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There will come a stage when you consider implementing a psoriasis diet treatment plan, and rightly so! It is one of the most underused options for keeping your psoriasis under control. Below I have created a detailed roundup of the most widely known diets that are targeted to psoriasis sufferers. These diets are as follows;
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- John Pagano Diet
- Modified Paleo Diet for Psoriasis
- My very own Smart Psoriasis Diet Plan
Firstly let me introduce psoriasis and what we currently know about the disease. Knowing this helps us understand why psoriasis-friendly diets are so beneficial for us psoriasis sufferers.
What is Psoriasis
The uncomfortable skin condition known as “psoriasis” occurs when the skin cells are growing too quickly. It is a chronic condition that causes patches of skin to become thick, and those patches are usually red, white or silver in color. Most often, psoriasis occurs on the scalp, feet, hands, knees, elbows or lower back.
Psoriasis falls within the category of autoimmune diseases. When a person has an autoimmune disease, their body is essentially attacking itself. Although the cause of autoimmune diseases has yet to be discovered, it is suspected that they may be due to environmental factors, genetic factors, or a combination of the two.
To explain in a little more detail: it is necessary for the immune system to be in balance in order for it to work correctly. There are two types of cells that work against foreign invaders: T-helper 1 cells (TH1) which fight against cancer and viruses, and T-helper 2 cells (Th2) which fight against bacteria. Typically, there is a good balance between Th1 and Th2 cells within the body. But, if a person has an autoimmune disease, then the ratio of Th1 and Th2 cells is changed.
Most autoimmune diseases are associated with inflammation, which causes problems within the body. The inflammation is caused by “cytokines,” which is a protein substance made by the Th1 and Th2 cells. These proteins are important for immunity, they respond to infection or injury by creating inflammation to help with healing. If cytokines are overproduced, then a specific part of the body may be chronically inflamed.
Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, it has been found that cytokines can affect the severity of the psoriasis symptoms. Increased inflammation means that the symptoms will worsen, decreased inflammation means that the symptoms will decrease. Luckily, it has been found that cytokine production can be adjusted through nutrition.
Even though psoriasis may seem like a simple skin condition, there are actual correlations with other health concerns that often accompany psoriasis. It has been found that if a person suffers from psoriasis, then they are more likely to experience anxiety, anger, and depression. Many people with psoriasis feel as though their quality of life is decreased, and they have lower confidence and self-esteem.
What the Doctors Say
Scientifically speaking, there is no specific evidence that has proved a diet change will reduce or eliminate the symptoms of psoriasis. But, even though there is not a documented research study showing the connection between nutrition and psoriasis, many people have reported that they experience a reduction in flare-ups when they changed their diet.
The diet that is suggested is based on common, healthy dietary advice which is good to follow regardless of whether a person has psoriasis or not. So, there is not harm in following the diet guidelines to see if it has a positive impact on your psoriasis symptoms.
The diet advice offered for psoriasis is standard diet advice: reduce junk food, alcohol, and sugar consumption, and at the same time increase healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Overall, it is as simple as following a healthy, balanced diet.
It is a good idea to keep track of your food consumption and make note of the foods that cause your flare-ups to worsen. Remember that each person is unique, which means that you may have certain foods that cause your skin condition to worsen which may not a be a problem for someone else.
You should be very sceptical if you see a diet that makes extreme claims such as a “cure” for psoriasis. Some of them suggest unhealthy practices such as following an unbalanced meal plan, taking high doses of supplements, or extended periods of fasting. These things can be potentially dangerous and should be avoided. Instead, use your common sense to create a healthier lifestyle.
Comparisons of the Most Common Psoriasis Diet Plans
There are three diet plans commonly suggested for psoriasis, and this section will share details about each of those plans so that you can make a decision for yourself:
Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, and inflammation is a big problem with autoimmune diseases, then logically it makes sense that an anti-inflammatory diet might be beneficial to reduce psoriasis symptoms. Remember that inflammation is caused by cytokine production, and your diet has a strong impact on suppressing or activating cytokine production.
Each food choice that you make will have an impact on the cytokine production within your body– which means that every food choice affects inflammation. Some types of foods will signal the immune system to produce more cytokines, which may cause an increase the psoriasis symptoms.
These are the foods that should be avoided if you are following the anti-inflammation diet:
- Meat: As a general rule, meat consumption should be reduced because eating meat increases cytokines. Red meat should especially be avoided, as well as grilled or charbroiled meats. It is also best to avoid processed meats such as cold cuts, spiced meats, sausages, or anything else that comes processed in a package. The exception to the rule is fish, which should be eaten sparingly.
- Fish: Even though fish can help to decrease cytokine levels, but the problem with fish consumption is the mercury. So, only buy high-quality fish from good sources, and limit your intake to 4-ounce servings twice a week. You may also consider taking fish oil supplements instead, but be sure the supplements are free of mercury.
- Egg Yolk: Both meat and egg yolk contain arachidonic acid, which is the substance that causes inflammation and increased cytokines. If you choose to eat eggs, separate them and only eat the egg whites.
- Nightshade Vegetables: Even though most vegetables help to reduce inflammation, nightshade vegetables may actually increase inflammation for some people. These vegetables include eggplants, tomatoes, tobacco, potatoes, peppers, and cherries. Try eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks, and then slowly introduce them again to see how your psoriasis symptoms respond.
- Dairy: Milk and dairy products cause autoimmune symptoms to worsen because they increase cytokine production. Milk and dairy products should be avoided.
- Junk Food: We know that we shouldn’t be eating junk food, but sometimes it is hard to avoid because it is so easily available. The problem is that junk food and processed foods affects cytokine levels and causes increased inflammation. Foods to avoid include doughnuts, cookies, cereal, bread, muffins, cake, crackers, chips, etc.
- Coffee: When a person consumes coffee, their insulin and blood sugar levels are raised. Increased insulin product results in increased cytokine production, so coffee can lead to inflammation.
- Sugar: Similar to coffee, sugar causes the insulin to spike which can impact cytokine production. When sugar is consumed, it suppresses the immune system and leaves the body more vulnerable to infection.
- White Flour: When wheat is processed into white flour, it contains a substance called alloxan. This substance is harmful to insulin production in the pancreas and can cause insulin spikes in the body similar to the effects of sugar.
- Gluten: Grains that contain gluten may cause an increase in inflammation, especially because it is common for people with psoriasis to be allergic to gluten. Try cutting out gluten and then slowly add it back into your diet to see how your psoriasis symptoms respond.
- Corn By-Products: Corn consumption can increase cytokine production, and it can be tricky to avoid because of all of the corn byproducts that are added to modern day foods. Look at the food labels and avoid anything with fructose, corn syrup, corn oil, corn meal, or anything else that comes from corn.
- Alcohol: Studies have shown that alcohol consumption can increase psoriasis symptoms, most likely because it contains aldehyde. This toxic substance can increase inflammation levels, and alcohol can also affect insulin levels.
- Condiments and Spices: Remember that many condiments contain sugar and corn by-products and should be avoided. Also, certain spices cause inflammation. Avoid vinegar, wine, gravy, hot sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, paprika, mustard, nutmeg, lemon peel, curry, cumin, cinnamon, anise, cloves, and pepper.
Even though the list of foods to avoid seems quite lengthy, there are plenty of foods that you can enjoy. These foods are high in nutrition and they have anti-inflammatory properties, so you can eat them in abundance:
- Vegetables: Leafy greens, beans, artichokes, spinach, summer squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, turnips, zucchini, and cabbage, just to name a few. These vegetables help to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
- Foods with Beta Carotene: It has been found that people who eat foods high in beta-carotene are less likely to experience psoriasis. Those foods include carrots, leafy greens, mangoes, and apricots.
- Lean Meats: Even though red and processed meats should be avoided, you can still enjoy limited amounts of fish and skinless chicken. Only buy high-quality meats, and limit consumption to twice a week.
- Whole Grains: When whole grains are consumed, they provide the body with flavonoids which can be beneficial to boost the immune system. Look for gluten-free grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa.
- Nuts and Seeds: Omega- fatty acids can be gained by eating flax seed, which doesn’t contain the mercury that is often present in oily fish. High levels of essential fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, but the nut and seed consumption should be limited to one ounce per day. Most nuts are beneficial, except peanuts, pecans, walnuts, and Brazil nuts.
- Fresh Fruit: When buying fruit, make sure to get organic fruit in order to avoid chemical pesticides, because those toxins can cause inflammation. Also, eat fresh fruit instead of canned fruit, which usually has added sugar. Some people with psoriasis do better if they avoid citrus fruits such as orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Try eliminating citrus fruits from your diet for a few weeks to see how your symptoms respond.
- Digestive Enzymes: Even though they aren’t a type of food, it’s a good idea to consume digestive enzymes each day. They are supplements that can help with food digestion and can be beneficial, especially for people with psoriasis. It has been found that people with psoriasis often experience decreased levels of stomach acid, which has a negative effect on food digestion.
You may feel overwhelmed by these food suggestions, especially if it is a drastic change from your current diet. Keep in mind that you don’t have to make all of the changes at once, start out with baby steps to slowly decrease the foods that should be avoided and increase the foods that you should be eating.
John Pagano Diet
The John Pagano diet starts out with a 3-day cleanse, and then a drastic diet change to an alkaline diet. To start out, within the first 3 days you can eat as many apples as you would like. Or, if apples cause sensitivities, then try low acid fruits such as grapes. During this time, you may consider using a professional colon cleansing service, but it is fine if you don’t do the colon cleansing.
After the first 3 days, begin following these eating guidelines. The idea is that you should eat the suggested foods at least 80% of the time, and the limited foods less than 20% of the time. If a food says that it should be avoided, then it is best to completely eliminate it if possible:
- Eat unlimited amounts of alkaline foods such as leafy greens, vegetables, and fresh fruit. It is best to eat these foods raw or with minimal cooking. Avoid canned foods.
- Even though most vegetables can be consumed, avoid nightshade vegetables including tomatoes, bell peppers, paprika, eggplant, and tobacco.
- Drink fresh fruit juices, including celery and carrot juice every day. They must be fresh juice, and not processed juices from the grocery store.
- Eliminate red meat and processed meats, but it is ok to eat 4-ounce portions of fish and poultry. Avoid shellfish and dark fish. When preparing the meat, focus on low-fat cooking options such as baking, broiling or poaching.
- Dairy should only be consumed in small quantities. Limit cheese, yoghurt, butter, eggs, and milk.
- Avoid deep fried foods or anything cooked in a lot of oil, such as fast food or breaded and fried foods. It is ok to consume unheated olive oil, and it is great to add to salads and other foods.
- Whole grains can be consumed in moderate quantities and should be limited to less than 20% of your diet. Eat whole grain bread, brown rice, pasta, etc. Avoid anything with white flour such as white bread, white pasta, breakfast cereals, etc.
- Don’t drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda. It is best to avoid decaf coffee if possible, but it may be consumed up to three times per day if needed.
- Drink plenty of water. 6 – 8 glasses of water per day is suggested, and be sure that it is a pure source of water.
- Drink herbal tea, especially slippery elm bark tea in the morning and saffron tea in the evening. Herbal teas can be beneficial to help with digestion and cleansing.
Keep in mind that if you are allergic to any of the foods listed, then it is important to eliminate those foods even if they are allowed on the diet. Also, results vary from one person to the next. Some people experience almost immediate results when they change their diet, but other people don’t see results for a few weeks or even a few months.
A “cleansing reaction” may happen when you change your diet, which might cause the symptoms to worsen before they get better. Give your body time to get rid of the toxins and allow it to heal. Also, remember that this is a life-long change in habit, if you choose to go back to an unhealthy way of eating, then it is likely that your psoriasis will begin to worsen again.
Paleo Diet & Modified Paleo Diet for Psoriasis
The Paleo diet has become more popular in recent years, especially for people with autoimmune diseases. It is common for people to experience relief from psoriasis symptoms when they are following Palaeolithic nutrition because this diet can help to heal gut irritation, reduce inflammation and balance insulin levels.
A general Paleo diet plan includes:
- Foods to eat include an abundance of whole foods, such as fish, poultry, eggs, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruit.
- Foods to avoid include legumes, refined sugar, grains, vegetable oils, processed foods, and dairy. Limited amounts of dairy can be consumed in the form of a heavy cream, ghee, and high-quality butter.
These eating guidelines help you to avoid too many carbohydrates, high levels of salt and sugar, all of which can cause inflammation within the body. The premise of the Paleo diet is that we are returning to the roots of nutrition, which are the types of foods that the human body used to evolve to optimal health. In our modern world, the processed foods have lead to modern diseases which are often autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis.
Changing your diet can change your susceptibility to these modern day diseases and allow you to return to the good health that hunter-gatherers experienced. There is quite a bit of scientific research that suggests that this diet may help to balance hormones, improve gut health and decrease inflammation. The goal is to restore the body to balance.
Modified Paleo Diet For Psoriasis (also known as the Autoimmune Protocol)
If you are following the Paleo diet for psoriasis, then there are a few more steps that need to be followed. In addition to the guidelines listed above, it is VERY IMPORTANT to
- avoid dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, caffeine, alcohol, and nightshade vegetables (including peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants)
It is essential that you consume quality food, therefore, follow these guidelines;
- Buy organic as much as possible, and eat wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat
- Consider incorporating organ meat into your meal plan at least twice a week, such as bone broth, stew hens, gelatin, and heart meat
- Also, fermented foods are very food for gut health, including coconut milk kefir and raw sauerkraut
- You may also consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement, which has been found to help psoriasis symptoms in some people when used on a regular basis.
For some people, immediate relief is experienced, but other people don’t notice a difference for a few weeks. So, give it a little bit of time to see how your body reacts. Be strict about following these guidelines, because “cheating” on the diet can cause an immediate increase of inflammation in the body and result in a psoriasis flare-up. If you keep a food journal, you will likely notice that cheating almost always leads to increased psoriasis symptoms.
Smart Psoriasis Diet Plan
This is the plan that I follow to keep my psoriasis under control. I figured out my smart psoriasis diet plan through long hours researching and lots of trial and error. The aim of my plan was to find the most effective way to gain control of my psoriasis with the least amount of effort required.#
I found limitations with the previously mentioned psoriasis diet plans;
- The anti-inflammatory diet alone will not reduce your psoriasis to an adequate level (less than 5% psoriasis) in my opinion and it requires a shift in your mindset along with changes to your lifestyle in general
- The John Pagano diet is too strict and if the wrong ratio of fruit to vegetables eaten, it can cause serious consequences. Pagano understated the damage that can be caused by eating too much of nature’s sugar, therefore mind your intake of fresh fruit
- The John Pagano diet strongly recommended undertaking colonic irrigations, even home enemas which I found too intrusive. There are other just as good, albeit slower but less intrusive ways to cleanse your colon
- John Pagano diet plan also stipulated that you should visit your chiropractor to fix any back alignment issues – this is pretty biased as he is a chiropractor by trade and I’m still unsure of the connection between your back and your psoriasis if any
- The modified paleo diet fails to understand the need to have a detox period when trying to get your skin under control – this should be the first step in healing your porous digestive tract
- The modified paleo diet, as well as the anti – inflammatory diets, are lacking in suggestions to treat your psoriasis on a topical level while you wait for the benefits of their diets to come about – Psoriasis can be incredibly sore not to mention unsightly, so we require ointments, creams and lotions that can reduce the pain, scale and redness in appearance.
So how does the Smart Psoriasis Diet Plan differ from the above
I compared all the diets, some I had tried in years gone by, others I had just researched. They all work to a certain extent but as mentioned above, there were limitations that meant I was never fully able to get to 5% psoriasis coverage or less. There was never a stage in my life where I was happy to run out of a steroid cream without rushing to the pharmacy to refill. Therefore I decided to think logically about the disease.
One quote I read always stuck in my mind “Psoriasis cannot live in a healthy body”. I also remembered back to the time my psoriasis improved drastically in 5 days when I was on an IV drip in hospital and other events in my life when my psoriasis mysteriously got better (documented here in my psoriasis winning trifecta blog post).
Therefore I tried to mix and match all the good parts of the above-mentioned psoriasis diet treatment plans
- I agreed with Pagano that a detox was vital to success, but I preferred the less intrusive kind which took a bit longer
- The anti – inflammatory diet made sense to me but I combined all three food plans to come up with the foods to eat and foods to avoid list that suited me best
- Through researching the Paleo diet, I recognized that modern day living has caused a massive imbalance in our nutritional intake which we can thankfully easily rectify by taking these essential supplements for psoriasis
- The one aspect that all 3 diet plans avoided was the vital importance of stress management that can go a long way in avoiding flare-ups and keeping your skin under control at all times. I understood the harmful mental effects of psoriasis and introduced simple measures to counteract them.
- I trialled out lots of natural ointments to reduce scaling and soreness caused by plaque psoriasis and finally found something that I can use daily that is 100% natural and won’t thin my skin like those dangerous steroid creams
In the end I created the ultimate 8 step guide to controlling your psoriasis. It is a 34 page eBook (3rd edition) that will change the way you think about diets and supplements. It is working for me but I do understand everyone is different so I also recommend keeping a food journal. In your food journal keep track of your food intake as well as the severity of your psoriasis symptoms. This is one of the best ways to understand how your body reacts to various types of food.
Also, stick with it…. changing your diet for 1 or 2 days won’t be enough to notice a difference. You need to give your body time to heal and repair, and some people may not notice much of a difference for a few weeks. Be patient and stick with whichever one of the above diets you try for at least 6 weeks. It will improve not only your skin but your overall health in general.
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Referenceshttp://voices.yahoo.com/can-psoriasis-controlled-through-diet-195093.html?cat=70 http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis-8/diet http://www.everydayhealth.com/psoriasis-photos/foods-that-affect-psoriasis.aspx#/slide-1 http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/alternative/diet-supplements http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03161/Psoriasis.html http://pinch.com/skin/docs/pagano.txt http://www.thepaleomom.com/2011/11/so-what-exactly-is-paleolithic.html http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/modifying-paleo-to-treat-psoriasis.html
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I have reduced my psoriasis by 95% through changes to my diet and introducing supplements to ensure my body is in its optimal condition. This enables me to control my psoriasis for good. I hope you can too by following my free eBook – The Smart Psoriasis Diet Plan.