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Skin Health Q2 2022

Nutrition and psoriasis: does diet play a role?

Dr Thivi Maruthappu MA PhD FRCP

Certificate in Nutrition Science | Consultant Dermatologist

Research suggests that gut health could play an important role to play in skin health, particularly for people living with psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition which affects around 2% of the population in the UK. It can lead to sore, itchy patches of skin and can have a considerable impact on a person’s quality of life.

In recent years, we have become aware that some people who live with psoriasis may have an increased chance of developing other health conditions later in life. As a result, taking care of your overall health matters when you have psoriasis and one way we can do this is through diet.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

There are many ways to improve our overall health, it isn’t a “one size fits all” approach. When it comes to nutrition, I often suggest to my patients to think about a “Mediterranean-style” way of eating. This means trying to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, beans and pulses, wholegrains, nuts and seeds and use olive oil for cooking where possible. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for heart health and early studies show it could help with psoriasis too.

Should you cut gluten or dairy?

We don’t have evidence that shows that cutting our dairy is helpful for psoriasis. In a survey of over 1,200 people with psoriasis, only 6% felt that eating dairy worsened their skin.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and certain grains. People with psoriasis are more likely to have another immune condition called coeliac disease, where the body attacks gluten in the gut, causing inflammation. Going gluten-free can help manage psoriasis in people who also have coeliac disease or positive coeliac blood tests, but it doesn’t seem to be helpful otherwise.

Will food intolerance testing help?

Food intolerance tests (or IgG tests) have no role in psoriasis. They tell you about foods your body has been exposed to, not foods you are allergic to. Psoriasis is not caused by food allergies.

Gut and skin link

Interesting research shows that there may be a link between the trillions of microbes that live in our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiome, and psoriasis. Whilst further research is still needed to understand the nature of this relationship and whether probiotics can help. We can still support our gut health by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables as this helps good bacteria to thrive.

The APPLE Study (Asking People with Psoriasis about Lifestyle and Eating) is the first study of its kind in the UK to look at the relationship between nutrition and psoriasis. This research is funded by the Psoriasis Association.

Find out more and take part at www.dietandpsoriasisproject-apple.com

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