psoriasis and diet

Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disorder, affecting 1-2 per cent of the population. In psoriasis, skin cells multiply too rapidly in response to a faulty signal from the immune system and produce scaly patches on the skin's surface. It is sometimes confused with eczema. Many people feel there is a link between diet and psoriasis. There have been a number of scientific studies, but there is not yet enough information to recommend any specific diet for psoriasis. However, there are a number of pointers that may help you devise your own psoriasis diet and better control your skin irritation.

  • Make it heart healthy. Did you know that people with psoriasis are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes? Also, people who are obese tend to suffer from worse psoriasis than those of healthy weight. Therefore, watch your calorie intake and follow heart healthy guidelines, such as cutting saturated fat and eliminating trans fats. This approach will have the added benefit of improving your general health.
  • Try an anti-inflammatory diet. A psoriasis diet should be one that tackles the underlying inflammation. Therefore try to:
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Switch to whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates
  • Eat lean protein and cut back on red meat and full-fat dairy
  • Avoid refined and processed foods

Some people with psoriasis have found a vegetarian and/or gluten-free diet helpful in managing their condition. There are many gluten-free products around now, so both options are easy enough to try.

  • Supplements may help. There have been various studies into how supplementation may help in the psoriasis diet. Many people have low levels of vitamin D (you may be able to get your doctor to check this by a simple blood test) and this has been linked to a number of conditions, including psoriasis. Taking a simple vitamin D3 supplement may help. Other studies have shown benefits from taking vitamin B12 supplements. Similarly, there is some evidence that fish oil supplementation helps with the management of psoriasis. It is the polyunsaturated (omega-3) fatty acids in fish oils which are the active ingredient here. Alternatively, you could just try adding more oily fish like salmon, trout, tuna or even 'omega-3' fish fingers to your diet. More unusual supplements that have been tried in the psoriasis diet include: milk thistle, evening primrose oil, turmeric and oregano oil.

If you plan to give your diet a major overhaul to help manage psoriasis, it is worth consulting your doctor or a registered dietitian for advice. Similarly, if you plan to add in supplements or herbal remedies, let your doctor or dermatologist know, as these may interact with your psoriasis medication, making it less effective or producing unwanted side effects. Remember, the research on diet and psoriasis is incomplete – much more needs to be done. So be aware of any supplements offering to 'cure' the condition.