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Psoriasis, Inflammation and the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Psoriasis and Inflammation

Psoriasis is considered a chronic inflammatory disease that is characterized by high serum levels of various pro-inflammatory cytokines. It has been proposed that the inflammatory reaction that triggers the typical psoriasis symptoms results from an interaction between innate immunity (mediated by antigen-presenting cells and natural killer T lymphocytes) and acquired immunity (mediated by T lymphocytes). Considering the inflammatory nature of this chronic skin condition, it is not surprising that anti-inflammatory diets are gaining in popularity among psoriasis sufferers looking to find relief from their symptoms through dietary modification rather than drugs. While there are some subtle differences between various plans, in general, anti-inflammatory eating plans recommend that you:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants
  • Reduce the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet
  • Watch your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from foods (or supplements)
  • Eat lean protein protein sources, such as chicken, and cut back on red meat
  • Avoid refined and processed foods

In addition, some anti-inflammatory diets, such as the eating plan outlined in the anti-inflammatory guide and cookbook Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health, emphasize the importance of keeping your calories in check and your weight in a healthy range. Fat tissue can release a lot of inflammatory molecules into your bloodstream, so the higher your body fat percentage, the more inflammation you are likely to have.

The anti-psoriatic effects of some of the above-mentioned dietary habits, including a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil) and adherence to a low-calorie diet, have also been demonstrated in scientific studies. Also vegetarian diets have been associated with improved psoriasis symptoms in some studies. Although meat is not typically completely forbidden on anti-inflammatory diets, they do suggest that vegetables and fruits should play a key role in your diet if your goal is to reduce chronic inflammation in your body.

Aside from the beneficial effects on psoriatic skin, anti-inflammatory diets may also provide some additional, non-skin related benefits for people with psoriasis. A number of studies have found that people with psoriasis have an increased risk of certain other health problems, and many of these conditions have an inflammatory basis, suggesting that an anti-inflammatory diet might also help prevent or fight these conditions. Examples of conditions that occur more often in psoriasis sufferers than the general population and that have been linked to inflammation include:

  • Type 2 diabetes, a serious chronic disorder that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, chronic disorders that cause joint inflammation and pain in the feet, hands, hips and knees
  • Asthma, a lung disease can cause shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing
  • Chronic pulmonary disease (COPD), a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by shortness of breath, cough and sputum production.

So what's the bottom line?

Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, and therefore, it makes sense that an anti-inflammatory diet could help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with this common skin disorder. In fact, there is already some scientific evidence suggesting that a high intake of omega-3 rich foods and plant-based foods – a common characteristic of anti-inflammatory diets – may have anti-psoriatic effects. However, large-scale human studies are still needed before any definitive conclusions can be made about whether any specific anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce psoriasis symptoms.

Furthermore, before you embark on an anti-inflammatory diet in an attempt to reduce your psoriasis symptoms, it may be a good idea to talk to a qualified dietitian or nutritionist: as each anti-inflammatory diet plan comes with its own twist, you'll want to make sure that the plan you're considering is in fact the best choice for you. Some anti-inflammatory diets include foods that may trigger psoriasis symptoms in some (but not all) individuals, and a registered dietitian or certified nutritionist can help you identify those trigger foods.

1. C. Rodriguez-Cerdeira et al (2014). Study on Certain Biomarkers of Inflammation in Psoriasis Through "OMICS" Platforms. Open Biochem J. 2014; 8: 21-34.
2. M. Wolters (2005). Diet and psoriasis: experimental data and clinical evidence. British Journal of Dermatology, 153(4):706-14.
3. H. Yeung et al (2013). Psoriasis Severity and the Prevalence of Major Medical Comorbidity. JAMA Dermatology, 149(10):1173-1179.
4. H. Fang et al (2015). Association between psoriasis and asthma: a population-based retrospective cohort analysis. British Journal of Dermatology, 172(4):1066-71.

Book You May Like
Omega 3 Diet BookEvelyn Tribole, M.S., RD, is an award-winning dietitian and a former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. In The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet, she provides practical tips and mouthwatering recipes to help you strike the proper balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Inside, you will also find a handy list that shows you the omega-3 and omega-6 content and ratio of more than 900 foods. Weighing in at over 300 pages, this kitchen companion is available through Amazon.