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Red Meat and Processed meats and Psoriasis

Red Meat and Processed meats and Psoriasis

Why red meat is on the list of psoriasis triggers and can you eat red meat at all?

When your psoriasis flared up, and you are looking to eliminate the triggers to reduce the inflammation, analyze your red meat (and processed meat) consumption. Because red meat is another known trigger for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and the elimination of red meat from your diet could help heal your psoriasis massively.

7 Reasons why red meat could be triggering psoriasis flare-ups

Although red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb and mutton) is a good source of high-quality protein, vitamin B-12, iron, experiences some studies suggest that it just doesn’t do well for psoriasis. [1] Here are some reasons why red meat could be triggering psoriasis flareups and worsening your inflammation.

1) Red meat is hard to digest

It is well known that saturated fat from animal sources, especially from red meats such as beef, lamb, pork, is harder to digest. Excessive consumption of heavy foods can harm the digestive system and the gut. Often, a diet high in meats causes constipation, and constipation also can trigger psoriasis flare-ups.

According to nutritionist Dr David Friedman, author of the book titled Food Sanity or How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction, Red Meat is protein-dense in comparison to poultry and fish and it requires more acid secretion by the stomach’s parietal cells and more active enzyme secretion by the pancreas for optimal digestion. “When the body produces excess acid to digest red meat ,  it can lead to digestive issues like acid reflux, heartburn, abdominal pain and bloating. Red meats take up to 5 hours to digest while Chicken takes 1,5 to 2 hours and Fish takes 30 minutes to digest.”

2) High in high in cholesterol and saturated fat

Eating too much-saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels. Red meats have 40% of total fatty acids in the lean component and 48% in the fat component. In beef and veal, approximately half of the saturated fatty acid in both the lean and fat component of red meat is palmitic acid, and about a third is stearic acid. In lamb and mutton, the proportions of these two fatty acids are more similar. There is little variation between cuts in the proportion of fatty acids.[2]

3) Saturated fats from animal source are Inflammatory for some conditions

Diet high in saturated fats and trans-fats can trigger an inflammatory response especially in those with autoimmune conditions and other gut-related disorders. A study suggests that a diet that is high in fat, especially high in saturated and trans fat, is closely related to obesity, metabolic syndrome and gastrointestinal diseases. [3]

Although it is worth noting that saturated fat is not always bad; coconut oil is praised by the community as the top remedy for psoriasis is also high in saturated fat, however, it melts as soon as it touches your body temperature and easy to digest unlike saturated fats from aminal sources.

4) Read meats and processed meats are acid-forming

You might have heard about an alkaline diet or maybe have seen social media posts of people with psoriasis reporting improvement following the diet. The alkaline diet aims to eliminate acid-forming foods and red meats and processed meats are on the side of “foods to avoid” in this diet.

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs less than 7 are acidic while pHs greater than 7 is alkaline. However not all low pH foods are acid-forming, some of the acid-forming foods actually have a higher pH.

Some of the acid-forming foods include:

AlcoholDeep fried foodsSunflower and pumpkin seeds
Carbonated drinksRed meatsSweeteners
ChocolateProcessed grainsTobacco
Coffee and other caffeinated drinksSome nutsUnfermented dairy
Citrus and Sour fruitsSugarUnsprouted beans

As we can see, almost all of the above-listed foods are already known as triggers. This could be the indicator that psoriasis has a lot to do with acidity. Not only food but stress too makes our body acidic, and stress is a major trigger for psoriasis.

5) Animals fed with corn and antibiotics

We get the nutrients from the food we consume, and too much of anything can cause a health problem. What about animals? Does the food they eat affect their health?

This has been a growing concern for many people. Many studies have shown that the nutrients in beef can vary depending on what cows eat. Throughout evolution, the meat humans consumed were from the animals that ate grass and roamed freely. However, today, the meat we consume is mainly from animals kept indoors and fed grains and treated with antibiotics, even when they are not sick.

Why are cattle fed with grains?
  • Grains can be stored throughout the year, whereas grass does not grow all year round. So feed-grain is accessible and cheaper compared to grass feeding.
  • Grains give more calories, and cattle gain weight fast and reach the market weight so much faster than grass-fed cattle.
What is wrong with grain-fed cattle?
  • According to James B. Russell from the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ithaca, New York; When cattle are fed grain, productivity is increased, but Low-fiber rations can be very stressful for the animal. Acid buildup can cause ulcers in animals consuming too much grain: Then infectious bacteria come from the rumen through the ulcers, into blood, and finally into the liver, where they cause abscesses,” Russell said. Feed additives such as antibiotics can counteract such ailments, but they further alter the ruminal microbial ecosystem, he added. Finally, grain-based diets can promote Escherichia coli (E. coli) within the digestive tract of cattle, and these E. coli are more likely to survive acid shocks that mimic the human gastric stomach. This discovery, first reported by Russell and colleagues in 1998 (Science, 11 September), has now been confirmed. Other USDA scientists have likewise shown that cattle switched from grain-based diets to hay were less likely to shed harmful E. coli 0157:H7 in faeces.[4]
  • Another concern is that the increased use of feed-grain has resulted in increased use of antibiotics. Researchers report that the growing demand for animal protein in low- to middle-income countries has resulted in a smorgasbord of antibiotic consumption for livestock, which has nearly tripled the occurrence of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing bacteria between 2000 and 2018.[5]

6) Neu5Gc – a common sialic acid sugar found in red meat Promotes Inflammation

According to a study, Neu5Gc, a non-human sugar found in red meat promotes inflammation and cancer progression in rodents. Neu5Gc is naturally found in most mammals but not in humans. In this study, they hypothesized that eating red meat could lead to inflammation if the body’s immune system is constantly generating antibodies against consumed animal Neu5Gc, a foreign molecule. Chronic inflammation is known to promote tumour formation. To test this hypothesis, the team engineered mice to mimic humans in that they lacked their own Neu5Gc and produced antibodies against it. When these mice were fed Neu5Gc, they developed systemic inflammation. Spontaneous tumour formation increased fivefold and Neu5Gc accumulated in the tumours. [6]

7) Iron and heme in red meat

A Study by Chung-Jyi Tsai et al. suggests that higher consumption of heme iron is associated with a greater risk of gallstone disease among men.[7]

Dr. Robert H. Lustig says “Red meat probably is bad, but not for the reasons you think, it might actually be the iron and the heme that’s in the red meat, rather than the saturated fat. Because iron and heme are both oxid, that’s oxidative stress, and that does cause disease”. [8]

Can you still eat red meat if you have Psoriasis?

Diet is a personal choice, and everyone’s triggers are different. However, red meat and processed meats have always been on top of the “Foods To Avoid” list for Psoriasis. If you are determined to heal from the inside out, red meats are best avoided, and processed meats are a big no-no during flare-ups.

What if i can’t say no to Red Meat?

If you can’t say no to red meat, then minimize your consumption and avoid antibiotics or hormone administered and grain-fed meat and choose Organic and Grass-fed and most importantly Grass-Finished beef.

What is the difference between grass-fed, 100% grass-fed, grass-finished and grain-finished?

  • When choosing meat, always look for “100% grass-fed” or “grass-finished” because the label “grass-fed” may not mean the cow ate grass the entire time. Cattle can start on grass at earlier stages of their lives then switch to concentrated feed like feed-grain, and in this case, the beef is grass-fed and grain-finished.

Why Organic?

  • USDA Certified Organic means the cattle fed 100% organic and non-GMO feed and forage and this applies to both grass-fed or grass-finished meat. It also would mean that cows were raised in natural living conditions and never administered antibiotics or hormones.

What about Keto and Carnivore Diets for Psoriasis?

One might wonder, with keto or carnivore diets, some people seem to be healing while eating red meat?

The body uses three main nutrients to function— carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates – sugar and starch, for example, are readily broken down into glucose. Glucose can be used immediately as fuel or can be sent to the liver and muscles and stored as glycogen. The body’s principal energy source is glucose and the second choice is fat.

The problem is, most of the time we consume meats together with carbohydrates and high-sugar and high-sodium condiments, making it even harder for the digestive system to process and digestive issues can be a problem for psoriasis and other conditions linked to the leaky gut syndrome.

  • In Keto and Carviniore diets, the body uses fat as an energy source because there are no sugars to burn in the carnivore diet and the keto diet is extremely low carb and low sugar. Red meat is hard to digest; however, in these high protein high-fat diets, you are not putting extra pressure on the digestive system by adding carbs and sugars but replacing them with more leafy greens and vegetables, which means more fibre that improves digestion.
  • In vegetarian and vegan diets, the body uses glucose as an energy source. Vegetarian and vegan diets can be heavy on carbs, from grains, bread, starchy vegetables, and fruits however there is no fat to put additional pressure on the digestive system.

If you are eating a balanced diet, aim for efficient digestion, and avoid combining proteins with carbohydrates at the same meal or avoid red meats altogether for better healing (at least during flare-ups).


[1] Kanda, Naoko et al. “Nutrition and Psoriasis.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,15 5405. 29 Jul. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21155405

[2] Williams, P. G.: Nutritional composition of red meat 2007. https://ro.uow.edu.au/hbspapers/48

[3] Zhang, Mei, and Xiao-Jiao Yang. “Effects of a high-fat diet on intestinal microbiota and gastrointestinal diseases.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 22,40 (2016): 8905-8909. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i40.8905

[4] American Association For The Advancement Of Science. “Diet And Disease In Cattle: High-Grain Feed May Promote Illness And Harmful Bacteria.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010511074623.htm>.

[5] Princeton University. “Antibiotic resistance in food animals nearly tripled since 2000.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191009132321.htm>.

[6] University of California, San Diego “Neu5Gc, a non-human sugar found in red meat, promotes inflammation and cancer progression in rodents” December 23, 2014  |  Heather Buschman, PhD

[7] Tsai, Chung-Jyi et al. “Heme and non-heme iron consumption and risk of gallstone disease in men.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 85,2 (2007): 518-22. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.2.518

[8] University of California Television (UCTV) “Red Meat, Disease, and Inflammation” Robert H. Lustig, M.D., M.S.L. Aug 8, 2020

Disclaimer: Dear reader, any and all the content on OffPsoriasis.com Is created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

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