MyPsoriasisTeam members often wonder how their diet might affect their skin condition and if certain foods might cause flare-ups. One member asked, “Does eating chicken trigger psoriasis?” Another wrote, “Do people find changing their diets helps psoriasis? If so, which diet plan?”
While there is no single diet that can cure psoriasis, extreme low-carb diets — including the carnivore diet — have sparked interest as a method to help control psoriasis symptoms.
The carnivore diet, generally speaking, means eating meat and nothing else. Some people on this diet only eat one type of meat, while others eat all kinds of meat and other animal products. Some people cut out food groups so strictly that they do not season their food. There are many variations of the carnivore diet, but overall, they are based on the same claim: that eating meat only is the best thing for your health.
Although there have been anecdotal reports of people who claim their health issues have benefited from this diet, many claims that proponents of the carnivore diet make are unscientific and should be approached with caution.
Some advocates for the carnivore diet claim that plant-based food is actually toxic and causes inflammation, but there is little evidence for this. For example, lectins and gluten are cited as toxins. Lectin is common in beans and rice and may cause stomach upset when eaten too much, but it is not thought necessary to avoid overall. Gluten is harmful to people with celiac disease, but eating a gluten-free diet is not necessary for most people.
People on the carnivore diet do not eat any carbohydrates because they believe that a high-carb diet is the cause of chronic (ongoing) disease. The carnivore diet is more strict than the ketogenic diet (keto diet), which limits but does not completely cut out carbs. Proponents of the carnivore diet also emphasize that cutting out carbohydrates completely can help with weight loss. This is indeed the main reason people might lose weight while on the carnivore diet, but carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, so cutting them out completely can be risky.
You may benefit from reducing your intake of white sugar and flour. However, following a strictly low-carb or no-carb diet is not generally recommended. You can still benefit from eating carbs in the forms of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Because of the claims that plant-based ingredients can be inflammatory foods, some people believe that an all-meat meal plan can improve or cure psoriasis. Apart from the potential inaccuracy of these claims, keep in mind how eating a carnivorous diet could have an impact on your health in other ways.
People with psoriasis are at a higher risk of heart disease compared to the general population. The carnivore diet can make this worse because an all-meat diet can lead to high cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart problems. Eating large amounts of high-sodium, processed meats can also increase the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) — another condition associated with psoriasis. Hypertension can raise the risk of other types of heart disease and stroke.
In addition to concerns about heart health, cutting out all grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables can create other health problems. Some other potential health problems that may be associated with a carnivore diet include:
In general, a diet focused on fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, lean protein, and healthy fats is recommended for people with psoriasis, heart disease, and general health. This type of diet is often called the Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean-style diet also includes low-fat dairy products and nuts and seeds. This type of diet is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, which may help improve psoriasis symptoms.
“I’ve drastically changed my diet to eating more of an anti-inflammatory diet, in hopes that I may lessen, or drastically reduce my plaque psoriasis, as well as my PsA joint pain,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote.
A Mediterranean diet limits added sugars, processed foods, and saturated and trans fats. Limiting these types of foods may also help with psoriasis symptoms. Eating high-fat foods can trigger inflammation in your adipose tissue (body fat), which could lead to a psoriasis flare-up.
People with psoriasis may also find they benefit from limiting other foods and beverages that trigger their particular symptoms. These may include alcohol, dairy, red meat, refined carbohydrates like white bread, and fried foods.
Over time, you may discover that eating or avoiding certain foods helps you control your psoriasis symptoms. For specific medical advice about dietary changes, including taking supplements, talk to your dermatology provider or another health professional. Remember, do not adopt an extreme diet or an elimination diet without consulting a medical provider.
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How does your diet affect your psoriasis symptoms? Have you cut out or added any foods? Share your tips and experiences in a comment below or on MyPsoriasisTeam.