What's Included in a Psoriatic Arthritis Diet?
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects some individuals who have psoriasis, which is a disease characterized by red and white scaly patches on the skin. Psoriatic arthritis causes stiff, painful and swollen joints. There is currently no cure for psoriatic arthritis, so treatment is focused on relieving symptoms and preventing joint damage. Making small dietary changes, in combination with standard medical therapies, can help to reduce psoriatic arthritis symptom severity. In this article we will outline the best psoriatic arthritis diet, as well as foods to avoid, and give some general lifestyle changes you can make to help keep your symptoms under control.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are both chronic conditions that worsen over time. Similar to psoriasis, the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis have a tendency to flare up and then subside. Additionally, symptoms vary among individuals and may change location in the same person over the course of the disease.
Psoriatic arthritis may affect joints on one side, or both sides of the body, causing the affected joints to become stiff, painful and inflamed.
Psoriatic arthritis commonly includes the following symptoms:
- Swollen fingers and toes: Psoriatic arthritis commonly causes painful sausage-like swelling of the fingers and toes (referred to as sausage digits). Swelling and deformities of the hands and feet may occur, and finger and toe nails may also be affected.
- Foot pain: Psoriatic arthritis can cause pain at tendon and ligament attachment areas, most notable at the back of the heel (Achille’s tendon) and along the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia).
- Lower back pain: Some people with psoriatic arthritis develop spondylitis, a condition that causes inflammation between the vertebrae of the spine, or sacroiliitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the joints between the pelvis and spine.
Best Foods for Psoriatic Arthritis
If you suffer with psoriatic arthritis, you should consume foods to help keep inflammation under control, including:
- Fruits and vegetables – in particular dark, leafy greens and berries. These foods are high in antioxidants, which promote a healthy immune system and may minimize inflammation in the body.
- Whole grains (whole wheat, whole oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice) and beans – these foods are high in fiber, which helps keep C-reactive protein levels in check (high C-reactive protein has been associated with inflammation).
- Fatty fish (salmon and tuna), olive and flaxseed oil, avocados, hemp, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, edamame, seaweed and algae – these foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help to reduce inflammatory proteins in the body.
- Spices – particularly ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper help to control inflammation in the body.
- Tea – green, black and white teas are high in polyphenols which boost your immune system.
The best exercises for arthritis will be in flexibility and range of motion, strengthening, and aerobic or endurance exercises.
Worst Foods for Psoriatic Arthritis
If you suffer with psoriatic arthritis, you should avoid foods that increase inflammation in the body, including:
- Alcohol – alcohol disrupts the way your organs function together because it makes your liver work harder.
- Sugar – sugar is associated with the production of cytokines, which increase inflammation in the body.
- Processed and fried foods – these foods contain trans fats that can promote inflammation in the body.
- Processed meats, red meat and dairy – these foods contain saturated fats which can increase inflammation in the body.
- Diet soda – diet soda is often sweetened with aspartame, and your body might think this is a foreign substance and initiate an immune response triggering inflammation.
General Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Psoriatic Arthritis
If you suffer with psoriatic arthritis there are some things you can try at home to control your symptoms including:
Protecting Your Joints
Change the way you use affected joints to prevent symptoms from worsening. For example, if one of your hands is affected, use both hands to lift heavy objects.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Keeping your weight in a healthy range will put less stress on your joints, which will help to minimize pain and improve your mobility. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight helps psoriatic medications work optimally; some medications have been shown to be less effective in individuals that are overweight (with a body mass index of 25.0 to 29.9).
Regularly exercising helps to keep your muscles strong and your joints flexible. Try to engage in activities that are less stressful on your joints such as swimming, biking and walking. Stretching and yoga can also help to increase joint flexibility and decrease stress. But be sure to pace yourself and take breaks as needed.
Smoking has been associated with a heightened risk of developing psoriasis.
Alcohol has been associated with an increased risk of developing psoriasis. Additionally, it decreases the effectiveness and increases the risk of side effects of some psoriasis medications.
Making dietary changes, in conjunction with standard medical treatment, can help to relieve symptoms of psoriatic arthritis for some individuals. Limiting consumption of inflammatory inducing foods and replacing them with healthy alternatives can help to boost the immune system and fight inflammation in the body, helping to relieve psoriatic arthritis symptoms.