DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
The no-nightshade Psoriasis Diet has been shown through numerous testimonies to be highly effective in treating and managing psoriasis. Besides avoiding consumption of nightshades, there are also some other important guidelines to follow in order to be successful with this diet.
Basic Guidelines of the Psoriasis Diet
The Psoriasis Diet is simple to follow once you understand the basic guidelines for the diet. Before looking at some of the other specific rules to follow, one of the most important things to keep in mind with this diet is that you may not eat ANY nightshade vegetables (these include tomatoes, white potatoes, chilies, etc). These vegetables tend to cause flare-ups in psoriasis patients and their consumption may inhibit recovery. It is also important to follow a whole food based, alkaline diet with limited animal proteins, the details of which are discussed below.
No Nightshade Vegetables
Nightshade vegetables are strongly contraindicated for recovering psoriasis patients. Some people may be able to add these vegetables back into their diets later on after they’ve made a full recovery, while others may need to avoid the nightshades for longer. For now, plan to eliminate these vegetables indefinitely (you can make changes later if it seems appropriate, but whether a person’s body will tolerate these foods in the future or not varies on a case-by-case basis).
Here is a list of the most commonly consumed nightshade vegetables and plants:
- White potatoes (sweet potatoes are in a different family and are allowed)
- Peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers, poblano peppers, etc… black pepper is a completely different thing, though, and is allowed on this diet)
Though there isn’t an abundance of scientific literature available as to why nightshade vegetables aggravate the symptoms of psoriasis, this has been the truth for numerous people who have successfully overcome this illness.
Most of the limited information available about why nightshades affect psoriasis patients assumes that the higher glycoalkaloid content in nightshade vegetables is ultimately the primary culprit.
Glycoalkaloids are a kind of natural pesticide found in nightshade family plants that protect the plants from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and insects. In nature, this serves these plants well. In the body, though, higher quantities of these compounds can interfere with the production and distribution of cholinesterase, an essential enzyme needed for the breakdown of acetylcholine. When the breakdown of acetylcholine is interrupted, nerve cells and muscle cells are unable to communicate with each other, and this can sometimes lead to the muscle cells in particular being overstimulated.
Though some research shows that glycoalkaloids have positive effects on health, it’s important to note that some people (such as those with psoriasis or related conditions) may have a sensitivity to these compounds. So, though glycoalkaloids may indeed have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral effects in the body (as is claimed by some sources), they can also cause problems for some people. Some literature notes that glycoalkaloids have anticancer properties, and while this may be true, they can also cause cell death in healthy cells as well as in cancer cells since they aren’t particularly discerning. Thus, these actions in the body combined with a potential sensitivity make them poor food choices for psoriasis.
Glycoalkaloids have been implicated in the development of leaky gut in some situations since they can destroy cell membranes. Because toxic levels of the glycoalkaloids in these foods have been shown to cause gastrointestinal disturbances in particular, it stands to reason that they may have more significant effects in the gastrointestinal system than some other foods. And, because psoriasis patients often also suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, eliminating foods that could exacerbate these conditions is ideal.
Different nightshade vegetables have different glycoalkaloids. The ones found in potatoes are the most toxic, and are primarily found in the skins and green areas of potatoes. Old potatoes also tend to have a higher glycoalkaloid content. Tomato glycoalkaloids are 20 times less toxic than those in potatoes, eggplants have even less, and peppers (of all nightshade vegetable varieties) have the least glycoalkaloid content of all. Whereas the potato glycoalkaloids are present mostly in potato skins, those in tomatoes and eggplant are primarily found in the flesh and seeds, and the amount of glycoalkaloids in tomatoes decreases the riper the fruit naturally gets (in contrast with potatoes, whose glycoalkaloid content increases with age).
All of the glycoalkaloids present in the nightshade foods are unlikely to be destroyed or neutralized by heat, even if they’re exposed to extremely high heat. So, boiling, baking, or frying any of these foods is irrelevant when it comes to the glycoalkaloid content.
Other health problems that may find relief with a no-nightshade diet include:
- Chronic pain
- Gastrointestinal syndromes
- Some neurologic/psychiatric syndromes
Eat 80% Alkaline Foods and 20% Acidic Foods – What to Eat (and NOT Eat) on the Psoriasis Diet
Balance is a vital part of the Psoriasis Diet. Because our bodies need some acidity in order to function, eating some foods that are acidic is still necessary. However, the modern diet tends to increase the acidity of the body to an unhealthy point, leading to conditions like psoriasis. Healing is more efficient when the body is sufficiently alkaline since the majority of pathogens cannot survive in an alkaline environment (those implicated in the development of psoriasis specifically don’t enjoy alkalinity). Thus, eating a diet consisting of primarily alkaline foods is extremely important.
The Psoriasis Diet advises following a diet consisting of 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods. Below is more detailed information on which foods are allowed in regard to their acid/alkaline-forming nature and other factors.
Alkaline and Acidic Fruits and Vegetables
Almost all fruits and vegetables are alkaline-forming with comparatively few exceptions. Therefore, as you follow this Psoriasis Diet, you may generally allow yourself to eat any fruit or vegetable so long as you eat it raw, boiled, steamed, or otherwise prepared without frying. Still though, there are some exceptions that you should keep in mind.
The acidic fruits and vegetables listed below are more acidic and should be lumped in with the “20%” portion of your diet that contains acid-forming foods.
- Large prunes
- Corn, mature and dried
- Winter squashes (including butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, etc.)
- Brussels sprouts
- Legumes/lentils (this includes nearly all beans, such as garbanzo beans, black beans, old navy beans, split peas, etc.)
- Nightshade vegetables (though not necessarily always acidic, they MUST be avoided… these include tomato, potato, chilies, peppers, and paprika among other listed above)
Otherwise, most other fruits and vegetables are fair game while you’re following the Psoriasis Diet. The goal is to balance your intake of fruits and vegetables (it’s understandable if you like one more than the other, but try to get ALL forms of fresh produce into your diet). Some people ascribe to the belief that fruits are cleansers while vegetables are builders, meaning that you should have a balanced amount of each in your diet in order to successfully purge toxins as well as rebuild any tissues or parts of your body that may have previously been damaged.
To decide on which vegetables to eat each day, you may follow the basic rule of eating 3 “above-ground” vegetables for every 1 “below-ground” vegetable. This rule was established by Dr. John Pagano. Many below-ground vegetables tend to be starchier and heavier, while most above-ground vegetables are somewhat lighter. Thus, the ratio of 3:1 of above-ground to below-ground vegetables is designed to help you increase your intake of light-yet-nutritious vegetables while still including the more filling (and also nutritious) vegetables in your diet. Since psoriasis patients tend to have gastrointestinal disturbances, combining smaller portions of heavier vegetables with larger portions of lighter vegetables makes sense for digestion.
Following this principle also makes it easier to choose meals for the day.
At the start of your day, choose 3 above-ground vegetables such as those in the list below to incorporate into your meals (ideally, you’ll eat these in a larger quantity):
Also choose 1 below-ground vegetable to eat on the same day. Here are some examples of below-ground vegetables that you might choose to eat:
- Sweet potato
Some particularly good vegetables for psoriasis patients are carrots (good for toxemia, or blood poisoning), onions, celery, all kinds of lettuce, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Keep mushrooms, beans, lentils, peas, and corn to a minimum (if you must eat corn, white corn is preferable).
Grains and Cereals
Most grains are acid-forming, meaning that they should be kept to a relative minimum. But, when you do choose to eat wheat, rice, or another grain (since this diet doesn’t require total elimination of grains, after all), you should always choose a whole-grain or wild version since the majority of the nutritional value of these grains lies in their outer coverings (which aren’t included in “white” grain varieties).
Psoriasis patients should also be aware that a gluten sensitivity may play a role in their symptoms, and even if they don’t think they have this sensitivity, they should begin (if possible) by cutting out all sources of gluten completely until they’ve regained some control over their health. Then, they may try slowly adding back in some healthy, whole-grain sources of gluten to see if they have any reaction. As long as there is no reaction, then they may eat gluten in the form of whole grains. If there is a reaction, continue to avoid gluten sources indefinitely. Sources of gluten include wheat, barley, rye, and oats (unless specified to be gluten-free), among others.
There are only a few types of grains that are considered alkaline, which are listed below. These kinds of grains may be eaten in somewhat higher quantities due to their alkalizing nature:
Other than these four grains, most other grains should be kept to an absolute minimum and considered as part of the 20% of acid-forming foods that you can eat in a day while on the Psoriasis Diet.
Permitted Meats on the Psoriasis Diet
A lot of people worry about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet. In reality, there are plenty of plants that contain more than enough protein to support health, and besides that, the vast majority of people following a modern diet are already taking in more protein than they really need in a given day. Nevertheless, meat (and other protein sources) provide vital nutrients like vitamin B12 and essential amino acids that are extremely important for a successful recovery from psoriasis as well as for maintaining health over time. For this reason, the Psoriasis Diet is not an entirely vegan or vegetarian diet, since some of the nutrients vital to health can only be found in meat products.
Before continuing onward with this section, keep in mind that people following the Psoriasis Diet should avoid ALL shellfish. This is an extremely common allergy/sensitivity that often aggravates symptoms for psoriasis patients. In addition, the high purine body content in shellfish can lead to excess uric acid production, which can cause gout, hyperuricemia, or even kidney stones in severe cases. For these reasons, shellfish is off the table on the Psoriasis Diet. Shellfish foods include shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters, mussels, squid, clams, and scallops, to name a few (when in doubt, look up the seafood item in question to see if it’s classified as shellfish or not).
In terms of meat on the Psoriasis Diet, nearly all red meats should be avoided (except lamb, which is discussed in more detail below). The following meats are the best choices for psoriasis patients and should be included in the “20%” acid-forming foods that may be eaten in a day:
- Fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids; it may be eaten 3-4 times per week; fish should not be blacked or cooked Cajun-style, nor should it be eaten salted, pickled, dried or smoked (ideally, choose fresh fish whenever possible); dark, oily fish varieties are preferred, with some good examples listed below)
- Solid white albacore
- Fresh sardines
- Wild salmon
- Poultry (an excellent protein source that contains practically all of the essential and conditionally essential amino acids; turkey, chicken, and duck all fall into this category)
- Lamb (the only red meat allowed on the Psoriasis Diet; contains high levels of zinc, which is valuable for improving immunity as well as for skin health; when and if you choose to eat lamb, remove any visible fat before cooking and eating it, and only eat the lamb well-done; limit consumption to a 4-6 ounce serving only 1-2 times per week)
In terms of preparing meats, you may boil, grill, roast, broil, bake, or poach your meat as you please. However, DO NOT FRY YOUR MEAT! You should also not bread or batter-fry the meat, nor season or cook it with any nightshade spices or plants like paprika, chili powder, tomatoes, or potatoes, to name a few. Also avoid serving meat with heavy or creamy sauces or garnishes that are heavily spiced (even if the spices/ingredients don’t include nightshades). Though you may have meat on the Psoriasis Diet, it should be eaten in moderation and served with plenty of other vegetables and fruits (excluding nightshades, of course). Meat is a heavier food item and requires more work from your body to digest, so aim to make the other foods on your plate with the meat lighter, easily digestible foods (in other words… don’t make the entire meal full of rich, heavy, protein-filled foods).
Dairy Products and Other Animal Products on the Psoriasis Diet
As we’ve already shown, you don’t have to go vegan (or even vegetarian) to follow the Psoriasis Diet. Eggs can be eaten in moderation along with the other 20% of acid-forming foods in your diet. Some people have called eggs “the perfect food”, referencing the broad-spectrum of nutrients that are available in eggs, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and healthy fats. You may eat eggs as a part of baked goods or on their own, but as with meats, try to not fry your eggs. Instead, poach or hard- or soft-boil your eggs (if you have a truly non stick pan that is not aluminum, then you may be able to get away with “frying” your eggs without any oil, which is also fine, the key point here is to not heat any oils). Ideally, patients on the Psoriasis Diet should also try to get free-range eggs whenever possible since these are the healthiest available.
Patients with psoriatic arthritis usually have a particularly low tolerance for dairy products, and should therefore avoid them without exception (at least until they achieve a full recovery, at which point they can add in small amounts of dairy if they want to test their sensitivity).
All psoriasis patients just starting on the Psoriasis Diet should plan to eliminate dairy (including goat’s milk) from their diet. Later on, after reaching a full recovery, you may try incorporating dairy back into your diet, but start with very small quantities (like a few sips of organic milk or a small slice of homemade cheese, ideally low-fat and sodium free). If you experience constipation, diarrhea, headaches, joint pain, stiffness, swollen feet, ankles, or legs, indigestion, or any kind of psoriasis flare-up or other symptoms, even if the symptoms are minor, then you likely have a dairy sensitivity and should continue to avoid it indefinitely.
Dairy is considered a “neutral” in terms of alkalinity and acidity, meaning that, technically, it is neither acid-forming nor alkaline-forming in the body. Because of this, some people say that dairy products are technically allowed on the Psoriasis Diet, but readers should note that the vast majority of dairy products in developed countries are generally contaminated with antibiotics or other undesirable chemicals and that they may cause subtle (or not-so-subtle) reactions, particularly in people who may already harbor a sensitivity (such as psoriasis patients). The China Study offers additional information for interested readers on the true effects of dairy on the body (it’s not what you think or what you “know” to be “true” about dairy).
So, unless you have access to dairy products that you are absolutely certain are not contaminated with anything unwanted (i.e. your friend has a cow and they make homemade cheese with that cow’s milk to give to friends and family), and you are absolutely certain that you don’t have any kind of sensitivity to dairy, no matter how small, then you should not include dairy in your Psoriasis Diet (most people are going to fall into one or both of these categories, though, and therefore should not include dairy in their permitted foods for this diet).
Goat’s milk products are generally an exception to this rule, and so if you prefer true milks and cheeses from an animal, goat’s milk that’s free from nitrates or other preservatives is a good, neutral choice. For people with eczema, goat’s milk may actually have a healing effect when consumed in moderation and in combination with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Remember though to moderate your consumption of these foods, and consider eliminating them completely at first and adding them back in later in case you have a sensitivity to all dairy that you’re currently unaware of.
There are also plenty of other vegan milk, cheese, and cream options that are now available in most parts of the world for people who need to cut out dairy from their diets (either permanently or temporarily). In addition, there are many, many plant-based calcium sources, such as dark leafy greens, tofu, dried figs, raisins, and sesame seeds, to name a few. In fact, dairy’s action in the body can actually be counterproductive for bone health and calcium absorption (again, reference the China Study for more information), so if calcium is a concern for you, turn to the plant sources instead.
Sweeteners on the Psoriasis Diet
The primary sweeteners permitted on the Psoriasis Diet are monk fruit and stevia. These are both natural, plant-based sweeteners. When purchasing these two sweeteners, make sure that the product you get is pure, and that it doesn’t contain other ingredients like erythritol, sucralose, or aspartame, to name a few (a more complete list is below). Inulin, however, is a natural (and even helpful) ingredient that you might come across in monk fruit and stevia products that has a lightly sweet taste and a somewhat granular texture. Otherwise, avoid any monk fruit or stevia products that contain additives.
Fresh fruit juices or purees can also be used as sweeteners. Fresh, pureed pears, for example, are a good choice for adding a relatively neutral-flavor sweetness. Do not use bananas or pureed apples to sweeten foods on the Psoriasis Diet since these should only be eaten on their own (do not mix them with any other fruits or foods).
Below are some examples of prohibited sweeteners on the Psoriasis Diet (with the exception of honey and blackstrap molasses, all of the sweeteners listed below should be avoided both during and after recovery). This is not a complete list, but it comprises some of the most commonly seen sweeteners that you’ll come across while reading ingredients lists or shopping for food:
- White sugar and powdered sugar
- Brown sugar and molasses
- Corn syrups (including high fructose corn syrup)
- Beet sugar
- Evaporated cane juice syrup and sugars
- Brown rice syrup
- Acesulfame K
- Erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and other sugar alcohols
- Agave nectar
- Honey **
- Maple syrup
- Fructose, sucrose, etc.
- Molasses ***
** Raw, organic honey can be used in small quantities AFTER you regain control of your health. At first, however, you should avoid raw honey, especially if you also suffer from a Candida albicans infection. If you choose to add in small quantities of honey later on, make sure to thoroughly screen the honey you choose to ensure that it’s raw, pure, and organic, and avoid heating it since this destroys the nutrient content of the honey in most cases.
*** Molasses should not be eaten during psoriasis recovery, however blackstrap molasses (not other kinds) can be added back into the diet in small quantities after you recover completely. Blackstrap molasses can have high nutritional value and therefore can be used from time to time IN MODERATION.
A Note on Coffee, Tobacco, and Alcohol…
Coffee is an acid-forming drink, and should be avoided completely if at all possible. Alcohol is also acid-forming and should be avoided completely. Tobacco, as a member of the nightshade family, is also strongly contraindicated for psoriasis patients. Unfortunately though for psoriasis sufferers, all three of these substances happen to be highly addictive as well as connected to social situations, so a lot of people have a hard time quitting them while on this diet.
In regard to coffee, Dr. John Pagano recommends that if you can’t break the habit completely, at least cut back on your coffee intake. Aim to drink no more than 3 cups of coffee per day, and if you can back off further than this, do so. The less coffee you can drink each day, the better, and ideally it should be decaffeinated and organic if possible. If you must start with some caffeinated coffee to wean yourself off the habit, this is of course understandable, but try to work toward only decaf coffee (caffeine is highly acidifying, so you’ll want to consume as little of it as possible in order to be successful in following this diet).
Tobacco is a nightshade family plant, and thus, a smoking habit could cause a significant impediment to recovery for someone with psoriasis. Even second-hand smoke has been shown to interfere with the recovery of some psoriasis patients. For this reason (among other health-related reasons) we recommend working toward quitting any smoking habit you may have as you work with this Psoriasis Diet and other treatments to regain your health. Quitting smoking and/or nicotine addictions of any kind is an essential part of recovery for a lot of psoriasis sufferers.
Alcohol should be consumed in extreme moderation if at all, since like coffee, it is acidifying. Red wine does have some health benefits, so if you regularly enjoy a small glass of red wine with dinner, you can consider continuing this habit after a few weeks of treatment so long as it doesn’t interfere with your progress. At first, however, aim to cut out the alcohol completely. Add it back into your diet later on in very small quantities to test how your body reacts to it. Some people may be more sensitive than others to alcohol, and it’s very difficult to know in a lot of cases how sensitive you really are without cutting it out and adding it back in at a later time after you’ve regained some control over your health (this is true with all foods that pose potential sensitivity-related problems).
If you have an addiction to any of these three substances, reference our book, “The Anti-Addiction Encyclopedia” for more information about how to naturally overcome addiction.
Other Considerations When Following the Psoriasis Diet
- You may of course eat fruit while following the Psoriasis Diet, but you should NOT eat melons, raw apples, or bananas with any other fruit or food. These three types of fruits should only be eaten by themselves as a snack (you can eat them while on this diet, just not with anything else).
- Don’t overeat. Overeating isn’t good in any situation, and this is especially the case while you’re following the Psoriasis Diet. Eat moderate quantities and don’t eat more than you need to feel full after a snack or meal (be aware that this amount varies from person to person, so I’m not offering up any portion size examples here).
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day, every day, in addition to any teas or fresh juices you might have.
- Don’t eat large quantities of acid-forming foods in one meal. Try to space out your 20% of acid-forming foods in meals throughout the day. Eating multiple acid-forming foods (or large amounts of them) in one sitting could provoke a flare-up, especially in the beginning stages of treatment.
- Don’t drink at the same time that you eat. Wait at least 30 minutes before and after eating to drink anything. Drinking at the same time as eating can interfere with digestion by confusing the enzyme receptors in your digestive tract as well as by potentially washing away any enzymes that have already been secreted.
- Romaine lettuce and sweet potatoes are two of the most nutrient-rich vegetables available on the Psoriasis Diet (keep in mind though that even though these veggies are very good for you, you should not ONLY eat these! Variety is good too… just be aware that these two specific vegetables will be helpful to you, and that you should try to incorporate them into your weekly meals at the very least).
- Understand the importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You should aim to get a dose of these somehow each day. The Quark Recipe is a good choice since this will help reenergize your cells from the inside out while also giving your body an appropriate dose of Omega-3’s in the form of flaxseed oil. You may also get Omega-3’s from fish (appropriate varieties discussed above) or fish oil, cat’s claw oil, evening primrose oil, or coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. A variety of sources of Omega-3’s is generally the best option for most people with psoriasis, but if you gravitate toward one source in particular, that’s fine too.
- Don’t eat citrus fruits in combination with dairy products, eggs, or any products containing white flour (which you shouldn’t be eating on this diet anyways). Wait at least 30 minutes before and after eating citrus fruits to eat any of these foods listed above.
- While following this diet, you should be having a bowel movement AT LEAST once a day (up to three times per day is ideal). If you notice yourself having less than this, use an enema if needed to encourage elimination.
Modifications for Specific Situations
Below I’ve made some notes for people in specific situations. The diet described above is a general diet that may be followed by people with psoriasis, however some other accompanying illnesses or health problems require certain modifications to this diet in order for it to be helpful to them.
- Patients with eczema or psoriatic arthritis should not consume strawberries or citrus fruits (citrus and strawberry juices are also off limits). People who are sensitive to these types of fruits should also avoid them. If you’re not sure whether or not you harbor a sensitivity, eliminate strawberries and citrus from the start and add them back in later to see how your body responds.
- Individuals who have gout should not eat avocados. These people should also avoid wine and other forms of alcohol completely without exception.
- Eczema patients and individuals with Candida albicans infections should avoid consuming high quantities of fruit and fruit juices. For people with Candida in particular, the high sugar content of fruit can be counter-productive, so minimize fruit intake until you recover (at which point you can eat more fruit, if you’d like).
 Childers, N.F. PhD et. al. (1993). An Apparent Relation of Nightshades (Solanaceae) to Arthritis. Retrieved January 13, 2022 from: https://www.noarthritis.com/research.htm
 Pagano, John O. A., DC (2009). Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative (1st ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
 Ede, Georgia (n.d). How Deadly Are Nightshades? Retrieved January 13, 2022 from: https://www.diagnosisdiet.com/full-article/nightshades