Psoriasis cannot be cured, however if proper and regular management of psoriasis can enable the patient to lead a comfortable and easy life. Apart from the daily management and medications, foods consumed also play an important role in case of psoriasis. A food habit of consuming only natural and home-cooked food can prove very valuable in treating psoriasis.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune, non-contagious skin disease that causes appearance of flaky silver-white patches on the skin, along with redness and irritation. The normal skin cells grow and get replaced by new cells. However, in people with psoriasis, this process is extremely fast. The dead skin cells build up over the skin surface and form flaky and thick patches. These patches cause irritation and stretching of the neighboring skin surface. As of now, there is no best way to prevent or completely cure psoriasis. However, proper diagnosis and care can help in preventing psoriasis from flaring up and spreading. Proper and regular management of psoriasis can enable the patient to lead a comfortable and easy life. Psoriatic patients also need to be very diligent in choosing their diet. Consumption of alcoholic beverages, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks, excess salt, red meat, seafood, dairy products and refined sugar can trigger an outbreak of psoriasis. Smokers are at a higher risk of severe psoriatic attack. A patient suffering from psoriasis should consume plenty of water, raw vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.
Recommended Food Categories for Psoriasis
Nuts and Seeds
Many seeds and nuts contain numerous essential fatty acids specially omega 3 and omega 6 acids. A balanced intake of omega 3 and omega 6 is essential to resist the uncontrollable inflammation seen in psoriasis. Important seeds to be included in diet are pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, lecithin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and poppy seeds. It is recommended that seeds be consumed raw as cooking or roasting usually destroys many important fatty acids. Also seeds are to be ground before consuming as powdered seeds are digested much more easily than whole seeds. Important nuts to be included in one’s diet are Brazil nut, walnut and almond. The consumption of nuts and seeds should be regulated to check excess consumption and should be followed by ample consumption of water.
Liberal consumption of fruits is found to be beneficial for psoriasis. Fruits that should be included in your diet are grapes, date, apples, pear, pomegranate, apricot, avocado, banana, mango, papaya, watermelon, raisin and jackfruit. Fruits whose consumption should be limited are berries such as strawberry, blackberry and blueberry, kiwi, orange, guava, lime, lemon and pineapple. The fruits should be consumed whole or as shakes made from non-dairy milk.
Raw vegetables such as carrot, cucumber, radish, onion, garlic, shallot, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beet, cabbage should form a major part of the one’s diet. The vegetables can be had in the form of salad with olive oil and pepper dressing. Preferably, salt should not be added to the salad.
Other vegetables which can be had safely in cooked form are pumpkins, green bean pods, cauliflower, unripe papaya, unripe banana, pointed guard, bitter guard and okra. Potato consumption should be limited and the outer skin should not be discarded. Some sources recommend juice extracted from fresh bitter guards to be consumed in the morning in empty stomach. Bitter guard is found to have good potential to counter symptoms of psoriasis. Some vegetables which may be possible allergens and hence should be avoided are eggplant, tomatoes and tamarind.
Cereals and legumes
Several studies point out the harmful effect of gluten on psoriasis. Gluten is an allergen present in cereals such as wheat, rye, barley and oat. Care should be taken to avoid foods containing these cereals. Several gluten-free alternative cereals are suitable for psoriatic patients. These include rice, corn, quinoa, teff, millet and amaranth. Quinoa is specially recommended for its high nutritional content. The cereals should be had in their unpolished and unprocessed form, intact with their bran and germ.
Different types of sprouted beans are an excellent source of minerals and vitamin B-complex. The sprouts can be had as such or can be added to the vegetable salad. The excessive scaling witnessed in psoriasis can deplete protein from the body. All the types of legumes are excellent sources of protein and vitamins.
Some studies point out the beneficial effect of a vegetarian diet on psoriasis. Meat particularly red meat is shown to worsen an already existing psoriatic condition. Though meat consumption is generally discouraged, white meat such as turkey, poultry and rabbit meat can be consumed in moderation. Seafood is a known allergen to psoriasis. However, freshwater fishes can be consumed safely. Oily fishes such as salmon, sardine and mackerel are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acid and should be consumed regularly. Preparation method for the meat or fish can include grilling, smoking or steaming with minimal use of cooking oil. Eggs should be consumed in moderation and yolk should be avoided as far as possible. Shrimps, prawns and crabs, sourced either from seawater or freshwater are prohibited for a psoriatic patient.
Several diet programs for psoriasis call for complete elimination of dairy products from diet. Dairy products are suspected to cause skin inflammation. However, daily consumption of fresh buttermilk prepared from yogurt is said to be beneficial for psoriasis. Buttermilk is said to cleanse the toxins accumulated in the gastrointestinal tract. It also aids in digestion. Dairy products can be replaced by plant-derived milk and creams. Foods like soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, bean curd and tofu can replace milk, yogurt and cheese. Milk substitutes from plant sources are usually poor in calcium and some vitamins and hence should be fortified.
Though it is preferable to get the essential minerals and vitamins from natural sources, sometimes it may be necessary to take supplements. Vitamins supplements such as vitamin B-complex, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E could be taken in physician-prescribed dosage. Zinc, calcium and iron supplements are also prescribed sometimes. Essential oil supplements such as fish oil are often recommended in case of psoriasis. All the supplements should only be consumed after consultation with a qualified dermatologist.