symptoms.

Consuming foods containing fiber and antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and associated symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory foods that may help include:

Find some anti-inflammatory recipes to try here.

9. Fiber and antioxidants

The Arthritis Foundation encourages people with arthritis to eat fiber because it may reduce inflammation.

The foundation also recommends following a diet that is high in antioxidants. These compounds can help decrease inflammation by removing free radicals — byproducts of many bodily processes that can negatively affect health.

Foods that provide fiber and antioxidants include:

What are antioxidant foods? Find out here.

10. Healthy fats

A person’s diet should also include healthy fats, such as:

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • other vegetable oils

Fish such as salmon, trout, and herring contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit heart health.

A review from 2018 reports that fish oil may offer some benefits for people with PsA.

11. Vitamin D

A 2023 review suggests that people with PsA have a higher chance of vitamin D deficiency than people without PsA. Vitamin D plays a role in maintaining skin health.

Although most vitamin D comes from sun exposure, dietary sources are also important.

Food sources of vitamin D include:

  • egg yolks
  • fortified dairy products, cereals, and orange juice
  • oily fish

Learn more about vitamins that may help with psoriasis.

12. Ginger

Ginger is high in antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant compounds present in ginger are gingerols, shogaols, and paradols.

Multiple studies suggest that ginger might help relieve pain. However, no research has been conducted on the use of ginger in people with PsA.

13. Curcumin

Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric that could be beneficial for people with PsA. One 2018 review lists curcumin as a natural remedy that may help people with psoriasis.

Nutrition resources

For more science-backed resources on nutrition, visit our dedicated hub.

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The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends that people with psoriasis follow a heart-healthy diet, as outlined by the American Heart Association. This involves limiting or avoiding consumption of fatty meats, high fat dairy products, refined grains, and added sugars.

Some processed foods may contain a highly processed type of fat known as a trans fat, which can increase your risk for heart disease.

However, in 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared trans fats “no longer recognized as safe.” Therefore, food manufacturers in the United States should no longer add trans fats to foods.

Learn more about the different types of fats.

A 2018 review suggests that losing weight through diet and exercise may decrease overall inflammation and help relieve the symptoms of PsA. However, the authors call for more evidence to confirm this.

Foods that may contribute to weight gain include fried foods, refined grains, added sugars, and alcohol.

For this reason, people with PsA may wish to avoid:

  • foods and beverages with added sugar, including soda and candy
  • white bread, white rice, and other processed bread and cereal products
  • packaged cookies, cakes, and snack foods
  • processed meats such as bacon, sausages, and hot dogs
  • fried foods
  • alcoholic beverages

Here are some questions people often ask about dietary choices for PsA.

Can diet reverse psoriatic arthritis?

No diet can cure PsA, but eating certain foods can help limit or reduce inflammation. This includes fatty fish, nuts, lean meats, a variety of vegetables, and healthy fats such as olive oil.

Do certain foods trigger psoriatic arthritis?

Foods that can trigger PsA include fatty meats, high fat dairy products, refined grains, highly processed foods, alcohol, and foods high in added sugars.

What type of diet is best for psoriatic arthritis?

PsA is an inflammatory condition. Freshly prepared foods that are rich in antioxidants may help manage inflammation.

Doctors do not recommend a specific diet for PsA, but the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of fresh, plant-based foods, can be a good source of antioxidants and a suitable option for people with PsA.

Other diets, such as a weight loss diet or a gluten-free diet, may be helpful for people who have specific conditions with links to PsA.

Healthcare professionals do not recommend a specific diet for PsA, but a person may benefit from a diet that:

  • promotes overall health
  • reduces inflammation
  • increases fiber intake
  • is heart-healthy
  • helps them manage their weight
  • is low in added sugars
  • contributes to healthy gut bacteria

In general, a diet that emphasizes plant-based foods while limiting the intake of processed foods is likely to be beneficial.

Read this article in Spanish.