Staying Healthy: Diet, Exercise and Psoriasis

There is no perfect "psoriasis diet" or exercise regimen that helps everybody in the same way. However, many patients have found that cutting out certain foods (or making sure to eat others) has helped manage their symptoms. And exercising can reduce stress to make you feel better, even when you're flaring. Consider these suggestions:

Keep a record of the foods you eat during flares and remissions. If your psoriasis worsens when you eat particular foods, cut back on them to see if your flares diminish.

Eat a healthy diet. People who have psoriasis are at an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat meats and dairy products, nuts, beans and other plant-based foods can boost your overall health.

Customize your exercise routine so you can work out through a psoriasis flare, if possible. If lesions on your feet make weight-bearing exercises too difficult, try the stationary bicycle, yoga or hand weights. If you don't have open lesions, swimming is a good option. Salt water can slough off and soothe skin, especially if the water is cool. Chlorinated pool water can be drying, so if you swim in it, shower and moisturize immediately afterward.

Consult a personal trainer. One visit with a personal trainer who will design a program especially for you can be a good investment. Look for someone who has experience working with people who have chronic illnesses, especially if you have psoriatic arthritis. The American Council on Exercise can refer you to pros in your area.

Up your (healthy) oil intake. Some research shows that canola and olive oils and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, reduce inflammation and improve psoriasis. Consult your doctor before taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

If you drink alcohol or use any recreational drugs, be honest about it with your doctor. Drinking alcohol while taking certain psoriasis medications can be dangerous, leading to liver damage or other problems. If you smoke, stop. Smoking cigarettes can worse your psoriasis symptoms.

Reviewed by: Mary Ellen Luchetti, M.D., AAD

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