When it comes to managing psoriasis symptoms, eliminating gluten or other inflammatory-heavy foods might be worth a try.

By Renee Cherry
Updated: March 21, 2019
Photo: Luxy Images / Getty Images

If you have psoriasis-or keep up with Kim Kardashian's struggle with the skin disease-you know how frustrating the treatment can be. There's no cure for psoriasis, just methods for managing its unpredictable symptoms. Besides medication, there are a ton of other options such as light therapy and attempting to cut back on stress. Adopting a gluten-free diet is also a common alternative method. If you're considering dipping your toe into the GF lifestyle, here's what you should know about the diet's potential to mitigate symptoms. (Related: Louise Roe Shares How Making Time for Self-Care Helped Her Manage Her Psoriasis)

Gluten, a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains, is one of the most common dietary inflammation triggers. Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, treatments are aimed to prevent and minimize flare-ups. When psoriasis patients attempt to address their symptoms through an elimination diet, gluten is often the first to go. (Related: Why You Should Probably Reconsider Your Gluten-Free Diet Unless You Really Need It)

Makes sense, but the link between the diet and psoriasis hasn't been scientifically proven, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Since existing research is weak, the foundation only recommends a gluten-free diet for psoriasis patients who test positive for markers of gluten sensitivity. "With psoriasis, there's no direct link with gluten like there is with celiac disease or if you have eczema or an allergy to gluten," says Purvi Parikh, M.D., allergist/immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network.

That said, assuming you're getting adequate nutrients, there's no harm in experimenting with a gluten-free diet for a few weeks to see if it positively affects your symptoms, says Dr. Parikh. And it's not an all-or-nothing proposition, she notes. If you have psoriasis but don't want to completely quit gluten, an 80/20-approach also has the potential to make a difference. In addition to gluten, you can consider limiting other foods associated with inflammation, like alcohol, processed foods, and spicy foods, while prioritizing anti-inflammatory foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables, says Dr. Parikh. If you do go gluten-free and it has no effect on your flare-ups, at least you won't feel conflicted about your favorite regular ol' pizza.

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