A psoriasis detox diet plan…to most, it sounds like a lifesaver. To me, it usually sounds like a set of restrictions that may damage your relationships with food and make psoriasis a secondary health problem.
Of course, it depends on the approach because there is some evidence that nutrition can help relieve its symptoms.
I know this sounds confusing, so prepare for a mind-changing ride.
I’ll talk with you about psoriasis detox diets, how and why they are supposed to work, their risks, and myths about them. Then, we’ll discover the nutritional secrets to healthy skin and psoriasis symptom relief.
The word ‘detox’ is so appealing to people that they are willing to try anything detoxifying. Without even realizing it’s often marketing lingo for a diet that provides minimal or temporary results with lots of restrictions.
So, if you’re one of the 2-3% of the world’s population struggling with psoriasis (17), please, don’t hop on those promising diets until you finish reading this article. There’s a much better solution.
Read More: Active Rest Day Benefits, Workouts, And Diet
Psoriasis Detox Diet: The Basics
First of all, let’s learn the basics.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder that causes skin cells to produce much faster. They can’t shed these dead cells due to the growth speed of new cells, so patients see dry, itchy, inflamed skin areas on their bodies (18).
Some of the most common triggers of psoriasis (19) are:
- Metabolic syndrome and related chronic diseases
- Excess sun exposure and air pollution
Research shows that certain adjustments to your nutrition may help ease the symptoms (10), helping to make the healing process smoother. Suggestions vary, but usually such diets minimize dairy, alcohol, red meat, added sugars, and other foods and drinks.
Most conventional psoriasis detox diets put you through rough limitations, which is not good for your overall health. However, marketers claim such quick, 7-day sprints should help you remove toxins, slim down, and all that without harm to your health.
IMPORTANT: These claims aren’t related to personalized doctor-approved meal plans.
How A Psoriasis Detox Diet Plan Is Supposed To Work
Removing certain foods that may trigger an autoimmune response and instead having nutritious foods to supply the body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, logically improves an individual’s health.
For example, a small research study showed that people with psoriasis often had a higher level of oxidative stress and a lower level of antioxidants (2). This suggests that increasing antioxidant intake may help relieve the symptoms of the condition, or help prevent further complications (16).
That being said, the results of dietary interventions are highly individual. So, there’s no perfect healing recipe for everyone, unfortunately. Please note that there has to be some degree of personalization to your meal plan.
Psoriasis Detox Diet: Debunking Myths
Let’s debunk some marketing myths about psoriasis detox diets:
A 7-Day Detox Will Heal Psoriasis
A review included some studies which found that higher intakes of veggies and fruits were associated with lower frequency of psoriatic episodes (15). However, if these changes in lifestyle are only temporary, so would be the result.
This brings us to the point that long-term symptom relief only occurs if you change your lifestyle permanently.
Detox Cleanses The Body, That’s Why Psoriasis Steps Back
Adjustments to your diet work not because of detox but because of trigger food elimination. There are systems in our bodies responsible for toxin processing and cleansing, so additional detoxes aren’t necessary.
You Have To Remove All Potential Trigger Foods
Not at all. You have to find out what foods you don’t tolerate well and gradually remove them. Moreover, studies show that consuming whole grains (if you tolerate gluten) may in fact decrease inflammation (20, 21), which might make it possible for the psoriasis situation to improve.
A well-marketed detox diet, a psoriasis liver cleanse, a master cleanse, etc. remove all potential trigger foods from your daily meals, adding more ‘cleansing’ foods and drinks. Some diets are liquid-only and make you drink juices all day long. They also often don’t leave you time to prepare your body for the start and the finish of such a diet.
These detox diets can be dangerous. A true elimination diet done for medical reasons should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
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Does Detox Help Psoriasis Relief? The Risks Of Such Diets
Some of the most dangerous risks of psoriasis detox diets are potential nutrient deficiency and eating disorders.
Another example: poor gluten-free diets may lead to fiber, zinc, iron, vitamin B12, magnesium, and folate deficiencies (11).
Also, if you remove all the potential triggers from your diet you won’t be able to understand which of them in particular causes the symptoms to become more severe.
It’s a controversial topic because I’m sure there must be people whose condition is triggered by all the foods I’ve mentioned. In this case, it’s crucial to consult a specialist to help you determine which specific foods are triggers for you and take supplements if they recommend them to avoid deficits and support your body.
Restricted diets are difficult to maintain for a long time. People may break from it and start eating compulsively or it may trigger disordered eating behaviors (13). These conditions involve both physical and mental aspects, which means treating them is pretty difficult.
So, Can Nutrition Influence Psoriasis Symptoms?
Nutrition – yes! Evidence-lacking restrictive ‘detox’ diets – no! They have more drawbacks than benefits and you’re risking developing other health conditions.
We should learn to divide the two terms.
IMPORTANT: If it’s a special diet your doctor has prescribed along with vitamins and minerals to support the body, it’s OK. You should always consult a qualified specialist.
Can you reverse psoriasis with diet totally? Unfortunately, no. But, to manage the disease, you need a complex approach, and nutrition is one of its elements. You may be able to decrease the severity of symptoms dramatically with the help of balanced eating.
Here’s more research for evidence:
- There was a survey of over 1,200 people with psoriasis. A majority reported that some changes to their daily diet showed improvements in skin conditions (8).
- Other studies found that added sugar, processed meat, fried foods, etc. could trigger inflammation, which is one of the potential causes of psoriasis (5, 9).
- Also, people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease may be predisposed to psoriasis. Knowing this, removing gluten from their diets should help ease the symptoms of both conditions (7).
- People following a Mediterranean diet reported having a decrease in psoriasis symptom severity (4).
Let’s emphasize again that the changes in nutrition have to be personalized. Some people benefit from adding more fruits and vegetables, while others see little to no improvement. A gluten-free diet is also not a perfect formula because people without gluten sensitivity don’t associate consuming it with a higher risk of psoriasis and similar conditions (12).
Foods To Avoid If You Have Psoriasis
“How can I reverse psoriasis naturally?”
Well, not reverse but tame a bit. There’s something you can do.
Here are the foods and drinks you can avoid or limit to decrease psoriasis symptoms:
- Alcohol – the liver works too much trying to metabolize it, which may lead to inflammation. In one survey, 54% of participants with psoriasis reported their skin condition improved after they reduced their alcohol intake (8).
- Dairy – Milk proteins and high saturated fat content may contribute to inflammation in some people. Also, lactose intolerant people have a hard time digesting dairy, which may cause irritation and contribute to inflammation.
- Unhealthy fats – Red meat, fried food, junk food, and processed food usually all contain lots of unhealthy fats that increase the bad cholesterol levels. The consequences start with excess weight and finish with increased risk of conditions like diabetes and psoriasis.
- Added sugar – fruit juice, soda, choco bars, ketchup, and even sausage all contain lots of added sugar. When it’s in excess within our bodies it’s stored as fat and causes inflammation in the tissues. Added sugar can promote chronic inflammation in your body, which may trigger psoriasis.
- Refined carbs – some common breakfast cereals, white rice, white bread, etc. are highly processed and lack fiber. They also usually contain lots of added sugar, which promotes inflammation.
- Gluten (optional) – if you have gluten intolerance or suspect it, talk to your doctor about testing for Celiac disease and eliminating gluten from your diet.. If you do have an intolerance, gluten may promote flare-ups of psoriasis.
Foods To Eat If You Have Psoriasis
Which diet helps clear psoriasis? In brief, a balanced one without triggering foods. Here, you’ll find options that often help decrease psoriasis symptoms. All of these are a part of a Mediterranean diet, which is sometimes recommended to psoriasis patients.
IMPORTANT: I’ll never get tired of reminding you that these recommendations are general in nature. Your body may react badly to foods that are considered the healthiest, and it’s OK because we are all different. Make absolutely sure to consult a registered dietitian before drastically changing your diet.
- Fruits and veggies – in a survey, over 40% of participants reported improvements in their condition after they increased their veggie intake (8). They are also usually low in calories and contain fiber and vitamins, plus antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress.
- Olive oil – healthy fats.
- Nuts, seeds – healthy fats, fiber, vital nutrients.
- Legumes – low in fat, high in folate and other important nutrients, and no cholesterol.
- Lean meat, fish, plant-based proteins – omega-3 fatty acids (which are anti-inflammatory), vitamin B12, iron, zinc.
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TOP-5 Psoriasis-Friendly Snacks
To be more precise, here are some great psoriasis-friendly snacks for you:
- Oatmeal with berries and seeds
Flaxseeds are a great choice due to their anti-inflammatory qualities. Berries are great sources of antioxidants. In addition, oats are a wonderful base not only for snacks but for a proper meal as well.
- Hummus and veggies
Carrot and cucumber sticks go very well with hummus, which is rich in healthy fats.
- Papaya-avocado snack
This is a true antioxidant boost with papaya with its generous contents of beta-carotene and avocado, which is rich in healthy fats and fiber.
Snacking is often a problem when people try to maintain a healthy diet. Keeping your snacks tasty and nutritious will help you not only lose weight sustainably but tame health conditions such as psoriasis.
Tips On Starting Your Diet To Manage Psoriasis
For those of you who are overwhelmed with the amount of info and scared to start, here are some tips:
- Always consult a specialist to build a personalized meal plan.
- Don’t expect overnight results, give your body some time to adjust and heal.
- Realize that the issue may be there to stay. Nutrition is only one piece of a puzzle.
- Consult a specialist in functional medicine psoriasis approaches. This method looks into your digestive function and sees what may impact the immune system there to trigger the condition (gut lining abnormality, the permeability of the intestines, poor protein digestion, etc.).
- Start slowly. Don’t throw away all the food you’ve been eating to buy avocados and papayas. Such a change will be a stress for your body, and if you have the condition, your body has already gone through a lot. Give yourself at least a couple of weeks to a month to adjust and make sure the habit stays.
- If you’re overweight, consider choosing a personalized (this is important) healthy weight-loss meal plan to combat not only psoriasis but excess weight as well.
- Instill other healthy habits, one by one. Start by getting enough sleep whenever possible, and engage in some physical activity that brings you joy. Don’t overdo it. Be consistent and always remember why you are doing it.
The best detox diet for psoriasis is balanced eating under a professional’s supervision. Of course, you can try a classic detox plan, but there are many risks. Such ‘cleanses’ usually have a lot of restrictions that lead to a nutrient deficit and can trigger eating disorders.
That means you can do more harm than good.
The best way out is to consult a specialist and build a healthy, balanced diet where you have all the macro and micronutrients and don’t have any of the major trigger foods.
Don’t look for a quick fix. Psoriasis is a serious condition and, depending on the severity, may take a long time to reverse. Be consistent with your eating habits, follow your doctor’s recommendations, and you’ll achieve long-term results.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet in Clinical Practice: A Review (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Antioxidant status in patients with psoriasis (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Association Between Mediterranean Anti-inflammatory Dietary Profile and Severity of Psoriasis (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Association of diet quality with dietary inflammatory potential in youth (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Grafted Varieties of Bell Pepper (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Diet and Psoriasis: Part 2. Celiac Disease and Role of a Gluten-Free Diet (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary Behaviors in Psoriasis: Patient-Reported Outcomes from a U.S. National Survey (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary Pattern and Macronutrients Profile on the Variation of Inflammatory Biomarkers: Scientific Update (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary Recommendations for Adults With Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation: A Systematic Review (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Gluten free diet and nutrient deficiencies: A review (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Gluten intake and risk of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and atopic dermatitis among United States women (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Have Our Attempts to Curb Obesity Done More Harm Than Good? (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health benefits and bioactive compounds of eggplant (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Importance of Redox Equilibrium in the Pathogenesis of Psoriasis—Impact of Antioxidant-Rich Diet (2020, mdpi.com)
- Oxidative stress involvement in psoriasis: a systematic review (2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Prevalence and incidence of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Psoriasis Pathogenesis and Treatment (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Risk Factors for the Development of Psoriasis (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Whole and Refined Grain Intakes Are Related to Inflammatory Protein Concentrations in Human Plasma (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Whole grain diet reduces systemic inflammation (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)