Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis — a disorder that can cause red, scaly patches on the skin.
Psoriatic arthritis can cause swollen and tender joints, painful muscles and tendons, and scaly skin patches.
Fortunately, eating the right diet can help alleviate many of these symptoms and enhance your quality of life.
This article explains what to eat and avoid with psoriatic arthritis for pain relief and provides a sample psoriatic arthritis diet.
Causes and risk factors
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory condition that combines the often painful, stiffness, and swelling of joints with psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that can cause itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin to appear.
About 20–30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis (1).
While researchers are unsure what exactly causes psoriatic arthritis, several factors have been linked to the condition, including smoking, overweight and obesity, and certain genetic factors (2).
Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include (3):
- swollen, tender joints
- itchy, painful red patches or a silvery-white buildup of dead skin cells
- pain and stiffness in the low back
- nail pitting and separation
Many of these symptoms tend to occur through cycles, flaring for several weeks or months, then subsiding for some time.
Psoriatic arthritis diet
Foods to avoid
Many foods tend to be pro-inflammatory, meaning they promote inflammation in your body.
- Sweets and desserts: cakes, cookies, pastries, ice creams, pies, puddings, candy, etc.
- Sugary beverages: regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, regular energy drinks, and specialty coffee drinks
- Processed meats: hot dogs, salami, ham, bacon, sandwich meat, beef jerky, sausage
- Fried foods: french fries, cheese sticks, onion rings, etc.
The inflammation produced by eating too much of these foods can worsen your symptoms and increases your risk of other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and digestive issues (7).
While a gluten-free diet has been suggested to lower inflammation and improve psoriatic arthritis symptoms, there is no evidence to support this claim in people without celiac disease.
Foods to eat
Just as some foods tend to be pro-inflammatory, others are anti-inflammatory.
- Fruits: apples, avocados, bananas, berries, grapes, melons, oranges, etc.
- Vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, etc.
- Whole grains: oats, brown rice, popcorn, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, whole grain bread, and pasta
- Seafood: crab, haddock, halibut, herring, lobster, sardines, salmon, shrimp, trout, tuna, etc.
- Dairy: cottage cheese, milk, yogurt
- Proteins: eggs, poultry, pork, beef, tofu, tempeh
- Bean and legumes: chickpeas, lentils, peas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, pinto beans, navy beans
- Oils, seeds, and nuts: olive oil, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts
Eating these foods can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
For example, in one study, people with psoriatic arthritis reported less fatigue and joint pain after losing weight on a low-calorie diet (12).
One-day sample psoriatic arthritis diet
Here is a one-day sample psoriatic arthritis diet rich in foods that can help lower inflammation and improve your symptoms.
- Breakfast: spinach egg omelet and whole-grain toast with avocado spread
- Snack: Greek yogurt and mixed nuts
- Lunch: homemade vegetable beef soup and a tossed green salad
- Snack: hummus with carrot sticks and pepper slices for dipping
- Dinner: baked cod, roasted potato, and steamed broccolini
Best supplements for psoriatic arthritis
In addition to diet, many supplements may help ease psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
Fish oil is a concentrated source of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
Many studies have shown that fish oil supplementation reduces joint tenderness and may decrease reliance on medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for controlling pain (13, 14, 15, 16).
Look for supplements that contain at least 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per serving, like this one from Wiley’s Finest.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the spice, turmeric.
Alone, curcumin is poorly absorbed by your body, so choose a supplement like Doctor’s Best High Absorption Curcumin, which contains black pepper to enhance curcumin absorption.
While you can get vitamin D through your diet and the sun, supplementing with the vitamin is a more efficient way to restore and maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
A vitamin D supplement that contains 1,000–2,000 IU (25–50 mcg) is a good place to start for most people.
Shop for vitamin D online.
The bottom line
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that occurs in combination with a skin condition called psoriasis.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables and limiting pro-inflammatory foods like processed meats and sugary beverages can help reduce inflammation and ease symptoms.
Along with diet, supplementing with fish oil, curcumin, and vitamin D may offer additional symptom relief.