Patients with psoriatic arthritis often ask if adhering to a certain diet could improve their condition. The hype surrounding gluten-free foods, in particular, has prompted many people to believe there are health benefits to going gluten-free.
The Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation set out to determine if specific dietary practices such as following a gluten-free diet, taking vitamin D or fish oil supplements, or losing weight could lessen the symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
To make evidence-based recommendations, the researchers conducted a systematic review of 55 studies involving 4,534 patients between 2014 and 2017. After the extensive analysis, they determined that adults with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis could supplement medical treatment with certain dietary strategies to reduce disease severity. Following a gluten-free diet was found to be potentially useful in only a subgroup of patients with a confirmed gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Dietary Changes that May Help Adults with Psoriatic Arthritis
The Foundation’s Medical Board found evidence that weight reduction with a low-calorie diet could lead to symptom improvement in overweight and obese patients, those with a Body Mass Index of at least 25. The Board did not recommend a specific diet. However, the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits and vegetables, could be a healthy way to approach this.
The Board issued a weak recommendation for a gluten-free diet, and only for patients who test positive for gluten sensitivity or have confirmed celiac disease. However, the Medical Board did not recommend universal screening of adults with psoriatic diseases for gluten sensitivity due to concerns about a high rate of false positives.
Regarding supplements, the Board found some evidence that vitamin D supplementation might help reduce symptoms in people with psoriatic arthritis. The Board found little evidence to support the use of omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oil supplements.
Additional Good Practices for People with Psoriatic Arthritis
Other good practices to manage psoriatic arthritis include maintaining overall fitness, practicing good body mechanics, and strengthening the muscles around the knees and other joints affected by the disease. It’s also important to stick to a healthy diet and maintain one’s ideal weight.
Over the past few years, significant advances in drug treatment have benefited patients. About one-third of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. Those with the skin condition who begin to experience joint pain should consult with their doctor and perhaps see a rheumatologist, as patients do better with timely diagnosis and treatment.