Stress and certain medications, including beta blockers and NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), can trigger psoriasis.

Sunburns, scratches, and insect bites also tend to cause flare-ups. Could what you’re eating also play a role? Research has not yet proven a definitive link between your diet and psoriasis. However, many people find they experience flare-ups after enjoying certain foods, while certain foods seem to help ward off exacerbations.

Nightshades

You might be more familiar with nightshade plants when they go by more familiar names, such as tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers. Some people are sensitive to certain chemical components in these plants, which seem to aggravate their psoriasis and cause inflammation. If this is you, you may be better off choosing other vegetables to eat. However, if you don’t have trouble with them, eat up! They’re full of vitamins and nutrients

Alcohol

If you’re noticing a flare-up after a drink or two, it’s not a coincidence. Research suggests alcohol might contribute to the production of certain proteins that affect the behavior of other cells. These proteins are pro-inflammatory cytokines—and they may exacerbate your psoriasis. What’s more, alcohol can undermine the effectiveness of some treatments.

Red Meat

Eating a lot of meat high in saturated fat, such as fatty beef, can raise your risk of heart disease. Research suggests people with inflammatory immune disorders like psoriasis may be at increased risk for heart disease. That’s reason enough to limit this type of food in your diet. Some people also experience flare-ups with their psoriasis after consuming red meat. Smoked meats also seem to contribute to flare-ups for some people. Opt for lean meats instead.

Gluten

Avoiding foods containing gluten—a protein in certain grains—and its derivatives may help some people with psoriasis. Some people see improvements in joint pain or skin condition when they eliminate gluten from their diet, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. More research is necessary to pinpoint the exact link. But if you go this route, it may take at least three months to tell if you’re experiencing any benefits.

Dairy Products

It might be a little painful to consider that your favorite ice cream may be causing your psoriasis to flare, but research suggests that dairy products can contribute to inflammation. If you just can’t imagine giving up milk and cheese, go for the low-fat or fat-free versions instead. Or, try non-dairy versions—yes, even ice cream—made with almond milk, coconut milk, or another cow’s milk substitute.

Processed Foods

Processed foods—snack foods and junk food—may be making your psoriasis worse. They’re probably not helping your overall health, either. In fact, the empty calories can lead to weight gain—which can also worsen psoriasis symptoms. Consider replacing these foods with fresh fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors. Strawberries, figs and blueberries may satisfy your sweet tooth while providing important vitamins and nutrients. For salty crunch, turn to nuts, popcorn, or trail mix.

Consider eating omega-3s instead.

Now for some good news—there are foods that seem to help reduce inflammation. This includes cold-water fish, such as sardines, mackerel, and herring that contain omega-3 fatty acids. More research is necessary to prove—or disprove—a more definitive link, but some people find boosting their omega-3 consumption can help reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. Additionally, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends upping your intake of plant sources of omega-3s, which include walnuts, flaxseeds, olive oil, and pumpkin seeds.

Medical reference: CNN Health