- If certain foods are triggering your child’s psoriasis, avoiding those foods can help limit symptoms.
- Eating a balanced diet can reduce your child’s risk of other psoriasis-related health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- Encourage your child to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, and other nutritious foods. Limit foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can cause scaly patches called plaques to form on the skin. If your child has psoriasis, their doctor may prescribe medications and other treatments. You can also recommend certain lifestyle changes.
Eating a nutritious diet is important for your child’s skin health and general wellbeing. In some cases, diet changes can help improve your psoriasis symptoms or lower your risk of developing other health conditions.
Read on to learn more about psoriasis and nutrition in children.
No food can cure psoriasis, but some people find that certain foods trigger psoriasis symptoms to flare up. If you’ve noticed that certain foods are linked to your child’s psoriasis symptoms, avoiding these triggers may help limit relapses.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes inflammation in the body. Eating a balanced diet of fresh and nutritious foods can help reduce this inflammation.
Eating a balanced diet can also help keep your child’s weight within the average range. Children with obesity are more likely to develop psoriasis, and obesity is associated with more severe psoriasis symptoms. People with psoriasis and obesity are also at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
If your child is obese, their doctor may recommend changing their eating or exercise habits to prevent weight gain and support healthy development. Children should not be put on a weight loss diet without the assistance of a doctor.
Restricting foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars has health benefits for every child, including children with psoriasis.
Certain other foods can trigger psoriasis symptoms in some children but not in others.
If you think certain foods can trigger flare-ups, tell your child’s doctor. A doctor or nutritionist can help identify and eliminate food triggers while making sure that your child’s general nutritional needs are being met.
Highly processed and fast foods
Highly processed and fast foods are often high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and added sugars. Refined grains are also low in nutrients.
Restricting these foods can help reduce your child’s risk for:
- high blood pressure
- Heart disease
Examples of these foods are:
- Lemonade, fruit punch, and other sweetened drinks
- Candies, cookies, cakes and other sweets
- deep fried and fast food
- highly processed packaged foods
These foods are usually high in calories with few vitamins, minerals, or fiber. Try to limit them to the occasional treat.
Not sure if a packaged food is highly processed or unhealthy? Check the ingredients list.
Foods with 20 percent or more of the daily added sugar value are considered a high source of added sugar according to the Food and Drug Administration. Foods with 20 percent or more of the daily value of sodium are considered high in sodium.
Saturated and trans fats
Red meats (especially processed meats like bacon and hot dogs) and full-fat dairy products are high in saturated fats. Research from 2020 suggests that a diet high in saturated fat can make psoriasis symptoms worse.
Therefore, it can be helpful to limit foods high in saturated fat in your child’s diet.
For children over the age of 2, choose low-fat dairy products and serve moderate amounts of lean pieces of red meat. Opt for foods that are a source of leaner protein and unsaturated fat, such as poultry and fish.
Some children with psoriasis can benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a group of proteins found in certain types of grain, including wheat, barley, and rye. These grains are common ingredients in foods such as:
- Biscuits and other baked goods
According to the 2018 Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation’s recommendations on psoriasis and nutrition in adults, eating a gluten-free diet may help improve psoriasis symptoms in people with gluten sensitivity. However, studies have not found any benefits of a gluten-free diet for people without gluten sensitivity.
Research has also shown a link between celiac disease and psoriasis. A 2017 review found that people with psoriasis are three times more likely to have celiac disease than people without psoriasis.
If your child has gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, the following symptoms may occur after consuming foods that contain gluten:
- stomach pain
- Flatulence and gas
If you think your child has gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, speak to their doctor.
Do not eliminate gluten from your child’s diet without first talking to their doctor or nutritionist. They can help you learn how to safely adjust your child’s diet while meeting their nutritional needs.
To promote overall health, doctors encourage children to eat a variety of nutritious foods, particularly:
- full grain
- Nuts and seeds
- lean protein and dairy products
These foods are key components of the Mediterranean diet. This eating behavior includes:
- lots of plant foods and seafood
- low to moderate amounts of poultry, eggs and dairy products
- very little red meat, refined grains, added sugars, and other highly processed foods
- Olive oil as the main source of fat
Eating a Mediterranean diet can help lower your child’s risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The Mediterranean diet focuses on many nutritious foods and can help ensure that your child receives the nutrients they need for optimal health.
Although the results are mixed, some research from 2017 suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements may be beneficial for people with psoriasis. Oily fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that are important to your child’s health.
Do not give your child an omega-3 supplement unless recommended by your child’s health team.
Encourage your child to eat a variety of plant-based foods, including:
- fruits and vegetables
- Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
- Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds
- Whole grain products like whole grains, whole grain rice, quinoa, and oats
Plant-based foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are rich in antioxidant compounds. This can help reduce inflammation in the body.
fish and seafood
Enrich your child’s diet with fish and other seafood, which are excellent sources of protein and, in many cases, omega-3 fatty acids.
The following fish are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
Fish oil supplements and other omega-3 fatty acid supplements are also available for children. Talk to your child’s doctor before giving them any supplements.
Lean sources of protein
Meet your child’s protein needs while limiting their consumption of saturated fats by including lean sources of protein in their diet. In addition to fish, other lean sources of protein are:
- Skinless chicken or turkey breast
- Soy products such as tofu
- Beans, peas and lentils
- low-fat dairy products (full-fat dairy products are recommended for children under 2 years of age)
To encourage your child to eat more nutritious foods:
- Inform your child about the advantages of a varied and balanced diet.
- Model healthy habits by including a variety of nutritious foods in your own snacks and meals.
- Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with easy-to-grab nutritious snacks, such as:
- fresh fruit
- sliced vegetables with hummus
- Whole grain crackers with nut butter
- low-fat yogurt (but watch out for added sugar)
- Get your child involved in gardening, grocery shopping, menu planning, cooking, or other eating activities. They may be more willing to try new foods if they help prepare them.
- Limit foods high in sugar and fat to the occasional treat, but don’t demonize these foods. Enforcing strict dietary rules can negatively affect your child’s body image and relationship with food.
In addition to a balanced diet, physical activity is also important for your child’s health.
Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of developing:
- high blood pressure
- Heart disease
It can also reduce stress and improve your mental wellbeing, which can help prevent psoriasis flare-ups.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 3 to 5 should be physically active throughout the day. Children aged 6 and over should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.
While no single food will cause or cure psoriasis, eating a balanced diet can help support your child’s overall health and well-being.
In some cases, making healthy diet changes for your child can help limit flare-ups and reduce the risk of developing other psoriasis-related health conditions.
Work with your child’s doctor or nutritionist to identify and eliminate any food triggers that could make your child’s psoriasis worse.
Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods:
- full grain
Limit foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars.