Manage Psoriasis Through Lifestyle & Diet
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which manifests as dry, almost scaly, itchy skin. It occurs because the body’s immune system is sending out faulty signals that lead to a sped-up growth cycle of skin cells.
It is one of close to one hundred types of autoimmune spectrum of symptoms that have been documented. Autoimmune diseases occur when our body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.
People who suffer psoriasis know it is irritating and unpredictable. Doctors find it one of the most persistent and baffling of skin disorders.
With a psoriasis flare-up, the body’s skin cells can multiply up to ten times faster than usual. When the underlying cells make it to the surface of the skin and die, the sheer volume of the additional cells can cause red, raised “plaques” that are covered with white scales. The look of the scales cause embarrassment to those who suffer, but the outbreaks are generally harmless and can subside with appropriate treatment.
Psoriasis shows up in your immune system in the white blood cells, called a T cell; these cells, when working correctly, shield your body from infection and disease. Individuals with overactive or T cells that have gone haywire develop psoriasis when the cells trigger an immune response to an event that is not truly occurring within your body.
What are the symptoms of plaque psoriasis?
1. Patches of flaky, scaly, often white skin – can be painful and itchy
2. Red, raised patches on your skin covered with a silvery buildup of dead skin cells
3. It appears most often on the elbows, lower back, knees, and scalp. Psoriasis patches can also appear on your ears, eyelids, feet, lips, hands and mouth
4. In addition, up to thirty percent of individuals with psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis; this causes muscle pain and stiffness and swelling in and around the joints.
Interestingly as with most other autoimmune disorders there seems to be a specific trigger event that can bring on a breakout of psoriasis, however the exact cause and a cure remains elusive. These triggers can be emotional as well as environmental.
A genetic connection
One in three people impacted by psoriasis have a family history of the disease. A child’s risk for psoriasis will increase if his or her parent(s) has the condition; if one parent has psoriasis, the child has a ten percent chance of developing it, it both parents have it, the child’s risk increases to fifty percent.
Narrowing down the specific genes that cause psoriasis has not yielded definitive answers yet as there are at least two dozen genetic variants noted as potential causes.
The causes of psoriasis
Doctors and researchers have noted a variety of factors that can cause a flare-up of psoriasis and those range from trauma to streptococcal infection and/or emotional stress.
Close to eighty percent of individuals who suffer a flare-up report a “recent emotional trauma” as the cause; these traumas include a death of a loved one, a new job or other personal upheaval. Doctors believe that external stressors can trigger these inherited genetic defects in immune function and lead to the flare-up.
Other triggers can include:
2. Food sensitivity to gluten, dairy or other foods.
3. Weather conditions that lead to dry skin
4. Excessive weight
6. Alcohol consumption
How can diet help avoid a flare-up?
In order to help counteract many of the effects of psoriasis and a flare-up of symptoms, individuals need to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. A healthy diet and supplements to enhance the necessary vitamins and minerals that we simply don’t get enough of in our diet alone can help address inflammation.
A healthy diet will boost your overall health and help control the potential of psoriasis symptoms, and can aid with weight loss, lower blood pressure and help you live a longer, healthier life. A psoriasis patient may experience worsened and more prolonged flare-ups if they are overweight and eat foods that lead to inflammation.
If you want to counteract the impact of psoriasis and its flare-ups and impact on your life, base your diet on inflammatory foods such as:
1. Omega-3 fats found in wild-caught Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. These fats help reduce inflammation and enhance the body’s immune system.
2. Pumpkin and flaxseeds. These seeds are high in omega-3 fats and their essential oils are beneficial in reducing inflammation. Flaxseed oil is also beneficial in both addressing the symptoms of psoriasis, but other skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.
3. Kale, spinach and other green, leafy vegetables. It’s been shown that eating vegetables high in vitamin K help lower inflammation in the body.
4. Walnuts, almonds and other raw nuts. Increase the intake of anti-inflammatory and plant-based omega-3 fats by eating a quarter cup of walnuts and almonds daily. Almonds may also boost hair and skin health.
5. Turmeric. This health-boosting spice contains curcumin and that has anti-inflammatory properties. A study found that an individual with psoriasis, who took curcumin gel and also eat a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods, saw a reduction in flare-ups of symptoms. This versatile spice can be added to foods and drinks or can be ingested in supplement form.
Foods to avoid if you have psoriasis
1. Processed foods. This is a good idea whether you suffer psoriasis or not. Processed foods lack nutrients and are typically high in refined sugars and harmful trans fats.
2. Tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. These fruits and vegetables are in the nightshade family and contain solanine – this may promote human mast cell activation and can lead to an increase in psoriasis symptoms.
3. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and other citrus. These fruits do have health benefits, but they are also an allergen for many. Avoid eating these fruits and their juices if you suffer psoriasis.
4. Gluten. There is a link between gluten intolerance and psoriasis, however the connection is not clear. People have found if they eliminate gluten from their diet they see improved psoriasis symptoms.
5. Drinking alcoholic beverages leads to dehydration and this is hard on the skin and can worsen psoriasis.
6. Dairy products contain arachidonic acid and casein and these proteins have been linked to psoriasis.
7. Processed red meats also contain arachidonic acid and should be avoided. If you’re eating red meat, look for grass fed varieties from animals that have not been fed with artificial foods and additives.
Look for Your Triggers
When you understand that stress, lifestyle and certain foods can cause flare-ups, avoid them. And then find ways to replace the foods, habits and buffer your ability to handle those stressors.
While there is no “cure” and definitive answer to why some individuals’ bodies cells multiply more quickly and cause psoriasis, the connection between a healthy, well-balanced diet is clear.
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods benefits the whole body and can lead to enhanced health, lower blood pressure and myriad other health benefits. In addition, nutritional supplements to enhance a healthy, well-balanced diet and keeping active will keep you healthier, your mind clearer and your body stronger.