Your Diet’s Role in Managing Psoriatic Arthritis

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects both the skin and the joints. As a type of inflammatory arthritis, it is closely associated with the skin condition psoriasis, characterized by red patches with silvery scales. The joint pain, stiffness and swelling that accompany PsA can have significant impacts on quality of life.

In this article, we will explore the best and worst foods and drinks for psoriatic arthritis, what PsA is, what causes it and common triggers. We will also discuss treatment options, including Otezla which is used to lower inflammation in PsA.

Worst Foods and Drinks for Psoriatic Arthritis

1. Soda

Regular consumption of soda, particularly sugar-sweetened varieties, can contribute to inflammation and lead to weight gain due to its high sugar content.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of medications and may contribute to inflammation. Some people with PsA may find that their symptoms worsen with alcohol consumption.

3. Energy Drinks

These drinks often contain high levels of caffeine and sugar and can cause sleep disturbances. Poor sleep can exacerbate the symptoms of PsA.

4. Fruit Juice

Though it might seem healthy, fruit juice is often high in sugar and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which may trigger inflammation.

5. Fried Foods

High in trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids, fried foods can contribute to inflammation and should be limited.

6. Refined Grains

White bread, pasta and pastries made with white flour can increase inflammation as they are high in glycaemic index.

7. Processed Meats

These meats often contain saturated fat, trans fats and advanced glycation end products (AGEs), all of which can contribute to increased inflammation.

8. High-Sugar Foods

Candies, cakes and other sweets can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, potentially leading to an inflammatory response.

Foods and Drinks That Are Helpful for Psoriatic Arthritis

Certain foods and beverages have anti-inflammatory properties and can support the overall health of individuals with PsA.

1. Fermented Foods

Yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi contain live bacteria that may help in maintaining a healthy gut microbiota, which is important for immune system regulation.

2. Whole Grains

Foods like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat contain fiber, which can help to reduce inflammation.

3. Berries

Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that can fight inflammation.

4. Dark Leafy Green Vegetables

Spinach, kale and Swiss chard contain high levels of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin K, which is believed to help reduce inflammation.

5. Green Tea

Full of antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea can help reduce inflammation and protect the joints.

6. Water

Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for maintaining joint health and overall well-being.

7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Foods high in omega-3s, such as salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

8. Vitamin D

This vitamin is essential for immune function and can be found in fortified foods, certain fatty fish and from sun exposure.

9. Ginger and Turmeric

These spices have anti-inflammatory properties and can be incorporated into a wide variety of dishes.

Understanding Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of autoimmune, inflammatory arthritis that affects some people with the skin condition psoriasis. Psoriasis is characterized by red, scaly patches on the skin caused by an overactive immune system. Psoriatic arthritis typically develops in people who already have psoriasis, but it can occur in individuals without a prior diagnosis of psoriasis as well.

This condition can cause inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, stiffness and swelling. It can affect any joint in the body, but commonly involves the joints of the fingers, toes, wrists, knee, and ankles. The exact cause of PsA is not completely understood, but it is thought to involve genetic, environmental and immunological factors.

Common Triggers of Psoriatic Arthritis

The symptoms of PsA can be exacerbated by a variety of triggers. Understanding and avoiding these triggers when possible can help manage the condition.

  • Stopping Medications: Abruptly discontinuing certain treatments can lead to flare-ups.
  • Infections: Infections can stimulate the immune system and may provoke a PsA flare.
  • Wounds: Injuries to the skin, such as cuts or scrapes, can initiate a condition called the Koebner phenomenon in people with psoriasis and potentially lead to new PsA activity.
  • Stress: Emotional stress is a well-known trigger that can cause both psoriasis and PsA to flare, especially when combined with a lack of sleep.

Treatment Options for Psoriatic Arthritis

A multifaceted approach to treatment can help manage PsA symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Here are some common treatment options.

  • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids: These powerful anti-inflammatory drugs can be administered orally or directly into the affected joint.
  • DMARDs: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs work by targeting the immune system. Methotrexate is a common conventional DMARD, while biological DMARDs include newer, targeted medications like tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors.
  • Otezla: Otezla (apremilast) is an oral medication that functions by blocking an enzyme in the immune system that influences specific cells to cause inflammation throughout the body.
  • Physical therapy: A tailored exercise program can help maintain joint flexibility and strength.
  • Arthroplasty: In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be an option to reduce pain and improve function.

Final Notes

Lifestyle and diet play a significant role in managing psoriatic arthritis symptoms alongside medication and therapeutic interventions. By understanding the potential triggers and eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, while avoiding those that might exacerbate symptoms, individuals with PsA can actively contribute to their own well-being and potentially reduce the severity and frequency of flare-ups.

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