Psoriasis is an immune influenced disease which is caused by inflammation in response to activation of the immune system. It can often be identified through patchy inflammation or lesions on the skin which are created due to a very fast skin cell turnover. Usually the skin cells turnover once every 30-days however, in individuals with psoriasis they can turnover as much as every three days. In such cases, the cells don’t always flake off as they usually would but rather they can build up on the skin which creates the dry scales on the skin surface. This can build up to itchy plaques which are dry and can cause a burning sensation.
Some individuals with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis which can lead to swelling and pain in the joints as well as the skin. The triggers for psoriasis can vary between individuals as can the intensity of the condition too. However, needless to say psoriasis can be a very challenging condition and can impact quality of life.
Much like everything we would never claim nutrition can clear or prevent any condition however, in some cases nutrition may help to reduce the intensity of psoriasis.
Try a gluten-free diet
Gluten intolerance or coeliac disease is a well known contraindication when it comes to psoriasis often the two can come hand in hand. Trying a gluten-free diet is a time and effort investment but very much worth doing if you’re looking to try to reduce the effects of psoriasis. If you are going to be cutting out major food groups in order to consume a gluten free diet then it’s important you don’t avoid key nutrients and ensure that you’re getting lost nutrients from other sources.
As psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, consuming omega-3 rich foods has been found to help reduce the inflammatory symptoms. Where possible aim for 2 portions of oily fish per week and pack in the walnuts, seaweed and flaxseeds in between to top up your sources. It’s recommended to try to get your omega-3 from food sources rather than supplements. Always seek professional advice when you’re supplementing.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These are structural components of cartilage and are often bought as a supplement form together over the counter. As with above, please seek advice when supplementing.
Supplementing with glucosamine and chondroitin may help with psoriasis symptoms as chondroitin can help with cartilage elasticity and may help to reduce the breakdown of cartilage whilst glucosamine can help with cartilage formation. Some studies have found these nutrients to be beneficial in reducing symptoms and inflammation however, many of these studies are conducted on patients with psoriasis and osteoarthritis and therefore further research is required.
Recent evidence has shown that those with psoriasis are more prone to less nutrient dense diets which are higher in fats and refined sugars and lower in fish and fibre. Those foods higher in refined sugars and saturated or trans fats are associated with increased inflammation which can contribute to symptoms. Consuming a diet which is rich in wholefoods, fibre and plenty of omega-3 may help to moderate the symptoms. If you’re struggling with psoriasis and it’s impacting your quality of life please seek personalised advice from your GP.
Möller, I., Pérez, M., Monfort, J., Benito, P., Cuevas, J., Perna, C., ... & Vergés, J. (2010). Effectiveness of chondroitin sulphate in patients with concomitant knee osteoarthritis and psoriasis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Osteoarthritis and cartilage, 18, S32-S40.
Kanda, N., Hoashi, T., & Saeki, H. (2020). Nutrition and psoriasis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(15), 5405.