The link between diet and psoriasis

 Photo @remedydrinks

Photo @remedydrinks

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that presents as clearly defined, red and scaly patches on the skin. It occurs when the life cycle of skin cells accelerate too quickly, building up on the surface of the skin. This condition is often painful and very itchy for sufferers. What causes psoriasis is multi-factorial but it is classified as an inflammatory auto-immune disease.

As psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, lifestyle and dietary choices can have a direct impact of the symptoms experienced with the condition.

There are many factors that can aggravate psoriasis; they tend to be inflammatory in nature. Triggers include stress, smoking, excessive alcohol, lack of sleep, obesity and some medications.  It is beneficial to limit these triggers through lifestyle choices and to reduce or avoid them where you can.  

An important (and easy) way we can reduce inflammation in our body is through diet. It stands to reason that opting for an anti-inflammatory diet will reduce internal inflammation in the body. In fact there are entire diets dedicated to just this.

Consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory properties can prevent excessive inflammation and quench free radicals. Options include:

  • Healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 found in oily fish like salmon, avocado, chia seeds and coconut

  • Antioxidant rich foods such as berries and dark leafy greens (to help manage inflammation and balance stress hormones)

When considering our immune system, gut health is one of the most essential elements in our defence against the outside world. It houses 80% of our immune system and it is also in charge of absorbing nutrients. Therefore when managing chronic autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis, it is imperative that we focus on maximising our gut health.

Increasing the beneficial flora in our gut is an important step to improve immunity and is achieved by consuming probiotic foods that contain live bacteria. The best options are:

  • Yoghurt (pot set, no added sugar/fruit) – homemade is best!

  • Kefir/Kombucha

  • Sauerkraut (and other fermented veg), Kimchi

  • Miso and Tempeh

We also know that increasing prebiotics in our diet will help live bacteria flourish. This will enhance gut health and support the immune system. These foods include:

  • Garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, globe artichokes

  • Legumes, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, fresh beans, beetroot, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, LSA mix

  • Dark Chocolate >70%, almonds, green tea, carrots 

Other recommended food choices include those rich in vitamin C, garlic, ginger, turmeric, onions, bone broth, healthy fats such as avocado as well as foods rich in zinc such as oysters, grass-fed beef & lamb, sesame seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), cashews, lentils, beans, mushrooms.  

It is important that those suffering with psoriasis seek appropriate medical consultation by a good Dermatologist. There are many treatment options available which may include diet, prescription medication and/or topical treatments. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment plan for you.