- If certain foods trigger your child’s psoriasis, avoiding those foods may help limit their symptoms.
- A diet may reduce your child’s balanced risk of other health conditions linked with psoriasis, 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 nutrient-rich foods. Limit foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause scaly patches, known as plaques, to form on the skin. If your child has psoriasis, their doctor may prescribe medication and other treatments. They may also recommend certain lifestyle changes.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet is important for your child’s skin health and their overall well-being. In some cases, dietary changes may help improve their psoriasis symptoms or lower their risk of developing other health conditions.
Read on to learn more about psoriasis and diet in children.
No food can cure psoriasis, but some people find that certain foods trigger a flare of psoriasis symptoms. If you’ve noticed that specific foods seem to be linked to your child’s psoriasis symptoms, avoiding those triggers may help limit flares.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes inflammation in the body. Eating a balanced diet with fresh and nutrient-rich foods may help reduce this inflammation.
A diet may also help keep your child’s weight balanced within the average range. Children with obesity are more likely to develop psoriasis, and obesity is linked to more severe psoriasis symptoms. People with psoriasis and obesity also have increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
If your child has obesity, their doctor may recommend changes to their eating or exercise habits to help prevent weight gain and support healthy development. Children shouldn’t be placed on weight reduction diets without the support of a healthcare professional.
Limiting foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars has health benefits for any child, including children with psoriasis.
Certain other foods may trigger psoriasis symptoms in some children but not others.
If you think that certain foods may be triggering flares, let your child’s doctor know. A doctor or registered dietitian can help you identify and eliminate food triggers while ensuring that your child’s overall nutritional needs are 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 on nutrition.
Limiting these foods may help lower your child’s risk of:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
Examples of these foods include:
- soda, fruit punch, and other sweetened beverages
- candies, cookies, cakes, and other sweets
- fried and fast foods
- highly processed packaged foods
These foods tend to contain a lot of calories with few vitamins, minerals, or fiber. Try to limit them to the occasional treat.
Not sure whether a packaged food is highly processed or unhealthy? Check the ingredients list.
Foods with 20 percent or more of the daily value for added sugars is considered a high source of added sugars, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Foods with 20 percent or more of the daily value for sodium is considered high sodium.
Saturated and trans fats
Red meat (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 may worsen psoriasis symptoms.
So, limiting foods that are high in saturated fats in your child’s diet may be helpful.
For children over age 2, choose low fat dairy and serve moderate amounts of lean cuts 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 may benefit from following a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a group of proteins found in certain grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. These grains are common ingredients in foods such as:
- cookies and other baked goods
According to 2018 recommendations from the medical board of the National Psoriasis Foundation on psoriasis and diet in adults, eating a gluten-free diet may help improve psoriasis symptoms in people with gluten sensitivity. Studies have found no benefits of following a gluten-free diet for people without gluten sensitivity, though.
Research has also shown an association between celiac disease and psoriasis. One 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, they may experience the following symptoms after eating foods with gluten:
- abdominal pain
- bloating and gas
If you think your child may have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, speak with their doctor.
Don’t cut out gluten from your child’s diet without speaking with their doctor or dietitian first. 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 wide variety of nutrient-rich foods, especially:
- whole grains
- nuts and seeds
- lean protein and dairy
These foods are core parts of the Mediterranean diet. This eating pattern includes:
- plenty of plant-based 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 primary source of fat
Following a Mediterranean diet may help your 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 your child is getting the nutrients they need for optimal health.
While findings have been mixed, some research from 2017 suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements may be beneficial for people with psoriasis. Fatty fish is a good source of omega 3s, plus other nutrients that are important for your child’s health.
Don’t give your child an omega 3 supplement unless one is recommended by your child’s healthcare team.
Encourage your child to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods, including:
- fruits and vegetables
- legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils
- nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds
- whole grains, such as whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and oats
Plant foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are rich sources of antioxidant compounds. This may help decrease 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 high in omega-3 fatty acids:
Fish oil supplements and other omega-3 fatty acid supplements are also available for children. Speak with your child’s doctor before giving them any supplements.
Lean protein sources
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 include:
- skinless chicken or turkey breasts
- soy products, such as tofu
- beans, peas, and lentils
- low fat dairy products (full fat dairy is recommended for children under age 2)
To encourage your child to eat more nutrient-rich foods:
- Educate your child about the benefits of a varied and balanced diet.
- Model healthy habits by including a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods in your own snacks and meals.
- Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with easy-to-grab nutritious snacks, such as:
- fresh fruit
- sliced veggies with hummus
- whole grain crackers with nut butter
- low fat yogurt (but watch out for added sugars)
- Include your child in gardening, grocery shopping, menu planning, cooking, or other food activities. They may be more willing to try new foods when they have a hand in preparing them.
- Limit high sugar and high fat foods to the occasional treat, but don’t demonize those foods. Enforcing strict food rules may 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 may help lower their risk of developing:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
It may also reduce stress and improve their mental well-being, which may help prevent psoriasis flares.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 3 to 5 should be physically active throughout the day. Children ages 6 and over should be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day.
While no single food causes or cures psoriasis, eating a balanced a diet may help support your child’s overall health and well-being.
In some cases, making healthy changes to your child’s diet may help limit psoriasis flares and reduce their risk of developing other health conditions linked with psoriasis.
Work with your child’s doctor or dietitian to identify and eliminate any food triggers that might be making your child’s psoriasis worse.
Encourage your child to eat a wide variety of:
- whole grains
Limit foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars.