FOODS     TOOLS     ABOUT        

Psoriasis & The Paleo AIP Diet

Citrus Fruits

Psoriasis is one of the most common autoimmune diseases affecting the skin, but many psoriasis sufferers feel modern science has failed to offer them satisfying solutions. As a result, they are now looking for alternative ways to control their flare-ups using dietary and lifestyle changes. In this article, we evaluate the psoriasis-fighting potential of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), a type of Paleo-compliant elimination diet that has been specifically designed to help those suffering from autoimmune diseases, to uncover food sensitivities, fix nutrient deficiencies, and repair a damaged gut so that foods that were once off-limits can be eaten again once the disease is in remission. As psoriasis is an inflammatory condition with an etiology that has been linked to autoimmunity, it is not surprising that many psoriasis patients have turned to the Paleo AIP.

The standard Paleo diet is based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by humans during the Paleolitchic Era. It includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, and organ meats, and excludes foods like grains, legumes, dairy products, sugar and processed oils. The AIP follows follows the standard Paleo guidelines, but in addition, it cuts out a whole range of allergenic foods during the elimination phase. Here's how different food groups that are either emphasized or restricted on the Paleo AIP Diet relate to psoriasis risk or severity:

Psoriasis and the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol: Allowed vs Restricted Foods


Focus on vegetables (and fruits) is at the core of almost every Paleo-based diet, including the AIP, and that certainly makes Paleo diets an attractive option if you suffer from psoriasis. As pointed out in this article on psoriasis and the vegetarian diet, several observational studies have found an inverse association between psoriasis risk or severity on one hand, and vegetable and fruit intake on the other. In addition, an interventional study published in the journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica found that a vegetarian diet, preceded by a 2-week fast, resulted in significant symptom relief in some psoriasis patients (1). This study also looked at the impact of a vegetarian diet on other chronic inflammatory disorders, including atopic eczema, but the positive effects were only observed in psoriasis patients.


Some observational studies have reported a positive association between (red) meat intake and chronic inflammation, and at least one such study has found a link between consumption of red/processed meat and psoriasis severity. This might make you think that Paleo diets, which are typically quite heavy on meat, are not good for psoriasis sufferers. However, if you dig a little deeper, you'll notice that the association between meat intake and psoriasis is a bit more complex. For example, one of the newer studies that looked at this found that Body Mass Index (BMI) accounted for a significant proportion of the association between red meat intake and inflammation, and once the data were adjusted for BMI, the association was no longer statistically significant. What's more, a study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that high levels of the inflammatory marker CRP were positively associated only with processed meat intake, and not with red meat or poultry intake (2). And, yet another study found that replacing some carbohydrates in the diet with unprocessed lean red meat, which is what people on Paleo diets eat, actually reduced markers of chronic inflammation (3).


Some studies have found a positive association between psoriasis and celiac disease, but a gluten-free diet may also be good for psoriasis sufferers who only suffer from gluten intolerance, as suggested by a Swedish study (4). The Paleo AIP Diet, just like all other popular Paleo-compliant diets, is gluten-free as it eschews all grains, including wheat, rye, barleym spelt and triticale.


Some people with psoriasis are convinced that dairy triggers their psoriasis symptoms, while others seem to be able to eat dairy products and drink milk without a problem (at least in limited quantities). If you are one of those who seem to react to dairy products, Paleo-based diet plans may be particularly a good option for you as they don't include any dairy products.


Famous proponents of the Paleo diet maintain that beans are bad for people with autoimmune dieases, such as psoriasis, because they contain anti-nutrients that can damage the gut barrier and contribute to the development of a "leaky gut". In people with a leaky gut, substances that would normally stay in the gut can escape into the bloodstream, which in turn can agitate the immune system and cause chronic inflammation, which definitely doesn't sound good if you suffer from an inflammatory autoimmune disease such as psoriasis. However, before you draw any conclusions about beans and psoriasis, know this: many beans also contain tons of compounds that might have anti-psoriatic activity (e.g. antioxidants). Plus, research on the ability of various anti-nutrients to promote a leaky gut is still in its infancy and largely based on animal studies, not human studies.

Processed Foods

All Paleo-style diet plans eschew processed foods, which is certainly a good thing if you suffer from psoriasis (or almost any other chronic disease). As mentioned earlier, a high intake of processed meat has been associated with increased inflammation. But also other types of processed foods may be problematic for psoriasis sufferers for a variety of reasons, not least because processed foods are often loaded with added sugar. A diet high in refined sugar is bad for people with psoriasis because sugar promotes inflammation and excess body weight, both of which have been linked to psoriasis. Aside from that, there is evidence suggesting that sugar promotes leptin resistance, an obesity-related condition that also appears to be independently associated with psoriasis.

Psoriasis-Triggering Foods

What sets the AIP apart from the standard Paleo diet is that it acknowledges that autoimmune patients may have allergies and intolerances to certain foods that other Paleo dieters might be able to eat without problems. For that reason, the AIP starts with a strict elimination diet that cuts out a whole range of foods that might cause symptoms in people with autoimmune diseases. However, the AIP was created with all autoimmune patients in mind, and therefore it does not specifically mention foods like pineapple and citrus fruits which are thought to be common trigger foods for psoriasis patients (but not necessarily for other autoimmune patients). However, the Paleo AIP does ask the dieter to personalize the diet so that also all foods that the individual thinks might be linked to his or her flare-ups are avoided during the elimination phase.

The Nitty-Gritty on the Paleo AIP Diet

The Paleo AIP Diet is described in detail in Sarah Ballantyne's bestseller, The Paleo Approach. The book draws upon cutting-edge research and Ballantyne's own battle with various autoimmune diseases and provides the reader with a comprehensive Paleo-based diet and lifestyle plan designed to put autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, into remission. Ballantyne's Paleo diet has gained a large following, and hundreds of people have posted reviews of the book and/or the diet on Amazon (you can view all of them here). Some of these reviews have been written by people who have used the Paleo AIP Diet to fight psoriasis. To learn more about The Paleo Approach, or to order your own copy of the book, visit:, or