While psoriasis is primarily an autoimmune disorder, suggesting that any real treatment needs to address the underlying autoimmune response gone awry, its basic manifestation is in form of inflammation. Evidence suggests, therefore, that those suffering from psoriasis can benefit substantially from consuming an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding those foods that cause an allergic or inflammatory response.
As it turns out, a great many psoriasis patients have an increased sensitivity to gluten, and find that their symptoms improve significantly after switching to a gluten-free diet.
An anti-inflammatory diet involves favoring beneficial fats such as those found in cold-water fish, olive oil, seeds and nuts over detrimental fats like saturated fats, trans fats, fried foods and poor quality oils such as vegetable, corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oils.
Good and Bad Omega Fatty Acids
Beneficial fats are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have long been touted to be the holy grail of healthy eating. Conversely, detrimental fats are high in omega-6 fatty acids, an excessive amount of which can cause an inflammatory response in the human body.
Before the industrial revolution, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the average American diet was approximately 3:1, largely because there were no ready sources of omega-6 vegetable oils. Instead, most people consumed a diet that was much higher in fish or free-range beef or bison, which was high in omega-3. With the industrial revolution came the technology to refine various forms of vegetable oils, changing the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the average modern American diet to around 11:1.
Researchers believe that the human body has not yet been able to adapt to this rapid shift in consumption of fatty acids, causing increased inflammation and higher incidence of inflammatory diseases and conditions. Western cultures consume tremendous amounts of vegetable oils, especially in processed foods. Between 1909 and 1999, production of soy oil for food consumption increased 1000 times. Japan, by the way, has the lowest per-capital prevalence of psoriasis, worldwide.
Higher Prevalence of Corn-Fed Cattle
In this day and age, cattle, poultry, and domestically raised fish are being raised on cornmeal and soy-based feedstock, significantly raising the omega-6 content of the resulting meat and fish products. Tissues of farm animals raised on grass, worms or other natural diets are much higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
The much-touted “marbling” seen in domestic beef products is a direct result of cattle that have been raised on a diet of corn and soy, and these products contain much higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acid when compared with grass-fed cattle, and lower amounts of omega-3. While meat from cattle raised on grassland may contain as much as 4 percent omega-3 fatty acids, cattle raised on corn generally contain only 1/2 percent omega-3.
In addition to reducing consumption of omega-6 and increasing consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes an abundance of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. A number of seasonings can also block inflammatory response, including red pepper, turmeric, cloves, cumin, ginger, anise, basil, fennel, garlic, rosemary and pomegranate.
While switching to an anti-inflammatory diet may not be the total cure for psoriasis, it has been proven to have substantial benefits, among them reduction of cardiac risk factors. Psoriasis patients are known to be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, so a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is highly recommended to reduce that risk. Inflammation is also linked to a variety of other conditions and diseases, including digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. For these reasons, most researchers agree that diet plays an important part in managing and treating symptoms of psoriasis.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.