Evidence is mounting that the answer is “YES”! Recent scientific studies are providing evidence that a Mediterranean diet can help psoriasis. This is big news because in the recent past, we knew little about psoriasis or what you could do to change your fate if you suffered from it. Other than the fact that psoriasis was a potentially debilitating skin-problem, we knew very little about how to control it. We never understood why some people had severe and life-altering psoriasis, yet other people had mild psoriasis that they could hide and that rarely got worse.
In the early part of my 30+ year career in dermatology, the best lifestyle advice we could offer psoriasis patients was to moisturize their skin. The rest was up to luck and prescription medicines such as cortisone creams, or oral medicines that had huge side-effects like methotrexate or retinoids.
Now, we know that psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, and lifestyle can intercede to either help or hurt the skin problem. This means a Mediterranean diet can help psoriasis just like it can help other inflammatory health problems. We also know that psoriasis is often genetic, and that some genetically-predisposed people have worse cases of psoriasis, and others don’t. Like other inflammatory diseases (such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease), diet and lifestyle are hugely important.
The exciting news is that psoriasis patients can take some measure of control of their skin with lifestyle choices, such as a Mediterranean diet.
In a new scientific study, the severity of psoriasis was directly correlated with diet – and a Mediterranean diet can help psoriasis. In the study, people on an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet have been shown to have less severe psoriasis compared with people on a more traditional, Western diet.
What is a true anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet for psoriasis?
A true Mediterranean diet is one that emphasizes:
- Mostly fruits and veggies;
- Followed by:
- whole grains;
- nuts; and
- extra-virgin olive oil.
Meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, and alcohol are eaten rarely and sparingly as treats, not dietary staples. Of course, the modern Western diet is exactly the opposite.
Of course, the modern Western diet is exactly the opposite of a true Mediterranean anti-inflammatory diet.
Study authors go on to say:
“One possible explanation for the Mediterranean diet’s ability to reduce chronic, systemic inflammation relates to the anti-inflammatory properties of dietary fibers, antioxidants, and polyphenols – all significantly present in the Mediterranean diet.”
Céline Phan, MD, et. al.
A Mediterranean diet has been proven to help other, chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Evidence is mounting – we are what we eat, even in dermatology, which long-held that diet and skin diseases were unrelated!Cynthia Bailey, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist and Skin Wellness Expert
I’ve bucked that doctrine for years because of the clinical observations I’ve made. Yes, they are anecdotal, but I’ve observed that diet and lifestyle matter for my psoriasis patients. Psoriasis severity was, and is, associated with obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, smoking, and alcohol consumption. My psoriasis patients have always gotten lifestyle and diet counseling from me throughout my career. Now, scientific evidence is proving the connection.