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10 Foods That Can Trigger Psoriasis Flare-Ups

According to the book 100 Questions & Answers About Psoriasis written by dermatologists Kendra Bergstrom and Alexa Kimball, psoriasis triggers can vary among people, meaning that a food or medication that causes or exacerbates psoriasis flare-ups in one person may not affect another psoriasis sufferer. Therefore, it is impossible to come up with a universal list of psoriasis-triggering foods that all psoriasis sufferers should consult when making decisions related to their diet. However, anecdotal evidence and case studies suggest that some foods may be more likely to trigger psoriasis flare-ups than others. Here's a list of ten of them:

1. Nuts

In some people, psoriasis flare-ups may be caused or exacerbated by an allergy or intolerance to nuts, which is not surprising given that nuts are among the most allergenic foods. However, if your psoriasis flare-ups don't seem to be linked to the consumption of nuts or foods containing nuts, it may be a good idea to include these little goodies in your anti-psoriasis diet because they appear to have anti-inflammatory properties in people who are not allergic or sensitive to them. And, as psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, any food that fights inflammation is generally considered good for psoriasis patients.

2. Foods That Contain Gluten

Some studies have found a positive association between psoriasis and celiac disease. But what is perhaps even more interesting is that according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, also psoriasis patients who don't have celiac disease may experience symptom relief after adopting a gluten-free diet in some cases.

3. Tomatoes

Anecdotal reports suggest that some psoriasis patients experience fewer and less severe flare-ups when they avoid tomatoes. Some experts believe this phenomenon might be linked to the acids in tomatoes, while others think it has something to do with the anti-nutrients tomatoes contain. If the anti-nutrients are the culprit, then also potatoes might be bad for psoriasis sufferers as they are related to tomatoes and contain similar anti-nutrients.

4. Sugary Foods

A diet high in refined sugar is bad for psoriasis patients for a number of reasons. For example, a high intake of sugar causes inflammation and excess body weight, both of which have been linked to psoriasis. Evidence also suggests that sugar promotes leptin resistance, an obesity-related condition that also appears to be independently associated with psoriasis.

5. Pineapple

Some experts believe that there's a link between psoriasis and hidden food allergies (aka intolerances). One food that is generally considered healthy but that triggers psoriasis flare-ups in some people, perhaps because of its allergenic properties, is pineapple. Of note is that in some people only raw pineapple seems to trigger psoriasis, which might be linked to the fact that cooking reduces the amount of allergenic compounds in fruits.

10 Psoriasis Triggering Foods

6. Citrus Fruits

Anecdotal evidence suggests that also citrus fruits are a common psoriasis trigger. However, if citrus fruits are not a trigger food for you, there's no need to avoid them. Eating a wide variety of healthy, well-tolerated foods is good for anyone, including people suffering from inflammatory skin conditions. What's more, citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, and research suggests that antioxidants are good for psoriasis patients.

7. Foods That Contain Alcohol

Foods and drinks that contain alcohol pop up on almost every list of common psoriasis triggers, but studies examining the association between alcohol consumption and psoriasis have yielded mixed results. However, if you find that alcohol triggers your psoriasis flare-ups, it can't hurt to cut it from your diet. Also worthy of note is that alcohol can lead to serious side effects for patients using certain psoriasis drugs such as methotrexate or acitretin.

8. Processed Meat

Popular belief holds that red meat is bad for psoriasis sufferers because of the inflammatory compounds it contains, and red and processed meats frequently appear on lists of foods that are believed to trigger psoriasis symptoms or make them worse. However, a study published in the July 2012 edition of the journal Diabetes Care found that high blood levels of the inflammatory marker CRP were positively associated only with processed meat intake, and not with red meat or poultry intake. And, another study, published in the February 2007 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, found that when some carbohydrates in the diet were replaced with unprocessed lean red meat, markers of chronic inflammation actually went down.

9. Spicy Foods

As this book points out, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consistently tell people with psoriasis to avoid spicy foods—advice that some psoriasis sufferers swear by. But even if spicy foods seem to trigger your flare-ups, you might still be able to enjoy some pungent spices. In fact, some of them might even be good for psoriasis-prone skin! For example, there is some scientific evidence suggesting that turmeric is good for psoriasis sufferers, perhaps because of the anti-inflammatory compounds it contains. Ginger, which is related to turmeric and contains similar anti-inflammatory compounds, has received less attention, but anecdotal evidence suggests that also ginger might be good for psoriasis patients.

10. Dairy Products

Some people with psoriasis are convinced there is a connection between dairy and psoriasis because drinking milk and eating dairy products seem to trigger their psoriasis flare-ups. If you are one of them, you might want to experiment with a dairy-free diet to see if it reduces your symptoms. When adopting a dairy-free diet, make sure you always read the labels carefully as many packaged foods have hidden dairy.

Useful Resources

Healing Psoriasis Diet Book Dr. John Pagano has gained international fame with his ground-breaking book, Healing Psoriasis, which has been translated into numerous languages. In this compelling book, Dr. Pagano presents an all-natural regimen designed to alleviate and heal psoriasis without steroid creams, tar baths, injections, or ultraviolet treatments. Packed with invaluable diet and lifestyle tips, recipes, case studies, and before-and-after photos, Healing Psoriasis is a great resource for anyone interested in a drug-free treatment for psoriasis. Available from and

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Make it a habit to visit's online Guide to Healing Psoriasis on a regular basis. Updated once a week, the sidebar on the home page of the guide contains tons of links to interesting nutrition-related articles hand-picked for psoriasis sufferers. It also contains a weekly smoothie recipe featuring ingredients with psoriasis-fighting potential, as well as a book tip.