Psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis are both chronic inflammatory conditions. (Psoriasis is sometimes the condition that appears long before psoriatic arthritis.) Both diseases may also stem from your immune system going awry, which is why they’re also referred to as “immune-mediated” diseases.
Your first line of defense should be a medical professional who’s well-versed in the condition—usually a rheumatologist for psoriatic arthritis and a dermatologist for psoriasis. In addition to a doctor-prescribed regimen, about half of patients report using complementary and alternative medicine to manage their condition and symptoms.
Although the scientific research supporting diet improving psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis isn’t all that robust or strong yet, major health organizations recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet as both conditions stem from chronic inflammation. If you’re overweight, eating a lower-calorie diet could make a difference; and if you’re sensitive to gluten, going gluten-free could also be helpful.
These five foods have science-backed anti-inflammatory properties—as well as preliminary research linking them with arthritis-improving outcomes.
Packed with omega-3 fats, fatty, oily fish—such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and oysters—has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Research also shows that people with rheumatoid arthritis—a similar form of inflammatory arthritis to psoriatic arthritis—who took fish oil reduced symptoms like stiffness and tender joints, as well as pain. In that particular study, participants took daily doses of omega-3s in excess of 3 grams, so to achieve that amount you’d need a supplement and should talk to your doctor first. In another study of people with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, patients who upped their omega-3s with a combination of fish oil and more fatty fish in their diet improved their condition.
This golden-hued spice (or orange-fleshed root in fresh form) is packed with a compound called curcumin, which research has long shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. More specifically, there’s research on turmeric and curcumin that suggests it can help manage arthritis symptoms (mostly pain) and may even be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. There is a catch, though: your body doesn’t absorb curcumin from turmeric all that well, so when you’re eating it, consider pairing it with black pepper to boost absorption (up to 2000 percent!). Or, talk to your doctor about taking it in supplement form.
Mangos are brimming with good-for-you nutrients like skin-healthy vitamins A and C, as well as fiber—something many of us don't get enough of. But there's also a specific compound—mangiferin—that newer, preliminary research shows may help tamp down inflammation associated with arthritis. In fact, mangos are the primary source of mangiferin. Another reason to make mango a go-to anti-inflammatory food: it’s always in season. There are many mango varieties and they mature and ripen at staggered stages giving us fresh mango year-round. Also, adding more fruit to your diet overall is beneficial. Research shows the healthy polyphenols that fruits deliver appear to have a protective effect against arthritis.
Cheese & Vitamin D-Fortified Milk
Research shows there’s an association between psoriasis and low vitamin D, which is naturally found in cheese and almost always added to milk. And although we still need more research to better understand if or how low vitamin D levels leads to psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (or vice versa), psoriatic patients in general are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Plus, vitamin D helps keep your immune system humming along. Try out other naturally vitamin D-rich foods (there aren’t actually that many): egg yolks, mushrooms, and oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel). All of this said, make a point to add more naturally containing and vitamin-fortified D-rich foods into your diet, particularly because it’s far more likely to help than hinder (it’s nearly impossible to get too much vitamin D when you’re eating it).
A classic ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha is also a fairly well-known adaptogen, and thus is popping up in more mainstream places these days. It’s on this list because it not only has anti-inflammatory benefits, but also it can improve autoimmune health when symptoms flare up as a result of stress. Other adaptogens that research suggests might help with arthritis are ginseng and rhodiola. If you decide to try one, know this: to reap the benefits of an adaptogen, you need to take it every day for a few weeks. And generally, liquid versions are going to be more effective than a powder, according to naturopathic doctor Keri Marshall, MS, ND.
A Day of Eating for Psoriatic Arthritis
This one-day meal plan is not only absolutely delicious, but it’s designed to help you get in key nutrients that research shows can tamp down inflammation and potentially stave off arthritis symptoms. It’s also fairly low in calories, clocking in at just over 1,200 calories for the day. (If you need a higher calorie level, add in more fruit, like mango, or nuts, like walnuts, which contain omega-3s, to round out your day.)
Steel-cut oats cook in a mixture of water and milk for supreme creaminess and a dose of vitamin D, thanks to the milk. It also delivers a hefty serving of fruit; and if you buy oats with the certification, this meal is gluten-free as well.
View Recipe: Creamy Steel-Cut Oats with Mixed Berry Compote
This fresh, citrusy pasta salad features chickpea pasta for a gluten-free fiber boost. Canned wild sockeye salmon is worth seeking out; it contains not only healthy omega-3 fatty acids but also a large amount of vitamin D—two nutrients that can help tamp down inflammation, and are good for folks managing psoriatic arthritis.
View Recipe: Lemon-Dill Salmon Pasta Salad
This dinner offers a double dose of turmeric and its active compound curcumin—some of the golden spice flavors the creamy lentil dal and some gives the chicken a jolt of peppery, earthy flavor. The chicken’s spice rub also contains fresh black pepper, which helps to “activate” the curcumin.
View Recipe: Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Red Lentil Dal