Millions of people suffer worldwide from psoriasis. Many more suffer from related skin issues.
I was one of them.
The medical industry did not help me. But some of these tactics did.
Forget about expensive creams and lotions. How much sense would it make to water the leaves of a dying tree? Not much, right? The solution is going underground and taking care of the roots.
Read on to learn more about some of the tactics I used to help my skin issues
The cutting edge of psoriasis research is focused on tying it to autoimmunity.
Experts estimate there are 80-100+ different types of autoimmune disease (*), and psoriasis is one of the most common. Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system is hyperactive and starts to attack tissues and organs of the body. In the case of psoriasis, the immune system is attacking the skin and can sometimes progress to attacking the joints as well; this is known as psoriatic arthritis.
Research shows that poor gut health is associated with psoriasis. And this makes sense since the gut is essentially the mothership of the immune system. A chaotic and confused immune system can be tamed by taking care of the gut.
Chronic inflammation is also a hallmark of psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions. Acute inflammation is a protective response of the immune system that can be life saving in a car accident or traumatic injury but when chronically activated it can lead to more disease and increase risk of death.
Our daily habits heavily influence both our gut health and inflammation. Taking control of diet, sleep habits, exercise and stress management are the best way to heal the root cause of psoriasis.
Symptoms and Sub-Types of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an umbrella term that encompasses several types of autoimmune disease. Symptoms of psoriasis can vary based on the type and may include:
- Reddish patches of skin covered with painful and itchy scales.
- Nail fungus and detached nails
- Discolored, dry, cracking skin
- Emotional distress, anxiety
There are several different subtypes of psoriasis:
- Plaque psoriasis: The most common type and typically manifests as patches on the elbows, knees and scalp. Nails may become thick and separate from their nail beds.
- Inverse psoriasis. A type of plaque psoriasis that affects skin creases such as those around the groin, under arms and/or under the breast. The patches may appear moist rather than scaling.
- Guttate psoriasis. This type causes small red papules to form all over the body. This is the second most common type of psoriasis and is more likely to start in childhood or adolescence. Guttate psoriasis can often develop after a strep throat infection.
- Pustular psoriasis. This type of psoriasis has a unique feature of small white pustules that commonly appear on hands and feet but can also appear all over the body (generalized pustular psoriasis).
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: This is the least common type of psoriasis and results in red, peeling, itchy, and burning rash covering the entire body.
What Causes Psoriasis?
So back to the root cause discussion. There are several causative factors for psoriasis and all contribute to an overactive and confused immune system:
- Gut health (leaky gut, dysbiosis). Sounds crazy, right? A 2008 study found that individuals with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) were ten times more likely to have a skin condition like psoriasis than those with normal gut bacteria.
- Chronic inflammation
- Your genes. A note about genes, sometimes people resign themselves to the fact that their genes predict their health destiny. This could not be further from the truth. Your lifestyle can turn on and turn off specific genes.
- Nutrient deficiencies
- High-stress levels
Enough of the WHAT and WHY, let’s get to the HOW you can start healing today. Because, let’s face it, that’s why you are here.
Psoriasis Diet: 8 Things to Try for Psoriasis
Before going further, I’d first like to underscore that this is not medical advice. These are things that I’ve tried and that have some circumstantial evidence in the literature for why they may work. This is all based on my read of the loose evidence.
(Yes a porcelain statue, can read).
Psoriasis isn’t a skin problem. It’s a whole-body problem. Skin is the canary in the coal mine, so to speak – an indicator that something is going on at a deeper level. Skin replaces itself every 6-8 weeks, which means you have an opportunity to replace the skin you have with radiant, healthy skin every two months.
Now, things don’t get rosy overnight but, start today by taking care of your gut, calming inflammation and feeding your skin what it needs, and before long, you’ll see an improvement worth all your efforts.
#1 Remove sugar
Dude, are you still eating sugar??? Sugar is more addictive than cocaine and literally makes you fat, sick and tired. Eliminate sugar and other inflammatory foods like processed, packaged junk food, soda, industrial oils, fruit juice, deep-fried foods, etc.) for literally an immediate improvement.
Not sure what constitutes an industrial oil or processed food? Industrial oils like soybean, corn and cottonseed oil are high in inflammatory omega six fatty acids and are found in most foods in the grocery store. Salad dressing? Check. Granola bars? Check. Mayonnaise? Check. Crackers? Check. You get the idea. Obviously, I’m not here to promote granola bars and crackers, and while you’re at it – avoid everything else in the center of the grocery store. Its all junk.
Processed food usually comes in a box, can or bag has more than three ingredients and would be unrecognizable to our great grandparents as food. Think of breakfast bars and cereals, wraps, pop tarts, twinkies, goldfish crackers, etc.
#2 Increase Omega 3 Fats
Think of omega three fats as the opposite of omega six fats. Omega 3’s calm inflammation and soothe skin. Where can you find them? Great sources include wild fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout and cod, the fat of grass-fed animals like cows, eggs of pasture-raised chickens as well as butter and ghee from grass fed cows. If you can incorporate some items on this list regularly throughout the week, you’ll get a nice dose of omega 3s.
It’s worth noting, if you follow these steps in order and increase your omega three intake and decrease your omega six intake you will gain an even better advantage.
#3 Eat Protein
The skin needs protein to rebuild itself after damage. Protein is, in fact, a building block of all of the body’s tissues. As psoriasis affects the skin more than any other organ, sufficient good quality protein is essential. Not only does protein help the skin repair but it also helps the lining of the digestive tract repair.
For both skin healing and gut healing benefits include muscle meats like steak and fish, gelatin (hydrolyzed collagen), and bone broth.
#4 Boost Skin Repairing Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A has many important functions but its role in producing healthy skin is paramount for individuals with psoriasis, a disease that literally attacks skin. Vitamin A protects and repairs the skin through a variety of mechanisms including:
- Production of new skin cells
- Promoting collagen production
- Preventing sun damage
- Supports oil glands around hair follicles
So where can you stock up on vitamin A? I’ll give you a hint, you don’t need to down supplements to get what you need.
Humans and animals make retinoids, the active form of vitamin A, and also store it in the liver and fat, making animal liver and animal fats the best sources. Beef liver, for example, is the world’s best natural source of retinol vitamin A in the world. Just 100g of beef liver contains over 15,000 IU of Vitamin A.
Beside liver, foods that naturally contain the highest amounts of vitamin A are those that are meant to sustain young animals through development like milk and eggs. The highest natural sources of retinoids include:
- Cod liver oil
- Whole milk
- Egg yolks
In addition to vitamin A, the mineral selenium is connected with skin health and psoriasis in particular. Selenium is an essential nutrient that functions as an antioxidant (protecting cells from damage) and also plays a role in healthy immune function.
One study found that a decline in selenium in blood was related to increased severity of psoriasis (*). Another study found that supplementing with selenium, in addition to other antioxidants like coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E resulted in a decrease in oxidative stress markers as well as an improvement in psoriasis including patch inflammation, joint pain and nail dystrophy (*). Although the study only had 58 participants it was a double blind, placebo controlled trial – this is the gold standard for study design in terms of weeding out possible influences.
The trial included 48 micrograms of selenium daily – this amount or more can be obtained through food, by adding one of the below to a meal:
- 3 oz of halibut, tuna, shrimp or sardines
- 4 oz of beef steak
- 4 oz of beef liver
- 6 oz of chicken
#5 Avoid Gut Damaging Foods
Remember the gut is the mothership of the immune system so if you’ve got a leaky gut, you can expect the immune system to be constantly misfiring. In fact, it is not uncommon to have more than one autoimmune condition. Why? Because the root causes are the same – the immune system is simply attacking different parts of the body.
So, avoid foods that damage the lining of your gut and promote inflammation. These include:
Lectins: lectins are plant proteins that are designed to steer bugs and other animals away from eating them. Think of them as natural insecticides the plants use for defense. They are designed to make bugs sick so that they steer clear the next go around.
Lectins are a sticky protein that bind to carbohydrates and interfere with cellular communication, particularly in the brain, gut and nervous system. They wear down the walls of the small intestine (*). They can also bind to viruses and bacteria, making it more likely for you to get sick from those invaders as well.
Common food sources of lectins include: beans, lentils, peanuts, grains (particularly gluten containing grains) and potatoes.
Saponins are bitter compounds naturally found in some plant foods like quinoa. The bitter taste of saponins is designed, much like lectins, to be a natural repellent to animals. Saponins can also damage the lining of the gut and bind to nutrients you actually need (*,*). If you want the immune system to be calm, cool and collected, protect the gut and stay away from saponin containing foods: beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant).
#6 Get your Vitamin D Status in Order
Studies show that psoriasis and vitamin D deficiency are connected. Many people in the US are deficient in vitamin D due to lack of sunlight exposure and obesity. Your body makes vitamin D from cholesterol but it needs sunlight to do it. Because skin cancer is also a health concern we’ve been trained to cover up with clothes and sunscreen. The other obvious issue here is that most people are sedentary and do not leave indoors for much of the day.
Vitamin D is stored in fat so if you are overweight or obese, so in addition to the above issues, if you’re storing fat and never burning it your vitamin d may remain sequestered.
Recent research recommends around 2000 IU of vitamin D daily or enough to keep your levels in check (*).
How? Vitamin D relatively scarce in food but the best naturally occuring sources of vitamin D are:
· Cod liver oil
Supplements may also be warranted here, particularly if you are deficient. In general, every 1000 IU of supplemental vitamin D raises serum levels by about 10 ng/mL.
#8 Clean Up Your Habits
This is a bonus, not diet related, but still intimately connected.
Finally, clean up your habits to reduce inflammation, calm the immune system and up regulate the body’s own repair system. What does this mean exactly?
Make sleep a priority. Sleep is literally the mind and body’s repair time. Less than 6 hours of sleep already impairs immune function, 8 hours is ideal. But, everyone is different so if you feel well rested on 7 hours of sleep that may just be your biology.
Manage stress. Stress promotes inflammation, impairs gut function and can even lead to premature aging. There are so many way to promote relaxation and reduce stress – even a simple thing like taking a walk in nature or inhaling a few deep breaths can turn on the relaxation response.
Get rid of booze and tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco increase oxidative stress to cells and tissues and increase inflammation. I know, I know, what about red wine??? When you have an autoimmune condition, you’re on a new playing field and the rules of population health don’t apply.
It’s Up to You, Start Healing and Start Living
There are so many lifestyle factors that can contribute to healing – diet, sleep and stress to name a few. A carnivore diet can help with this – in fact, it simplifies healing into one single intervention that provides all of what you need and none of the toxic inflammatory promoting foods you don’t.