Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic condition that currently has no cure. Treatment revolves around the long-term management of the symptoms, and a person’s diet can play a key role in this.

People with PsA experience swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints, fatigue, and other symptoms. Many people with PsA also have skin involvement, which is the hallmark symptom 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 foods may benefit a person with PsA and which foods may be best to avoid.

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The foods and dietary habits that may benefit people with PsA are similar to those that reduce the risk of metabolic conditions.

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

Consuming foods that contain fiber and antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and associated its symptoms.

The sections below look at some foods to eat with PsA in more detail.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Some anti-inflammatory foods that may help include:

Fiber and antioxidants

The Arthritis Foundation encourages people with a type of arthritis to eat fiber, as there is evidence to suggest that it can also reduce inflammation.

It recommends following a diet that is high in antioxidants, as these can help reduce inflammation by removing free radicals. Free radicals are byproducts of many bodily processes that can adversely affect health.

Some foods that provide fiber and antioxidants include:

Learn more about antioxidant foods here.

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 healthy fat that is good for heart health. They also provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

A review from 2018 reports that fish oil might benefit people with psoriasis.

Vitamin D

Some studies suggest that people with a psoriatic disease have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency than other people. Vitamin D plays a role in maintaining skin health.

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

Some good food sources of vitamin D include:

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

Learn more about vitamins that may help with psoriasis here.

Ginger

Ginger is high in antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory properties. Three antioxidant compounds present in ginger are gingerol, shogaol, and paradol.

A 2015 study suggests that ginger may help reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis. However, it does not mention PsA specifically.

Curcumin

Curcumin is a chemical in turmeric and could be of benefit to people with PsA. One 2018 review lists curcumin as a natural remedy that might help people with psoriasis.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, fatty red meats, refined sugars, processed foods, and dairy products can all increase inflammation and worsen the symptoms of psoriasis. Each of these foods can also contribute to weight gain.

Also, many processed foods contain a highly processed type of fat known as trans fat. This is not a healthy fat.

Learn more about the different types of fats here.

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

Foods that may trigger or worsen inflammation include saturated fats from processed foods, simple carbohydrates, sugar, 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 and foods containing trans fat
  • alcoholic beverages

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.

A study from 2015 compared the gut bacteria of healthy people with those of people with PsA. The researchers found that people with psoriasis and PsA had less diverse gut bacteria than healthy people and lacked several healthy bacteria types.

Some foods and supplements that may boost the health of 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 for them.
  • Fiber: This can also benefit gut health and gut microbiota, according to one 2018 study.

Learn more about gut bacteria and psoriasis here.

Some research suggests that people with a psoriatic disease may be more likely to have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. The bodies of people with these conditions cannot tolerate gluten.

If tests find that a person has a gluten sensitivity, they will likely benefit from following a gluten-free diet. However, people should always speak with a doctor before adopting a gluten-free, as it may not suit everyone. A gluten-free diet needs careful planning, as it can increase the risk of some nutritional deficiencies.

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

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

Maintaining a moderate weight can help people avoid obesity and other comorbidities associated with psoriatic diseases, such as high blood pressure, high lipid levels, and heart disease.

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

The Mediterranean diet encourages a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fish.

According to some research, people with rheumatoid arthritis 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, which could also benefit people with PsA.

Not all studies have confirmed a benefit for people with arthritis, but any diet that contains plenty of fresh, plant-based ingredients is likely to have overall health benefits.

The DASH diet can help keep blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other health measures within the recommended ranges.

The DASH diet does not restrict food intake. Instead, it focuses on fresh, plant-based produce and whole grains rather than processed foods and red meats.

A diet that provides overall health benefits may help a person with PsA manage their symptoms and prevent complications and comorbidities.

How does the DASH diet work? Learn more here.

Other diets, 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 proven their efficacy in specifically benefiting 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 here.

The sections below look at these options in more detail.

Paleo diet

The paleo diet consists of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans. It typically prioritizes minimally processed meat, fish, vegetables, and grains.

A 2016 review suggests that the paleo diet may benefit weight management and metabolic issues.

Keto diet

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

Some research suggests that the keto diet may have anti-inflammatory properties, while other studies show mixed results regarding its usefulness in reducing psoriasis inflammation.

However, the keto diet may help people reach and maintain a moderate weight, which can have a positive impact on psoriasis symptoms.

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

  • boosts overall health
  • reduces inflammation
  • increases fiber intake
  • is heart-healthy
  • enables a person to manage their weight
  • is low in unhealthy fats and added salt and sugar
  • 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.