I don’t write much about psoriasis, although it is not uncommon for me to see these patients in my office. Severe cases can be embarrassing and keep these patients from living a full life.
One thing that I do find surprising, however, is that diet has never been discussed with any of the psoriasis patients I have come across, and they are usually doubtful that dietary changes could have an impact.
Treatment is all topical stuff, and if that doesn’t work, it’s onto the biologicals like Humera, Enbrel and Remicade, high powered and expensive drugs that inhibit the action of an inflammatory keystone in our bodies called TNF-alpha.
The first time I began to see the links was when I saw that being prediabetic, an inflammatory state, led to increases in TNF-alpha levels. Then came these high powered drugs to lower levels of TNF-alpha and you can begin to see the connection. Dietary changes that will pull you back from diabetes are very likely to have an impact on psoriatic plaques. Sure enough, my psoriasis patients all have prediabetic tendencies, making me think the link may be stronger than we think.
Lest those psoriasis patients out there think I’m making all this up, I present this particular study, looking at the addition of a 6-month reduced calorie diet (20 kcal/kg/ideal body weight/day–so someone who should weigh 200 lbs would take in 1800 calories / day) high in omega-3 fatty acids (average 2.6 grams / day) and low in omega-6 fatty acids (a pattern known to be anti-inflammatory) in 44 obese patients with mild-to-severe plaque-type psoriasis who were already being treated with immuno-suppressive drugs. Here’s what they found:
- Psoriasis Area Score Index, itch scores and Dermatological Life Quality Index all improved.
- In addition, there was also a decrease in body weight, waist circumference, triglycerides and total cholesterol.
Overall, in just 6 short months, there were changes all across the board in these psoriasis patients from increasing their intake of healthier fats and decreasing the intake of less desirable, omega-6 fats. Given how much of an impact a skin condition like psoriasis can social life, this seems like a pretty good thing.