Foods to Avoid When Living with Psoriasisby Julie Cerrone Croner Patient Advocate
In a perfect world, the best diet would be to eat a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with a chronic condition such as psoriatic disease, you must be strict with your diet. Food is known to trigger your immune system, causing you any number of symptoms. Each of us will have different trigger foods, but the following are examples of foods that may be aggravating your psoriatic disease.
The standard American diet is full of sugar! It’s hard to find an ingredient label which doesn’t include some form of sugar. Many products are cutting fats with “low fat” or “low calorie” labels. But to keep the taste of the product, they’re pumping them full of sugar. Sugar has been shown to increase the risk of insulin resistance, immune suppression, inflammation and weight gain. It's also addictive and causes cravings!
Lactose and casein — which are found in dairy products — can be difficult for some people to digest. If you have a fully functioning digestive system, you may not have problems. But when your body is under the stress of battling a chronic condition, you may want to avoid them. Research on dairy consumption and inflammation is limited and conflicting, though it may be wise to limit dairy intake if you suspect is it having an adverse effect on your digestion or is exacerbating your condition.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, there is limited research that suggests a correlation between celiac disease and psoriasis, though the exact relationship is still unknown. In many cases, following a gluten-free diet may help to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, even though celiac disease may not be present.
If you've tried a gluten-free diet for several months but you are still having issues with fatigue, joint pain, inflammation, and breakouts, you may want to consider going completely grain-free. This includes avoiding corn, quinoa, rice, and all other grains. You may want to also eliminate chocolate, coffee, and tapioca to determine if this affects your overall symptoms.
Soy is often touted as a health food, but can cause real problems for those with autoimmune conditions. You may think you don’t eat soy regularly, but it has become one of the top genetically modified crops in the U.S. There are benefits to soy, but try to avoid soy protein concentrates or isolates, non-organic sources of soy, and processed soy cheese and ice cream. If you must eat soy, your best option is to stick to organic, fermented soy.
This high glycemic index vegetable, packed full of sugar, can cause cross-reactive reactions within your body. But many times when people cut out gluten, they’ll fall back on corn options. At first, it may help by decreasing exposure to harmful proteins, but over time you may start to notice that corn is still giving you problems. I see time and time again, once a patient removes corn from their diet, the stiffness, pain and swelling significantly decreases.
Genetically Modified (GM) Foods
There is much debate about the safety of GM foods, since they may have harmful effects on the human body. Soy, corn, and canola are the top genetically modified crops in the United States. According to the NIH, "it is believed that consumption of these GM foods can cause the development of disease which are immune to antibiotics." People living with chronic conditions may choose to avoid GM foods until more is understood about their relationship to disease.
Why say no to GMOs?
I have heard many anecdotal patient stories on how genetically modified organisms (GMOs) found in GM foods seem to exacerbate their chronic condition symptoms. In my professional opinion and patient experience, I've seen autoimmune patients thrive on diets that omit GMOs.
There really is no “one diet fits all” and the best way to identify your specific triggers is through an elimination diet. Through an elimination diet, you identify exactly what foods are exacerbating your symptoms and which are safe to eat for your body.