Kim Kardashian Swears By a Plant-Based Diet to Ease Her Psoriasis Symptoms—Here's What the Science Says
Although the 41-year-old reality star, designer, entrepreneur and mom has been open on social media, TV and in interviews in the past about how she manages the autoimmune condition, if you haven't exactly been "keeping up with" everything about the life of Kim Kardashian, you may have missed the fact that she has psoriasis.
In case you're unfamiliar, psoriasis causes the body to make new skin cells in days instead of weeks, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. These cells build up on the surface of the skin and can lead to thick, scaly patches, which are especially common on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back.
While these symptoms may make psoriasis seem like purely a skin condition, it's actually an inflammation-related one as well. If the psoriasis is systemic, severe, long-term and left untreated, the National Psoriasis Foundation says, the inflammation could lead to other diseases like heart disease, metabolic syndrome and psoriatic arthritis (which Kardashian confirmed that she has).
In June 2022, we reported that eating a vegan diet can decrease pain and inflammation related to another form of arthritis: rheumatoid. And last month, in tandem with Psoriasis Awareness Month, Kim opened up about her own plant-based journey in a new interview for sister Kourtney Kardashian's website Poosh. The celeb says that going plant-based has impacted her symptoms "immensely."
Kardashian doesn't clarify if this is fully vegan or plant-forward—the definition varies based on the diner—but does share that her plant-based tacos recipe is a new favorite and a once-per-week dinner.
When asked how else the plant-based diet has impacted her life, she says that the transition has "made me more mindful about how what I put in my body affects me—not just psoriasis, but also my mood, my stress levels, my energy, everything."
While this certainly isn't as extreme as her pre-Met Gala diet, we usually are a bit skeptical of any sort of health-claim-related diet dish from celebs. This didn't seem too extreme or off base, though, so it had us wondering, "What does research say about psoriasis and plants?"
What the Science Says about Diet and Psoriasis
A March 2020 case study in the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention found that one individual was able to completely clear up her psoriasis plaques after following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory plant-based diet.
However, that was just one person—definitely not enough evidence to make a general Rx.
So to zoom out a bit, an August 2020 meta-analysis of earlier research in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that the best foods for psoriasis are rich in:
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Found in walnuts, flaxseed and plant-based oils, including canola oil, soybean oil and corn oil.
- Vitamin D: Salmon, tuna, eggs and fortified dairy and OJ are strong sources.
- Vitamin B12: Found in clams, tuna, nutritional yeast, salmon, beef, dairy and fortified cereals.
- Selenium, which you can score via seafood, Brazil nuts, pork, poultry, beef, dairy, eggs and mushrooms.
- Dietary fiber: Found in a wide variety of plant foods.
- Probiotics: Found in all things fermented.
The study added that these foods and drinks tend to exacerbate psoriasis symptoms:
- Saturated fatty acids
- Simple sugars
- Red meat
That said, there may not be one single "best diet" for psoriasis. A June 2022 meta-analysis in the journal Psoriasis found that the current science suggests that probiotics may be particularly beneficial for people with psoriasis. In terms of supplements, there is not enough current evidence to warrant adding any to your routine, the scientists say. But as far as an overall eating style goes, this likely varies based on other details related to your health status. A lower-calorie plan might be beneficial for individuals who fall within the "obese" BMI range (ICYMI, here's a quick refresher on why this body mass scale is being called into question by countless medical pros). A gluten-free diet is important for people with both psoriasis and celiac disease, and a Mediterranean diet may also be another strong contender if plant-based eating seems too limiting.
The Bottom Line
Leaning into a plant-based lifestyle is just one of several things that Kardashian says help her deal with her psoriasis. (Now is a good time to jump in with a reminder that any sort of treatment for a medical condition should be done under the guidance of a medical professional.)
There is no one single way to "cure" or treat psoriasis that works for everyone, and the jury is still out about the science behind the foods to eat more of or limit to impact psoriasis symptoms, but it appears that eating more plants and probiotics and fewer added sugars, red meat and saturated fats, as well as sipping on less alcohol might be beneficial.
While it's uncertain if a plant-based diet is better than something else, such as a Mediterranean diet meal plan, it certainly can't hurt to keep tabs on how what you eat impacts your flare-ups if you have psoriasis. If one food or drink in particular seems to be a trigger, you can report this to your treatment team and see if a menu shift might be worth a shot.
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