The Impact of Diet on Psoriasis: A Summary of Recent Research

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. It affects around 2% of people worldwide. While there is no cure for psoriasis, it can be managed through treatments like phototherapy, medications, and lifestyle changes. An emerging area of research is examining how diet may impact psoriasis symptoms. This article summarizes recent studies exploring the connections between diet, weight loss, and psoriasis.

The Potential of Weight Loss Diets

Several recent studies have explored whether weight loss diets like low-calorie or ketogenic diets may improve psoriasis in overweight patients.

Case Study of a Ketogenic Diet

In one case study, a 40-year old woman with severe psoriasis followed a very low calorie ketogenic diet. This was initially intended to help restore her response to the psoriasis medication adalimumab. However, the diet alone resulted in significant improvements in her psoriasis symptoms and Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) scores.

Other studies by the same group of researchers showed aggressive low-calorie ketogenic diets greatly reduced weight and PASI scores in overweight and obese psoriasis patients.

Overall, these studies show promising results that weight loss from low-calorie diets can improve psoriasis, especially in those who are overweight. However, more research is still needed. As one recent review summarizes, “dietary changes alone do not cause a large effect in psoriasis but may become an important adjunct to current first line treatments.”

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet pattern emphasizes plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and olive oil. Several studies have found benefits of a Mediterranean style diet for psoriasis.

One study found higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was correlated with lower psoriasis severity and inflammation. The key components that showed benefits were olive oil, fruits and vegetables, likely due to their high antioxidant content. Antioxidants may help dampen the inflammatory pathways involved in psoriasis.

Overall, research indicates that diets high in plant-based foods and antioxidants, like the Mediterranean diet, may be helpful as part of a psoriasis management plan.

The Effects of Fasting

Intermittent fasting diets have surged in popularity for weight loss. Fasting may also impact inflammation pathways relevant to psoriasis.

One research area has examined the impact of Ramadan fasting in Muslim patients. During Ramadan, people fast from dawn until sunset for one month. Studies have found significant improvements in PASI scores and psoriasis severity among psoriasis patients after Ramadan fasting. However, concomitant psoriasis treatments may also play a role in these improvements.

A Study on Intermittent Fasting

One small pilot study by researchers in Belgium evaluated a form of intermittent fasting in psoriasis patients. One group of patients followed a restricted 500 calorie diet for two days per week, while eating normally the other days.

After 12 weeks, the fasting group showed significant improvements in PASI scores, scaling, thickness and redness of lesions. Participants also reported improvements in itch severity while fasting. The fasting group lost more weight than the control group.

While results are preliminary, they suggest intermittent fasting may hold promise for improving psoriasis. Larger studies are still needed to confirm effects.

The Question of Gluten

Some research has investigated gluten-free diets for psoriasis management. This is based on observed connections between psoriasis and celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

One study found following a gluten-free diet for 3 months improved molecular inflammatory markers in the skin of psoriasis patients. Additional small studies have suggested improvements in subsets of patients on gluten-free diets.

Conclusion: dietary changes and psoriasis

While dietary changes alone cannot cure psoriasis, emerging research suggests diet may play an important supporting role in managing symptoms. Areas of promise include weight loss diets, intermittent fasting, anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet, and gluten-free diets for those with gluten sensitivity.

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