Usually affecting people between the ages of 30 and 50 years, psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that is closely related to psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that results in the development of red, scaly rashes. Almost a third of the people with psoriasis are likely to be diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, although the symptoms of the joint condition can also appear before the rashes develop.
Symptoms and causes
The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis, and the condition is characterized by severe joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Swollen fingers and toes, foot pain, and lower back pain are common indicators of this condition that stems from an abnormal immune response leading to an attack on the healthy cells and tissues and resulting in the inflammation of joints. Environmental and genetic conditions are likely triggers of the abnormal immune response that leads to psoriatic arthritis, and certain genetic markers have also been linked with the condition.
Can it be treated?
There is currently no cure for psoriatic arthritis, and medications aim to reduce the severity of the symptoms that accompany the condition. That being said, leaving psoriatic arthritis untreated can be disabling, so medical attention must be sought at the earliest.
Diets that help
While dietary changes do not make a huge impact in the fight against psoriatic arthritis, they help alleviate the symptoms and make the pain less severe. Here are some diets constituting specific foods that help manage the condition:
- Anti-inflammatory diet
Joint stiffness and swelling is a common sign of this condition that limits the range of motion and makes movement painful. Reducing the intake of foods that accelerate inflammation, along with increasing the intake of those that help alleviate it, aids in reducing the frequency of flare-ups.
A type of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids are especially known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are must-haves for patients of psoriatic arthritis. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are loaded with omega-3 fats and should be part of the diet, along with tuna, seaweed, and flaxseed oil.
Besides, grains like brown rice, quinoa, and barley have anti-inflammatory compounds, and foods like peanuts, walnuts, spinach, and kale are also beneficial for helping cope with the condition.
- Antioxidant-rich diet
People with arthritis generally have low amounts of antioxidants in their body, but these compounds are of paramount importance as they prevent damage to the cells caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that form chain reactions and lead to inflammation of joints and acceleration of the aging process, among other things.
So, a diet rich in antioxidants is important to manage psoriatic arthritis, and it includes a whole range of fruits and vegetables like spinach, corn, broccoli, cabbage, red bell peppers, pumpkin, mangoes, tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon. The more colorful the platter, the better. Additionally, seafood, lean meat, milk, offal, fish, liver, and egg yolk are also rich in antioxidants and beneficial additions to a psoriatic arthritis patient’s diet.
- Low-fat, low-carb, low-sugar diet
Obesity is never a good sign and increases the risk of psoriasis significantly, which can, in turn, lead to psoriatic arthritis. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease also add to the risk of developing psoriatic arthritis, and they are common among overweight individuals. Losing weight relieves psoriasis, bringing down the risk of psoriatic arthritis, and limiting fat, carbohydrate, and sugar intake is the first step in fighting obesity.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chards are low in calories and loaded with fiber, making them helpful for losing those extra pounds as well as maintaining a healthy weight. Cauliflower, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables are also abundant in fiber and other nutrients.
- Gluten-free diet
Research strongly suggests a link between psoriatic arthritis and celiac disease, an autoimmune disease caused due to the indigestion of gluten that affects the functioning of the small intestine. Multiple studies suggest that people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis are more likely to be affected by celiac disease, while children with celiac disease face a higher risk of developing psoriasis.
This makes a gluten-free diet ideal for patients to ward off any concerns and prevent further complications. Some gluten-free foods are beans and legumes, milk and most dairy products, meat, poultry, and fish and other seafood. Brown rice, corn, potato, millet, tapioca, arrowroot, and buckwheat are also naturally gluten-free foods.
- Mediterranean diet
This diet helps ease some of the symptoms that accompany psoriatic arthritis as it has anti-inflammatory properties, provides high levels of omega-3 fats, and includes oleocanthal—a phenolic compound that helps relieve inflammation.
Also, cutting down on the consumption of added sugars, refined grains, processed meat, and other highly processed foods is especially important when on this diet.
A Mediterranean diet recommends the intake of fish and seafood at least twice a week, while vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices, and eggs and dairy are beneficial parts of the diet. Red meat should be consumed only occasionally. While this diet provides a basic outline, patients can alter it to suit their needs and preferences.