The alkaline diet emphasizes choosing certain foods to lower acid levels in the body. Although the alkaline diet promotes a lot of nutritious options, it’s not directly proven to heal psoriasis or any other inflammatory condition.
In addition, researchers have a difficult time finding consistent evidence that an alkaline diet affects the body’s pH, or acid/alkaline balance, because healthy kidneys usually do a good job of regulating pH. In other words, assessing the value of this diet is a little complicated.
Attempting to follow an alkaline diet can increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, that may help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. You may notice similarities between an alkaline diet and other anti-inflammatory diets that are popular for psoriasis, like the Mediterranean diet or a plant-based diet.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about trying an alkaline diet, along with information on what to do before making any major changes.
The alkaline diet is based on the theory that certain foods alter the pH levels in your blood, making it more acidic or basic (alkaline). However, this theory isn’t proven or supported by most health care professionals. Although food isn’t likely to change your body’s acid/base balance, the dietary recommendations for the alkaline diet are in line with some conventional healthy eating guidelines.
Followers of the alkaline diet are encouraged to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables while consuming less meat, processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. However, some healthy, anti-inflammatory foods such as fish, mushrooms, and certain berries are discouraged. Proponents also might buy alkaline water, which is essentially mineral water and unlikely to be harmful.
MyPsoriasisTeam members have reported various symptom triggers, and what affects one person won’t necessarily cause issues for another. One example is alcohol. “Personally, alcohol and a bad diet certainly preceded the start of my psoriasis and arthritis,” one member wrote. “And it affected my treatment in that I refused to go on methotrexate when I discovered I couldn’t drink anymore. I thought I wasn’t an alcoholic because I only drank on Fridays or Saturdays, but I think I probably was at least alcohol-dependent. Nowadays, I’m a lot better and only drink on special occasions, but I always have flare-ups after.”
The alkaline diet can be a bit confusing and tricky because it encourages some acidic foods, like citrus fruits. But the way a food is found in nature can be different from the way it gets absorbed and used by your body. You’ll need to cut back on dairy products and refined grains, like pasta, flour, and commercial cereal products, which can feel like a big change depending on how you usually eat.
An alkaline diet requires more cooking and food prep, and some people don’t stick with the plan because they find it too expensive or challenging. A more practical approach might be to start with a few changes and see how your body adjusts. Taking cues from an alkaline diet and swapping out one food at a time may help you identify your symptom triggers.
Some people on MyPsoriasisTeam try to eat a healthy diet or make better choices most of the time. “I find that diet plays a huge part in my psoriasis,” one member said. “I do my best to eat clean on Monday through Friday and have some cheat days on the weekends. I found that trying to stay on a strict diet for me was causing more stress than it was helping me. Exercise and a balanced diet and maybe one favorite snack to indulge in are what have been working for me.”
Overall, the foods commonly attributed to an alkaline diet are anti-inflammatory, which can be particularly beneficial for people with psoriasis. On an alkaline diet, you can expect to eat more:
Unlike traditional vegans or vegetarians, some strict followers of the alkaline diet suggest limiting lentils and soy products, which can be an important source of protein when eating less meat.
Generally, the alkaline diet recommends avoiding red meats, processed foods, and added sugar. These positive changes are good goals for anyone who wants to eat better. For a person who is generally healthy, there’s no real risk in making healthy substitutions or including more whole foods in your diet.
However, if you’re considering taking alkaline supplements or making drastic diet restrictions, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. It’s vital to make sure you won’t miss out on essential nutrients or unknowingly take supplements that clash with your medications. In addition, keeping a food diary to log what you eat and requesting blood work to check your vitamin and mineral levels can help your medical team monitor for potential deficiencies in your new diet.
“Everyone is different. It’s so helpful for everyone who doesn’t feel 100 percent to do a weeklong elimination diet and reintroduce food to see what really affects you,” said a member of MyPsoriasisTeam. If you suspect a psoriasis trigger is lurking in your diet, you can try following a supervised elimination diet with your health care team to learn more about how your body responds to specific foods before committing to a strict diet.
In addition, you should always speak with your dermatologist before changing your diet to make sure the updates you’re planning won’t interfere with the treatment regimen for your skin condition.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 117,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
Have you made healthy lifestyle changes to help treat psoriasis or improve your overall health? Are there any specific acidic foods or alkaline foods you try to focus on? Post your suggestions in the comments below, or start a conversation on your Activities page.