Kim Kardashian isn't new to diet culture and has frequently been called out for promoting harmful and toxic standards — from problematic weight-loss comments to posting her body-fat percentage. But recently, she's pivoted to talking about a diet more focused on health benefits rather than aesthetics.
In an effort to manage symptoms of her psoriasis and the psoriatic arthritis that stems from it, Kardashian spoke about eating plant-based, alongside self-described "treat days" with pizza and doughnuts, in an interview for Poosh.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes the body to make new skin cells at a rapid pace, which can cause cells to pile up on the surface of the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The sped-up growth cycle results in thick, scaly patches that often appear on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp. But psoriasis is more than skin-deep — it's a sign of inflammation that has been linked to other conditions like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and psoriatic arthritis, says the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
Kardashian has tried a variety of at-home remedies to treat the condition, including wrapping her affected areas in plastic cling wrap. "I've found that putting ointment or cream on the bad areas and then wrapping them in Saran Wrap helps. But obviously, that can only be done in certain areas," she says.
But Kardashian claims that switching to a plant-based diet has helped immensely. "I try to eat as many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods as possible." Her favorites are sea-moss smoothies and plant-based tacos.
The NPF says there's no diet that can cure psoriasis. But according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are certain foods that can trigger an inflammatory response and make certain psoriasis symptoms worse, including dairy, refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta), foods with saturated fats and trans fat (fat in red meat, margarine, processed snacks), foods high in sugar (soda, fruit juice, candy), and foods that contain gluten. Instead, lean meats, plant-based proteins (like tofu and tempeh), fish, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and small amounts of low-fat dairy are recommended.
"In general, having a balanced whole-foods diet is the best approach to reduce inflammation throughout the body," according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, which particularly recommended the Mediterranean diet for psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis because it can "reduce chronic inflammation that contributes to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other conditions."
But that's not to say the plant-based diet doesn't have its benefits. According to studies, plant-based foods are rich in bioactive compounds, including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, polyphenols, and phenolic acids, which function as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and promote structural support of the skin. So Kardashian may be onto something. In general, dietary changes alone don't cause a large effect in psoriasis, but they may be more effective alongside additional treatments like immunosuppressive drugs and self-care such as stress management and light therapy.
In addition to tackling the skin problems of psoriasis, Kim also addressed the self-confidence struggles of the condition. Her advice? "You have to get to a place where you just feel comfortable and own it. Be able to realize it's a part of you."
Honestly, it's nice to see Kardashian sharing this advice and talking about diets outside of maintaining beauty standards, reminding us all that the food we consume can play a role in healing.