Nutrition and Psoriasis Review

To shed light on the relationship between nutrition and psoriasis, in July 2020 Kanda and colleagues published a review of the growing body of research on this topic.

Here’s what they reported.

Nutrition and Psoriasis Links

Kanda and colleagues note that psoriasis is linked to other diet-related conditions, including obesity, diabetes, high blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

They also refer to studies reporting that psoriasis patients tend to have higher intakes of fat and lower intakes of fish and dietary fiber than people who do not have psoriasis.

Nutrition and Psoriasis Promoters

Kanda and colleagues review research into nutrition and psoriasis that reports that the following dietary factors probably promote psoriasis by activating inflammatory pathways and inducing gut dysbiosis:

  • long-chain saturated fatty acids (red meat)
  • heme iron (red meat)
  • refined sugar
  • alcohol

They also refer to some research providing some evidence that omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, supplied primarily by vegetable seed oils and margarine, might promote psoriasis; however, they believe that this evidence is weak at this point. 

Nutrition and Psoriasis Healers

Research into nutrition and psoriasis also reports that that the following dietary factors appear to promote healing of skin in psoriasis:

  • omega-3 fatty acids (flax, hemp, seaweeds)
  • vitamin D (sunlight)
  • vitamin B12 (algae, microbes, supplements)
  • dietary fiber (fruits and vegetables)
  • short-chain fatty acids (butter, dietary fiber)
  • genistein (soy products)
  • selenium (whole grains)
  • probiotics (fermented foods)

Some Nutrition and Psoriasis Research

In this report, Kanda and colleagues review some nutrition and psoriasis research I had not previously come across.  These are some of the things I had not previously known:

  • Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) from colonic flora fermentation of dietary fiber included butyrate, propionate, and acetate.  Butyrate is also the main SCFA in butter (from which butyrate is named).  SCFAs regulate intestinal inflammation and there is some evidence they may also regulate skin inflammation.
  • Feeding animals a diet high in both fat and refined sugar aggravated a psoriasiform dermatitis, but a high-fat, low-sugar diet did not.  The animals that ate high-fat but not high sugar had greater body weight gain but less inflammation. Thus a high fat diet might not exacerbate psoriasis if it is low in refined sugar.  This might explain why I and others have experienced getting some limited psoriasis relief from a low-carbohydrate, high animal fat diet  diet, in spite of reports that long-chain saturated animal fats tend to trigger the inflammation underlying psoriasis.  
  • A Western diet high in both fat and sugar causes gut dysbiosis and a dysregulation of bile acid synthesis with dermatitis as a result.  This dermatitis was reduced by supplementing with a bile acid sequestrant, cholestyramine, or antibiotics, indicating that bile acids and dysbiosis play a role in dermatitis.   High fat diets increase bile acids which may promote growth of bile acid metabolizing bacteria and inhibit growth of bile-sensitive bacteria.  Interestingly, as I have previously discussed, I obtained some significant improvement in my psoriasis condition by taking bile acids or using artichoke extract to promote bile flow, which seems to conflict with the idea of Kanda and colleagues that bile acids are psoriasis promoters.  Bile acids also act as detergents to clear harmful bacteria from the gut.   
  • Fibers and resistant starches have been reported to show systemic and intestinal anti-inflammatory effects.  In particular, the fiber in seaweed, fucoidan, reduced symptoms of psoriasis-like dermatitis in psoriasis model mice.  I regularly consume some seaweed from Maine Seaweed company
  • Soy-sourced genistein suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines and may have anti psoriasis action.  

I was not consuming soy products when I obtained significant improvement in my psoriasis by diet.  However, the study below suggests that either internal or external use of soy could help to relieve the inflammation of psoriasis.  

Kanda Team's Nutrition and Psoriasis Recommendations

Kanda and colleagues propose that people who suffer from psoriasis will benefit from a diet with these characteristics:

  • low in saturated fats, refined simple sugars, red meat, and alcohol
  • sufficient intake of fish/shellfish, soy products, and fiber from fruits and vegetables

Kanda and colleagues also recommend ensuring selenium intake and vitamin D status.  

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