Psoriasis

Want to rid yourself of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is caused by new skin cells being formed too quickly. The cells never mature completely as replication occurs 1000 times as fast as in normal cells. These push up to the skin surface and cause too many cells to crowd into the same space, leading to scaling and redness.

Here are some factors you might need to consider if you would like to establish what might have kicked off the psoriasis and what is keeping it going:

Is your digestion in tip top shape?

Faulty digestion may be a contributing factor in psoriasis. If your stomach is not producing enough hydrochloric acid you will have difficulty absorbing the minerals (eg. calcium, zinc, selenium) needed to normalise the production of skin cells. If you have cholestasis (a sluggish gallbladder) then your secretion of digestive enzymes and bile salts will not be adequate to continue the digestive process. This can lead to poor nutrient absorption and a build up of toxins in the gut that affects the skin.

Do you have enough good gut bacteria?

People with psoriasis usually have low levels of beneficial bacteria in the bowel. Around 1kg of bacteria live in your bowel (small and large intestine). These need to be in balance, with not too many disease-causing bacteria. There is a strong link between proliferation of streptococcal species (a “bad” bacteria) and psoriasis1 2. Overgrowth of bad bacteria produce toxins, including polyamines, which contribute to psoriasis by inhibiting the production of cyclic AMP.

Certain medications especially antibiotics, steroids and the oral contraceptive pill can upset the balance of bacteria in the bowel. People who were not breast-fed will also have abnormal gut bacteria. If pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria proliferate, these will negatively affect the skin because of the accumulation of toxins in the bowel and bloodstream. Refined food products (eg. sugar, white rice, white flour, alcohol) provide fuel for “bad” bacteria

Could you have a food sensitivity?

Allergies and intolerances can play a part in psoriasis. You can find out if this applies to you by doing an elimination/challenge diet for a period of several weeks. You can also do blood testing for allergies (IgE testing) and intolerances (IgG testing). You will need to prepare for IgG testing by eating a wide range of foods for several weeks before the test.

Are you stressed?

Stress is one of the factors implicated in psoriasis.3 4 Stress depletes nutrients needed to control skin cell proliferation and also interferes with the body’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Inflammation is known to play a part in psoriasis5. If your diet contains few foods rich in magnesium and B vitamins then you are likely to feel more stressed6 7 whether or not you are under pressure in your life.

Do you have enough micronutrients?

Most vitamins and minerals are important for skin health but some deficiencies in particular have been linked to psoriasis. In particular if you have an inability to properly utilise calcium due to a vitamin D deficiency this can play a part. Vitamin D itself is important for skin cell regulation and differentiation8. If you have magnesium deficiency or low levels of the B vitamins needed to utilise magnesium then this can also play a part. Eating foods which have been refined reduces the levels of vitamins and minerals circulating in your body 9 10.

Do you have enough essential fats?

Psoriasis sufferers often have low levels of omega 3 and omega 6 oils. This can be due to faulty digestion or to deficiencies in the vitamins and minerals needed to process essential fats. If you have a high intake of refined foods, stimulants or alcohol this can deplete nutrients needed to process essential fats even if your intake of these fats is adequate. This is called a “functional” deficiency. Symptoms that can indicate an essential fat deficiency include dry eyes, excessive thirst, dry skin and poor memory or concentration. Omega 3 is found in oily fish while omega 6 is found in many raw nuts and seeds. Studies show benefits in autoimmune/inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis.11 12

Are you a female beer-drinker?

Beer consumption in women is associated with an increase in the incidence of adult onset psoriasis, according to a study published in 2010 in the Archives of Dermatology. If you are a regular beer drinker, it may be a major contributing factor if you are a woman.

Alcohol can also feed pathogenic organisms in the gut and sometimes even one glass can cause a worsening of symptoms because this can happen quite quickly.

Are your genes getting the right instructions?

Psoriasis often occurs in several members of the same family so genetics may play a part. Did you know that your environment (diet, nutrient status and lifestyle) plays a crucial role in how your genes are expressed (ie whether or not they switch on disease)?13

 


[1] Rantakokko, K., Rimpiläinen M. et al. Antibodies to streptococcal cell wall in psoriatic arthritis and cutaneous psoriasis. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1997 Jul-Aug;15(4):399-404

[2] Cai Y, Lu Z et al. Enhanced proliferation and activation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells in patients with psoriasis vulgaris mediated by streptococcal antigen with bacterial DNA. J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Nov;129:2653-60

[3] Baker, B and Fry, L. The immunology of psoriasis. Brit Jour Dermatol (1992) 126: 1-9

[4] Mazzetti, Mozzetta et al . Psoriasis, stress and psychiatry: psychodynamic characteristics of stressors. Acta Derm Venereol Suppl (Stockh). 1994;186:62-4.

[5] Cooper, Hammerberg et al. Interleukin-1 in Human Skin: Dysregulation in Psoriasis Journal of Investigative Dermatology (1990) 95, 24S–26S; doi:10.1111/1523-1747.ep12505698

[6] Classen HG. Magnesium. Systemic stress, magnesium status and cardiovascular damage. 1986;5(3-4):105-10.

[7] Seelig, MS. Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency on Enhancement of Stress Reactions; Preventive and Therapeutic Implications. Journal- American College of Nutrition

[8] Jörg Reichrath. Vitamin D and the skin: an ancient friend, revisited. Experimental Dermatology. Volume 16, Issue 7, pages 618–625, July 2007

9] Lecomte, E and Herbeth,B. Effect of alcohol consumption on blood antioxidant nutrients and oxidative stress indicators. Am J Clin Nutr August 1994 vol. 60 no. 2 255-261

[10] Bruce, B et al. A Diet High in Whole and Unrefined Foods Favorably Alters Lipids, Antioxidant Defenses, and Colon Function. J Am Coll Nutr Feb 2000 vol. 19 no. 1 61-67

[11] Artemis P. Simopoulos, M. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases. J Am Coll Nutr December 2002 vol. 21 no. 6 495-505

[12] D Spirt S et al (2009). Intervention with flaxseed and borage oil supplements modulates skin condition in women. Br J Nutr 101(3):440-5

[13] Burdgea, G, Hanson, M et al. Epigenetic regulation of transcription: a mechanism for inducing variations in phenotype (fetal programming) by differences in nutrition during early life? British Journal of Nutrition (2007), 97 : pp 1036-1046