In honor of Psoriasis Awareness Month, we’re devoting August to raising awareness about psoriatic disease and its effects on the more than 7.5 million people living with this condition. This week, we are taking a look at ways you can adjust your diet to prevent your psoriasis from flaring up. If you or a loved one is suffering from psoriasis, you are already familiar with the negative effects that flare-ups can have. From painful and itchy outbreaks, to causing stress and anxiety, having psoriasis can have a major impact on the daily lives of the more than 7.5 million Americans who suffer from this condition. While there is no diet that will completely eliminate or cure psoriasis, many people who suffer from this condition have reported a significant reduction in outbreaks by eating certain foods and avoiding others. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. There is some belief that the digestive system could play a role in activating psoriasis, so paying close attention to your diet may help you to keep flare-ups at bay. Because having psoriasis is out of your control, taking charge of your diet can be empowering because it’s something you can do to live and feel better. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests that one of the first steps toward managing chronic psoriasis is to create a healthy, balanced eating plan with the help of your dermatologist. A healthy diet can strengthen the immune system, which will in turn, can guard the body against infections that may exacerbate your skin condition. Find the Forefront physician nearest you to learn about treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help prevent flare-ups and eliminate psoriatic disease symptoms in many cases. Foods That Promote Immune Health Omega-3 Rich Foods Omega-3 can be found in found in flaxseed and fish oil. The typical American diet tends to lean heavily toward the omega-6s found in corn oil and fried foods. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, while most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. You can add omega-3 to your diet by eating foods such as salmon, mackerel and flaxseed. Adding these foods just a few times a week can help. Antioxidant-Rich Foods Following a diet rich in carrots, fresh fruits, and green vegetables, which are high in anti-oxidants may make people less likely to develop psoriasis or psoriasis flares, when compared to those whose diets were lacking in these antioxidant-rich foods. Food Triggers to Avoid Alcohol Many people with psoriasis find that drinking alcohol, especially in large amounts, will cause their psoriasis to flare. Drinking alcohol can also dry out the body and the skin, which can cause the dry plaques of psoriasis to flare up. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding heavy drinking can help you avoid this problem. While psoriasis can cause stress, and alcohol can seem like an easy way to temporarily ease anxiety, it is far better for your overall health to find more natural ways to relax. Junk Foods Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for avoiding psoriasis flare-ups. Junk foods are high in trans and saturated fats and they can also contain a lot of sugar. Sugar, saturated and trans fats are known to contribute to inflammation in the body, which is a common trigger of psoriasis. Another reason to avoid junk food, such as sugary and fried foods, is that they contain a lot of empty calories and do not have a lot of nutritional value. Eating too much junk food can easily make you gain weight fast. People with obesity may face more of a possibility of exacerbating psoriasis because with excess weight comes additional skin-to-skin rubbing that can trigger new plaques or aggravate existing patches. “Many of the therapies for psoriasis are also adversely affected by obesity. The more you are at your recommended weight, the better they work, according to Mark Jackson, a board-certified dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology in Louisville, Kentucky. Gluten There is early evidence of an increased risk of intolerance to gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley and rye—in patients with psoriasis. In those patients who do have intolerance to gluten, a gluten-free diet has been shown to help improve their skin. If you have other symptoms of gluten intolerance, like diarrhea, gas, persistent fatigue, or low iron and anemia, discuss these with your dermatologist to determine whether a gluten-free diet may be helpful for you to avoid flare-ups. Usually three months of following a gluten-free diet should be enough to see if it will help your psoriasis. Dairy and Fatty Red Meats If you suffer from chronic psoriasis, you should attempt to minimize fatty red meats and dairy products such as cow’s milk and egg yolk from your diet. Red meats and dairy products are high in omega-6 fatty acids known to cause inflammation. Living with Psoriasis: How Can You Feel Better? If you or a family member is living with psoriasis, there are many things that you can do to feel better. Find the Forefront physician nearest you to learn about treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help prevent flare-ups and eliminate psoriatic disease symptoms in many cases.