Manage Your Psoriasis with Diet & Herbs
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to multiply as much as ten times their normal rate. Skin cells continue to shed at the normal rate, however, which results in a buildup of dead skills cells that appear as patches of dry, itchy, red skin with white or silvery scales. Unfortunately, there is no certain cure for psoriasis, although many people experience periods of remission with light therapy, as well as lifestyle and dietary modifications.
In terms of diet, it’s especially important to avoid foods that promote inflammation, such as refined sugars and flours (i.e., white bread and sugar), dairy products, soft drinks (sugar!), fried foods and red meat. Animal products are particularly problematic because they are an abundant source of arachidonic acid, a type of fat that’s converted into all sorts of inflammatory products in the body by an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. (This is why anti-inflammatory medications are referred to as COX-inhibitors.) Refined sugar promotes glycosylation, a process that can be described as rogue sugar molecules hijacking healthy cells while waving a red flag that immune system cells read as a target for destruction.
Not all Veggies are Alike
An anti-inflammatory diet is high in vegetables, especially the green, leafy variety. These foods not only help to eliminate inflammation but they also provide antioxidants. But … for some people, vegetables in the nightshade family may contribute to inflammation flare ups. Although this theory has not been clinically evaluated, it is speculated that the phytochemical solanine may be the culprit. If you suspect this might be the case for you, try eliminating these vegetables from your diet for two weeks to see if there’s any improvement. Members of the nightshade family include eggplant, tomato, potato and peppers.
Fish oil, either in supplement form or from including wild salmon in the diet, helps to regulate inflammation because it supplies omega 3 fats that compete with arachidonic acid for cyclooxygenase and other key enzymes involved in immune response. To enhance absorption, take fish oil supplements with meals.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which blocks the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase. As an added bonus, turmeric provides more antioxidant value than vitamin E.
Green Tea contains a group of polyphenols collectively referred to as catechins. There are six categories of catechins, but the considered most active and best studied is apigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG. Studies consistently show that green tea provides anti-inflammatory benefits, especially in the stomach and liver.
Ginger contains phenol compounds called gingerols and shogaols that appear to have an impact on multiple inflammatory pathways. Of particular significance is the suppression of prostaglandin by inhibiting both COX and lipoxygenase. Although ginger has mostly been studied for its therapeutic potential in osteoarthritis and gastrointestinal disorders, it has also been used internally and topically to address various inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis.