Flaky, dry, itchy, painful skin plagues millions of Americans. Inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema are no fun, and they are not just uncomfortable. Severe plaque psoriasis is actually thought to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. And as we get older, these threats become more real.
But if you educate yourself, psoriasis need not cramp your style. Look at Kim Kardashian. She has been open about suffering from psoriasis, and it certainly doesn’t stop her from frolicking around in bathing suits showing off her skin and having a grand old time.
We’re not here to tell you to frolic around in bathing suits like Kim, but we are here to tell you about some anti-inflammatory foods that might help get your skin into peak frolicking condition.
Medications and topical ointments may be necessary to treat these skin inflammations, but you can also help the process by minding what you eat. Dieticians agree that the food you put into your body greatly affects what’s happening on the outside of your body (and skin is all over the outside of your body). So, if you are suffering from one of these conditions, it might be to your benefit to learn about an anti-inflammatory diet that could help soothe your symptoms and keep your heart healthy.
Dieticians and reputable research publications, such as Harvard Medical School, recommend a Mediterranean diet. This anti-inflammatory diet is heavy on natural, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and healthy fats.
Responsible disclaimer: These are guidelines based on clinical studies and research. But before making any big lifestyle changes, talk to your dermatologist and/or doctor.
Here are foods to include in your anti-inflammatory diet:
Fruits and vegetables
This one is probably a no-brainer. Fruits and veggies are great for all aspects of your health, but there is evidence to suggest they also help reduce inflammation in the body. Especially, antioxidant rich ones like blueberries, kale, spinach, strawberries and cherries.
And speaking of cherries, did you know the coffee bean actually comes from a fruit considered to be a cherry? Our point is, coffee is thankfully also a healthy part of an anti-inflammatory diet. “Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation,” according to an article by Harvard Medical School.
You may want to avoid tomatoes, though. While tomatoes are high in antioxidants, when it comes to psoriasis specifically, many people report that tomatoes worsen their symptoms.
Man cannot live on spinach and coffee alone, so when you need a satisfying snack, reach for things like nuts and avocados, which are high in the good kind of fat. Just make sure you are going for natural, organic nuts and seeds. Stay away from pre-packaged, processed nut snacks like honey roasted peanuts or anything coated in sugar. You will be doing yourself all kinds of healthy favors.
“Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” according to Harvard.
A good main course in an anti-inflammatory diet is a nice fatty fish like salmon, tuna or sardines. Don’t crinkle your nose at sardines, they are actually delicious and chock full of Omega-3 fatty acids known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Health.com reports that “fish oils are thought to reduce inflammation and help the immune system, which is overactive in people with psoriasis.”
Not a big seafood person? Lean meats like chicken are okay too.
And here’s what to avoid eating:
Fatty, lardy foods
Sorry, that bacon cheeseburger and French fries is not making the cut. Yes, we all know a Big Mac, fries and a Coke is not the healthiest choice in general, but it may actually be contributing to flare ups in your psoriasis or eczema. Studies show that foods high in saturated fats cause inflammation in the body. Carnivores will be disappointed to hear that red meat in general is a part of this category. If you can’t resist, thorough, at least opt for a lean cut like sirloin, the National Psoriasis Foundations recommends.
Remember how we said you’re allowed to drink coffee, you may want to avoid pouring all those little sugar packets into it. Candy, cake, cookies, all the stuff that makes life good, may be aggravating your symptoms. Sorry if this is getting depressing! But you just need to cut it out of your everyday, normal diet. No one will judge you for having a bite of your kid’s birthday cake or snagging a Halloween candy.
Oh, you may also want to avoid putting milk in that coffee. Dairy is commonly categorized as an inflammatory food. But the good news is that there are so many alternative milks out there like almond, cashew and oat, that you may not even miss that half and half in the morning.
It’s getting worse, we know. Yes, it’s true that cold beer or glass of wine after work might be triggering your skin condition. Alcohol, which is basically just sugar, is an enemy for sufferers of psoriasis.
According to Health.com, “alcohol is thought to trigger psoriasis outbreaks, possibly by increasing inflammation. And drinking can interfere with how well your medications are working and may even be dangerous when mixed with certain psoriasis treatments.”
Talk with your doctor and figure out if drinking in moderation is practical for you or if you should just cut it out altogether.
Here’s a tricky one. Some experts recommend integrating whole grains and cereal into an anti-inflammatory diet while others tout going totally gluten-free, which would nix some of these foods. This is where you can experiment and see what’s best for your and your body. Everyone can all agree, though, that it’s best to avoid simple carbohydrates like white potatoes and pasta, and instead opt for whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice. Whether you go totally gluten free, is up to you and your doctor to decide.
Foods to eat:
Foods to avoid: