Psoriasis & Nutrition
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune non – communicable disease, not transmitted, which manifests as a skin disease and has a negative impact on patients’ daily lives and quality of life.
Its etymological approach has its roots in the ancient Greek word “psoros”, which means scales. It is a disease that is known for hundreds of years.
Frequency of the disease
Millions of people worldwide suffer from psoriasis. It is estimated that 1.5-3% of the population suffers from some form of this disease. Approximately 60 new cases per 100,000 population occur each year. The average age of patients at the first episode of the disease is about 31 years. However, it can occur at any age. 35% of patients report a family history of the disease.
The clinical signs and symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is characterized by erythematous spots, papules and plaques, which are covered with silvery scales. More specifically, the effects of psoriasis begin as red, erythematous papules, which coalesce to form round or oval plaques, clearly detached from the surrounding normal skin.
The causes of psoriasis
Psoriasis is an Autoimmune disease. Nowadays the occurrence of these diseases is a common phenomenon that is increasing rapidly. More and more people are suffering from this kind of diseases and from the unpleasant symptoms which are caused by them. Decreased production or deficiency of enzymes, hormones and other key elements of the body, are the main causes of autoimmune diseases. All these dysfunctions and deficiencies lead to biochemical diversion of cellular mechanisms, and consequently the function of all human cells.
The association of Nutrition with Psoriasis
Nutrition plays an important role in balancing the symptoms of psoriasis. The foods we eat always have an impact on our health. The same goes for psoriasis. This disease often leads the body to protein deficiency, because proteins are lost in the form of dead skin.
This means that foods rich in protein, such as chicken, egg whites, spinach and olive oil, should be included in the daily diet. Furthermore, polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are metabolized to leukotriene B5, which reverses the inflammatory effect of arachidonic acid, thereby reducing overall inflammation. Elevated levels of the above omega-3 fats, which are found mainly in fish oils, reduce the symptoms of psoriasis and significantly reduce inflammation.
Lack of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and folic acid is common in patients with psoriasis. Foods rich in vitamin D and B12, such as seafood, significantly help reduce the symptoms of psoriasis, while folic acid supplementation prevents thrombosis and protects the cardiovascular system of patients with psoriasis.
Substances with anti-oxidant activity, such as selenium, vitamin E and b-carotene can compensate for the oxidative imbalance which is observed in those who suffer from psoriasis. Selenium, in particular, plays an important role in the normal function of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase. Low levels of this have been found in patients with psoriasis.
Also, foods rich in vitamin A, such as carrots and spinach, have beneficial properties in the body of people suffering from this Autoimmune disease, while alcohol abuse has been found to aggravate the symptoms of the disease.
Furthermore, recent data suggest that a gluten-free diet can reduce the unpleasant symptoms of psoriasis. Gluten is found in foods such as rye, barley and wheat. Therefore, avoiding the consumption of such foods significantly helps people with psoriasis.
Finally, a recent scientific study has suggested that the Mediterranean diet can also slow down the progression of psoriasis. This study was conducted as part of the NutriNet-Santé project (an ongoing online questionnaire study, which was launched in France in May 2009), with data that were collected and analyzed between April 2017 and June 2017. Patients with psoriasis were identified through a validated online questionnaire and classified according to the severity of the disease as follows: severe psoriasis, non-severe psoriasis and no psoriasis.
Analytically, among the 35,735 people who answered the psoriasis questionnaire (mean age 47.5 years and 76% women), 3,557 (10%) reported psoriasis and the condition was severe in 878 cases (24.7%) . In addition to data on maximal adherence to the Mediterranean diet, including alcohol consumption, variables such as age, sex, physical activity, body mass index, tobacco use, and history of cardiovascular disease were also considered.
The study concludes that patients with severe psoriasis did not eat Mediterranean products, which reinforces the view that the Mediterranean diet has beneficial effects on patients with this disease. Scientists conclude that adherence to the Mediterranean diet should be included in the daily diet of those suffering from psoriasis.
Therapeutic approaches for Psoriasis
The homeostasis of the body and the metabolic pathways depend on the intake and absorption of food, as well as on toxic compounds that enter our body. However, psoriasis is not only cured by eating the right foods.
Ointments, creams and various lotions which are recommended by dermatologists help significantly in stopping the inflammation. They also remove excess scales and smooth rough skin. Moisturizers are effective in relieving itching.
Also, phototherapy, which is recommended in any case, uses UVA, UVB irradiation to slow down the production of skin cells, directly helps to reduce the symptoms of the disease, while in very severe forms of psoriasis drugs are used in the form of pills. Psoriasis as an Autoimmune disease can be approached, with the help of specialized tests that identify the imbalances that exist in the body and can lead to the disorganization of the immune system and ultimately to the manifestation of the disease.
In this way, it is possible to formulate an individualized treatment regimen, without causing stressful cellular conditions, reaching homeostasis at cellular and hormonal levels and therefore in disease control.
Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive, Anti-ageing and Restorative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).
- Menter A, Gottlieb A, Feldman SR, Van Voorhees AS, Leonardi CL, Gordon KB, et al. (May 2008). “Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: Section 1. Overview of psoriasis and guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis with biologics”. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 58 (5): 826–50. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2008.02.039. PMID 18423260.
- Boehncke WH, Schön MP (September 2015). “Psoriasis”. Lancet. 386 (9997): 983–94. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61909-7. PMID 26025581. S2CID 208793879.
- “Questions and Answers About Psoriasis”. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 12 April 2017. Archived from the original on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
- LeMone P, Burke K, Dwyer T, Levett-Jones T, Moxham L, Reid-Searl K (2015). Medical-Surgical Nursing. Pearson Higher Education AU. p. 454. ISBN 9781486014408.
- Raychaudhuri SK, Maverakis E, Raychaudhuri SP (January 2014). “Diagnosis and classification of psoriasis”. Autoimmunity Reviews. 13 (4–5): 490–5. doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2014.01.008. PMID 24434359.
- Rendon A, Schäkel K (March 2019). “Psoriasis Pathogenesis and Treatment”. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 20 (6): 1475. doi:10.3390/ijms20061475. PMC 6471628. PMID 30909615.
- Weigle N, McBane S (May 2013). “Psoriasis”. American Family Physician. 87 (9): 626–33. PMID 23668525.
- Gudjonsson JE, Elder JT, Goldsmith LA, et al. (2012). “18: Psoriasis”. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (8th ed.). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-166904-7.