A proper diet is often recommended to help psoriasis sufferers with their skin condition.
Eating well would control the impact of psoriasis, reduce the area of injury and improve quality of life.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease of the skin that affects the life cycle of epidermal cells (which renew themselves too quickly: in 4 to 6 days instead of 21 usually). It is a common, non-contagious skin condition that affects more than 130 million people on our planet, but no remedy can completely cure.
Psoriasis causes the cells to accumulate quickly on the surface of the skin. This accumulation forms layers of silvery film resembling small scales, called dander, as well as red areas (but not everyone develops these red patches) or small white-tip pimples (in the psoriatic case called “in drop” ).
These dander and red patches are dry. These lesions often cause itching, and are sometimes painful. They are harmless, but have the disadvantage of spoiling the aesthetics of patients.
They evolve randomly, with periods of relapses followed by remissions (the scales and plaques disappearing, partially or almost completely depending on the individual).
For some, psoriasis is a simple nuisance. For others, it is disabling, especially for those who also have arthritis. There is no cure for it to completely and definitely heal, but there are some treatments and a proper diet that can offer significant relief to the psoriasis sufferers.
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Best treatments and diet for psoriasis sufferers
Measures to integrate into the lifestyle of the patient can improve the symptoms of this chronic disease: use of a cortisone cream sold without a prescription, such as “Cortizone.10” and expose the skin to small amounts of sunlight, avoid being stressed as well as some foods (but the food character is not scientifically proven, it is simple observations made by some patients).
Recall that an autoimmune disease is explained by an exaggerated activity of the immune system against substances / tissues whose presence in the organ is usually accepted.
The cause of autoimmune diseases is not yet well known, but experts argue for a combination of multiple factors: genetic predisposition (in 30% of patients), triggered by infection, presence of a chemical or a food product poorly tolerated by the body.
There are some foods that you should prefer and some to eat in moderation to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis (without claiming to heal).
A weight loss diet can help psoriasis sufferers
Before you begin, be aware that when you are overweight or obese, weight loss can be helpful in controlling psoriatic lesions.
However, although many psoriasis sufferers find that a certain diet can help cleanse their skin, or that some foods make the condition of the dermis worse, know that no scientific study has yet firmly established a link between nutrition and this chronic dermatosis.
There is therefore no “miracle Psoriasis diet” strictly speaking to cure this disease. However, people suffering from this disorder should try a rebalancing diet to lose weight if they are overweight.
Indeed, specialists in this condition know that obese people have an increased risk of developing this chronic dermatosis, and that losing weight can help improve its symptoms.
Achieving a healthy weight and eating healthier overall are the main goals when dieticians and nutritionists work with patients suffering from this condition.
It is an inflammatory disease, and these specialists know that weight loss can decrease the level of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a protein produced by the body in response to inflammation. Increasing the level of physical activity and slimming can help lower the level of CRP.
Diet foods to focus on to help psoriasis sufferers
1 – Try the “Pyramid of Food Healers”
The image on the left summarizes what to consume according to the principle of this pyramid.
Choose foods that contain antioxidants (such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.) that can reduce inflammation.
Some psoriatic patients say they have greatly reduced remissions since they began following a diet low in protein and bad fats, and focusing on vegetarian foods as well as water.
This special diet is called the “Pyramid of Healing Foods“.
It was designed by the Integrative Medicine Clinic of the University of Michigan (USA) in 2005.
Here are the highlights of this specific diet:
- Water: 2 to 3 litres (4 to 6 pints) a day.
- Fruits and vegetables: 4 servings of fruits and 8 servings of vegetables each day.
- Carbohydrates (cereals, whole grains, starchy foods, etc.): 4 to 11 servings a day (mostly whole grains).
- Legumes including soy: 2 to 5 servings / day.
- Good fats: 3 to 9 servings / day.
- Seasonings: a variety of spices, herbs (including garlic) every day.
- Dairy products: 1 to 3 servings a day, mainly skim milk.
- Eggs: Only 1 per day maximum, except for people who already have high cholesterol and who must limit their consumption of dietary cholesterol (in this case 1 or 2 eggs per week maximum).
- Fish and seafood: 2 to 4 servings a week, take omega-3 fatty acid supplements too.
- Lean meats: 1 to 3 servings a week.
- Alcohol: 1 drink maximum per day.
- Dark chocolate: up to 200 g per week.
- Tea: 2 to 4 cups (25 cl / 8.4 US fluid oz) a day.
- Coffee: also 2 to 4 cups (25 cl / 8.4 US fluid oz) a day
Adopting the diet recommended as seen in the pyramid of food healers can relieve psoriasis symptoms in some patients
Even if you cannot make all the changes, make small adjustments (eat more vegetables, replace white bread and white rice with whole grains, eliminate processed foods) to improve your health and relieve the symptoms of this disease inflammatory. Do them at your own pace and focus on positive food choices.
2 – Fruits and vegetables
Even if you do not follow the specific diet listed above, psoriasis sufferers should eat 2 to 4 servings of fruit and a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables every day.
Fruits and vegetables are filled with antioxidants that help control inflammation naturally. Experts often advise patients to select a variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables when they want to choose foods with high antioxidant content.
Some examples are red pepper, pineapple, spinach, raspberries, blueberries, carrots. It is better to find antioxidants in foods, rather than as supplements. This allows you to get all the benefits available in this fruit, not just what has been extracted and packaged into a pill.
What is a portion? Simply put, remember that a portion of fruit is an apple, an orange, a medium banana, 110 g / 4 oz of berries, 80 g / 3 oz of cooked or raw vegetables.
3 – Grains
Eat 4 to 11 servings of grain a day, preferably whole grains whole grain bread, cereals and whole pasta, oatmeal, brown rice).
Whole grains contain a variety of antioxidants fighting inflammation. They are also high in dietary fiber, which is associated with a lower level of inflammation.
What is a portion? Simple examples are a slice of whole grain bread, 50 g / 1.8 oz of cooked pasta, 25 g / 0.88 oz of cereal, 70 g / 2.5 oz of cooked rice.
4 – Beans and lentils
Eat 1 to 3 servings of lentils, beans, peanuts or peas a day. These foods are excellent sources of vegetable protein, and contain many antioxidants as well as fiber.
A portion of cooked lentils or beans weighs about 100 grams / 3.5 oz.
5 – Soy
Eat 1 to 2 servings of soy milk, edamame, tofu and soy nuts each day.
Why this type of food would be a useful diet for psoriasis sufferers? Various studies have shown a link between reduced inflammation and consuming soy. In addition, soy is an excellent source of protein and contains isoflavones, which can reduce inflammation according to the researchers.
What is a portion? 75 edamame (not yet husked), 1 large glass (25 cl / 8.45 fl oz) of soy milk, 30 g / 1 oz of soy nuts, 120 g / 4.23 oz of tofu.
6 – Lipids
Every day, eat 3 to 9 servings of olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados, seeds or nut butters.
These are good fats, which can help the body fight inflammation. Avoid margarine that contains trans fat, and hydrogenated oils. These fats aggravate the inflammation.
What is a fat portion? 1 teaspoon of oil, 1 half-spoonful of walnut butter, 2 walnuts.
7 – Fish and seafood
Eat 2 to 4 servings a week. Choose fish that contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, anchovies, mackerel, tuna, sardines, especially wild varieties.
These foods are useful because their omega-3s help lower inflammation.
🙂 If you do not like to eat fish, you may want to consider taking omega-3 supplements.
A portion of fish weighs between 110 and 170 grams / 4 to 6 oz.
Foods to eat in moderation or to avoid
If you want a decrease (more or less strong from one patient to another) of this inflammatory disease, that is to say its remission, it will consist in reducing the consumption of certain food products.
Foods that may contribute to inflammation should actually be eaten in smaller amounts or even eliminated (at least during the period when you are trying to achieve remission). These include ready-to-eat industrial foods, junk food sold in fast foods outlets, foods high in saturated and trans fats, refined starchy foods and sugar.
When having such inflammatory disorder, it is really necessary to avoid fried foods and fatty meats, as they promote inflammation. If you eat them once in a month, it could be tolerated, but definitely NOT once a week.
If you find another food that aggravates your psoriatic symptoms when you eat or drink, it will not hurt you to try to remove it from your diet.
Also, here are solid foods and drinks that are often mentioned by patients as causing outbreaks of their disease. You should consider removing them from your regular diet one by one in order to observe the potential effects on the symptoms:
1 – Alcohol
Drink alcoholic beverages as little as possible, at least until the symptoms disappear. Although the precise mechanism is still not known (inflammation is a possibility), some experts believe that alcohol triggers psoriatic outbreaks.
Why do experts advise patients to stop drinking? Alcohol opens blood vessels within the skin. But when the blood vessels become dilated,the white cells in the blood, including T cells (commonly referred to as thymocytes, a type of lymphocyte) that are thought to be the cause for psoriasis, can creep into the outermost layers of the skin even more easily, therefore you do not need to get more Tcells in. Your psoriatic symptoms may get worse even if you drink only a little alcohol.
2 – Junk foods
We are dealing here with an inflammatory disease. But junk foods have the tendency of being rich in saturated fat and trans fat, refined starchy foods and also sugars. All of these will promote inflammation.
And, another reason for avoiding junk foods, it is because of its high caloric content. While it has very little nutritional interest, yet psoriatic patients frequently have weight issues. If you suffer from this dermatological disease, you have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Overweight increases this risk.
3 – Red meats
Eat a maximum of 3 servings (60 to 90 grams / 2 to 3 oz) of meat a day. Choose lean cuts of chicken or turkey, flank, sirloin, pork tenderloin. Avoid fat cuts (including visible fat, including the skin) that contain more saturated fat (contributing to inflammation).
Red meat contains polyunsaturated fats called arachidonic acids. This kind of lipid can aggravate psoriatic symptoms as it can be converted easily into some inflammatory compounds. You should also avoid all processed meats like sausages, cold meats and bacon.
4 – Solanaceae
Some patients report that eating Solanaceae plants (which include peppers, eggplants, white potatoes and tomatoes) aggravates their symptoms.
These vegetables also contain a chemical compound called solanine, that triggers pain in certain people. Some patients think that when avoiding these vegetables, it will reduce your symptoms.
5 – Gluten
Some researchers believe that there is an increased incidence of celiac disease in psoriatic patients.
Patients with celiac disease do not digest a protein called gluten, which is present in wheat, rye and barley. Eating these foods can damage the lining of the small intestine, often resulting in chronic diarrhea and malnutrition. Some people with celiac disease, however, do not find any symptoms.
If you think gluten intolerance might be a problem for you, ask your doctor if you should be screened for celiac disease.
If you’re lactose intolerant, your psoriasis can improve when following a strict gluten-free diet (by avoiding anything that contains wheat, rye or barley).
It will take a very strong commitment to achieve this, but in some patients with lactose intolerance, avoiding these foods has lead them to a remission of psoriatic symptoms for several years in a row without finding evidence of negative side effects.
6 – Citrus fruits
At times, allergic reactions can cause a push. Citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons, are a standard allergen. Try removing them from your diet to see if it improves the condition of your skin.
If you’re one of the people who do not tolerate citrus, extend the derivative test like lemonades or grapefruit juices.
7 – Condiments
Some patients find that spices and condiments are their enemies. Those that appears to bring about the most issues to people suffering from psoriasis are pepper, cinnamon, vinegar, mayonnaise, paprika, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, etc. Substances that are present in such condiments can worsen the inflammation.
8 – Sugar
Try avoiding sweets as far as possible, as sugar increases inflammation within the body.
Although science has not yet confirmed a connection between the foods you consume and psoriatic breakouts, you may notice an improvement in your condition when you eliminate one or several of these foodstuffs.
Do not hesitate to share your discoveries with your physician so you do not miss an essential nutrient.
Combat stress at the same time
There are people for whom stress is clearly a trigger for outbreaks of this dermatological disease.
In 2004, a survey conducted by Scandinavian researchers found that over 66% of respondents said their psoriatic symptoms were exacerbated by stress. And 35% said the onset of this condition began during a time of worry and stress.
While there are no studies showing that reducing stress can improve your psoriasis, many patients swear by stress management strategies to control their symptoms.
Having been a psoriasis sufferer myself basically all my life, I had plenty of time to determine what are my triggers, and one that is certain is stress. It is enough that when something upsets me, frustrates me, or worries me, even unconsciously, my flares tend to reappear within 24 hours, or even less.
There is plenty of good material available on Amazon …
1 – Meditation
A 1998 a study carried out by the University of Masschusetts Medical Center (USA) found that psoriasis patients who listened to the anti-stress meditation tapes during the phototherapy sessions had their lesions gone faster than those who did not do it.
There are many resources to help you get started. It is advisable to meditate for 15 to 20 minutes every day. You can find classes especially in yoga centers. You can also search for CDs, DVDs or MP3s on Amazon …
2 – Move
Whether running, cycling, swimming, yoga or just walking, exercise is good for reducing stress in a global way.
For example, you can try running at least 5 times a week, for about 40 minutes each time. You have a good chance of seeing the condition of your skin improve.
Many people saw their first psoriasis flare during the period when they were very physically inactive and stressed.
3 – Learn to say no
If your to-do list is longer than your day, you should readjust your priorities. When you do not have time for yourself, something must be changed.
If you decide that your health deserves all the attention, rearrange your priorities accordingly. Review your schedule and responsibilities, and drop (or delegate) the least important things.
4 – Get support
A study conducted in 1991 found that psoriatic patients may feel extremely vulnerable and experience social isolation. However, the researchers found that a support group improved their psychological well-being.
Support groups can be very valuable. They allow you to share your experiences, which can be very cathartic (catharsis is a therapy that brings out traumatized experiences), and learn about other people’s coping strategies.
They will also advise you on how to explain to those around you that this epidermal disorder is not contagious.
5 – Get professional help
A 2007 study conducted at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (USA) evaluated 265 people with psoriasis. She found that 32% of them had depression.
Many psoriasis patients find that psychotherapy helps them to control the stress, anxiety and depression associated with this inflammatory disease.
Psychotherapy can help you develop coping skills to manage this skin problem. Your dermatologist can advise a therapist who has experience with psoriatic patients.
Other remedies to control this disease
Although no definite methods can currently claim to completely cure this dermatological condition, the main goal is rather to improve the aspect of the damaged skin.
In addition to avoiding alcohol and certain foods (case by case), in addition to eating the right foods, here are some other things that can be good for psoriasics:
What’s good …
- Take baths daily: washing yourself every day helps reduce dander and soothe inflamed skin. Include bath oil, Dead Sea salts, oatmeal, Epsom salts (Sedlitz salt), colloidal oatmeal, etc. to your bath water and let yourself to soak for a minimum of fifteen minutes. Avoid too hot water baths and irritating soaps, as it can make the symptoms worse. Instead, your bath water should be lukewarm and prefer a mild soap that contain added oils or fats.
- Use moisturizing creams: dab your skin immediately after bathing, and then apply heavy moisturizing lotion and ointment while the skin remains wet. If your skin is very dry, you may be better off using oils because they last longer than creams / lotions, and will be more effective in preventing water to evaporate from the skin. During the cold and dry seasons, you should apply a good moisturizer on your skin several times during the day.
- Cover the damaged areas overnight: in order to improve the appearance of redness and help flaking, apply ointment-based moisturizers to your skin and then wrap in plastic wrap for the night. The next morning, remove this envelope and wash the dander by taking a lukewarm shower or bath.
- Expose your skin in small periods of sunlight: only a controlled quantity of natural light can considerably improve the lesions, but an excessive amount of sun will trigger or aggravate breakouts, while increasing the risk of a skin cancer. When you are tanning, make short sessions 3 or even more times each week. Make sure that you keep a history of the duration and date of your tanning sessions to avoid overexposure.
Apply a sunscreen …
Also be sure to shield your skin with sunscreen with a SPF of a minimum of 40. Apply the cream generously, then reapply every 2 hours, or even more often in case that you are swimming or sweating. Before starting a tanning program, ask your doctor how best of using natural light to treat your skin.
- Apply medicated creams: Apply a non-prescribed ointment or cream which contains salicylate or hydrocortisone acid for reducing the itching and squamation. If you suffer from psoriasis on the scalp, try some medicated shampoo containing coal tar. Follow the instructions on the product’s label for better results.
- Avoid triggers as much as possible: try to find out the triggers (if any) that causes a worsening of your condition, and do what it takes to avoid or prevent these. Infections and injuries to your skin, intense exposure to the sun, smoking and stress can all aggravate this inflammatory disease (spreading it all over the body: elbows, armpits, feet, hands, back, around the eyes on the face, nails, etc.).
To know more …
There are also plenty of material on this website for you to read and put some of the methods into action. And remember that if you are one of the many psoriasis sufferers, or know of someone who is suffering from this condition, it is best to start with a proper diet.
If you also have this condition, what foods do you eat and do you avoid to control it? If you liked this article, please recommend it on Facebook, tweet it, give it a +1 vote on Google Plus.
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