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Why Sugar is Bad for Psoriasis Sufferers


A diet that is high in refined sugar is bad for anyone, but it might be particularly bad for people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis for a number of reasons. For example, a high intake of sugar promotes inflammation and excess body weight, both of which have been associated with psoriasis. There is also evidence that sugar can cause leptin resistance, an obesity-related condition that may also be independently associated with psoriasis. To get the details, keep reading.

The Link Between Sugar, Excess Body Weight and Psoriasis

Diets high in sugar (particularly those high in sugar-sweetened drinks) have been associated with weight gain and high levels of body fat (1, 2). This is relevant to the discussion at hand because obesity and excess body weight have been linked to psoriasis, and research suggests that losing weight may help combat psoriasis. These observations should come as no surprise, given that psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, and high levels of body fat have been shown to promote the release of pro-inflammatory hormones (3, 4, 5).

Sugar Also Promotes Leptin Resistance, a Condition Linked to Psoriasis

Leptin resistance, or the body's inability to respond to the appetite-regulating hormone lectin, develops when the body is continuously exposed to high levels of lectin. Numerous studies have linked leptin resistance with a high body mass index, but there is also evidence suggesting that leptin resistance may be independently associated with psoriasis (6).

There are tons of ways to reverse leptin resistance naturally, including eating foods that increase leptin sensitivity. But one of the perhaps best ways is to cut down on sugar, particularly fructose, in your diet. A study from the University of Florida found that a high-fat diet without the presence of sugar caused neither leptin resistance nor obesity in laboratory rats, but when fructose was added to the high-fat diet, the rats became leptin resistant and gained a significant amount of weight. Moreover, removal of fructose from the diet put the brakes on weight gain and initiated a natural reversal of leptin resistance. (7)

1. A. Drewnowski and F. Bellisle (2007). Liquid calories, sugar, and body weight. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85, 651-661 (2007).
2. V. Malik, M. Schulze, and F. Hu (2006). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 84, 274-288.
3. L. Fontana et al (2007). Visceral Fat Adipokine Secretion Is Associated With Systemic Inflammation in Obese Humans. Diabetes 56, 1010-1013.
4. E. Hamminga et al (2006). Chronic inflammation in psoriasis and obesity: implications for therapy. Med. Hypotheses, 67, 768-73.
5. M. di Minno et al (2013). Obesity and the prediction of minimal disease activity: a prospective study in psoriatic arthritis. Arthritis Care Res, 65, 141-7.
6. Y. Chen et al (2008). Psoriasis independently associated with hyperleptinemia contributing to metabolic syndrome. Archives of Dermatology, 144(12):1571-5.
7. A. Shapiro et al (2011). Prevention and reversal of diet-induced leptin resistance with a sugar-free diet despite high fat content. British Journal of Nutrition, 106(3), 390-397.

Useful Resources

Healing Psoriasis Diet Book Dr. John Pagano has gained international fame with his ground-breaking book, Healing Psoriasis, which has been translated into numerous languages. In this compelling book, Dr. Pagano presents an all-natural regimen designed to alleviate and heal psoriasis without steroid creams, tar baths, injections, or ultraviolet treatments. Packed with invaluable diet and lifestyle tips, recipes, case studies, and before-and-after photos, Healing Psoriasis is a great resource for anyone interested in a drug-free treatment for psoriasis. Available from and

Online FREE
Make it a habit to visit's online Guide to Healing Psoriasis on a regular basis. Updated once a week, the sidebar on the home page of the guide contains tons of links to interesting nutrition-related articles hand-picked for psoriasis sufferers. It also contains a weekly smoothie recipe featuring ingredients with psoriasis-fighting potential, as well as a book tip.