Nutrition And Disease: Psoriasis

I’d never known anyone who had psoriasis (well, who spoke openly about it) but my mum was diagnosed with it last January. Then a friend mentioned this tv show she’d watched in the UK called Food Hospital and they talk about how the diet can exacerbate or reduce symptoms of certain diseases. So I decided to check the website out, and it was quite interesting!!

For those of you who don’t know, psoriasis is a autoimmune condition which typically affects the skin. The most common type is called “plaque psoriasis” where skin accumulates and causes scaly, itchy patches. However it can also affect the nails, giving a pitted appearance that some might mistake for a nail infection. In 10-30% of those with psoriasis, they also develop psoriatic arthritis which doesn’t sound too pleasant!

The intake of omega-3 can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis due to its anti-inflammatory nature. It’s found in oily fish, flax seed, walnuts, and some green veg such as brussel sprouts, kale and spinach. They are also available as supplements (take those containing EPA/DHA at 500mg per day) if you don’t think you will get enough from your diet, however it is preferred to get your omega-3 from whole foods.The average western diet has an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 10:1 respectively, whereas ideally it should be 1:1. However studies have shown that ratios as low as 4:1 have been beneficial. Too much omega-6 is actually detrimental to the healthy benefits of omega-3. The higher ratios found in western diets actually shifts the bodys’ physiological state towards inflammation of the tissues. This is not good!

How to lower your omega-6 and increase your omega-3 intake:

  • Avoid soybean, palm, rapeseed and sunflower oil – it is preffered that you get your oils from things such as coconuts, olives (which shouldn’t be heated), hempseed, flaxseed , avocados, macadamias and walnuts. This is a good article on cooking oils, with omega-3:omega-6 ratios and smokepoints.
  • Farmed salmon contains high levels of omega-6, as well as cancer-causing PCBs, antibiotics and pesticides. This is due to the diet they are fed, which is other fish – toxins will accumulate in a lot of marine life but when eaten by us the levels are relatively low. However for fish food, they are concentrated down which builds up the toxins. Farmed salmon will eat far more “fish” than those in the wild will. Also, farmed salmon are fed pink dye to make their flesh more appealing, as without it the flesh would be grey. YUMMY! So if you do like salmon, try to get wild salmon. Yes it’s a little bit more expensive, so you might not eat as much of it, but it’s so much better for your health. Wild Alaskin canned salmon is also good. If you’re not too fussed about eating salmon, there are loads of other oily fish such as Atlantic mackeral, sardines, US/Canada Albarcore tuna, and Alaskan/Canadian sablefish/black cod.
  • Meat and Poultry that are grain fed will contain higher levels of omega-6 than those that are grass fed. This means that the eggs from those poultry will also contain higher amounts. When possibly, try to buy free range grass fed meat, poultry and eggs (or you can buy the ones that advertise EPA/DHA on them, not just ALA). A problem with this is the expense as it is much cheaper to produce meat from cattle that is not free range or grass fed. But, if you can make allowances in your budget for it, I definitely recommend it. Try going to farmers markets or local farms where it will more likely be cheaper than buying at the supermarket.
  • Processed food, salad dressing, mayonnaise and margerine will almost always have those horrible oils in them, so always check the labels! Try making your own salad dressings and mayonnaise using the above mentioned “good” oils, and replace margerine with butter. Yes, butter is saturated fat. But it’s natural. Margerine is made from oils that should be liquid at room temp, not solid. It’s worse for you than butter!

Foods from the nightshade family such as tomatoes, aubergines, white potatoes, cherries and all types of pepper may worsen your symptoms, but it would be best to cut these out from your diet for a few weeks to see if there is any difference. Some articles or posts I have read from other psoriasis sufferers have said that cutting dairy out their diets has helped – I don’t know the reason for this but it wouldn’t hurt to try it out.

Hope you’ve found the post informative 🙂

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