What factors may promote this initial inflammatory state?
Diet appears to have a significant role in causing the inflammation which underlies psoriasis. Reports of high levels of anti-gluten antibodies in psoriasis sufferers and of improvements in symptoms on gluten-free diets suggest that food intolerances may play a part.
A recent study led by Dr Abrar Quereshi and published in the Archives of Dermatology  revealed that women drinking more than 5 beers a week were almost twice as likely to develop psoriasis when compared to women drinking equivalent amounts of wine, low calorie beer or other alcohol. Although there are strong links between alcohol intake and psoriasis, particularly in men  , researchers suspected that these women might be reacting to the high amount of gluten, a wheat protein in beer, rather than to the alcohol itself.
Yeast is also a common allergen. Of course there are many other foods that you may be sensitive to (such as dairy, eggs or nuts) and a simple test may help to determine whether a food intolerance is contributing to your symptoms. If you have hidden food allergies, then eating the offending foods can cause constant irritation of the gut, possibly resulting in increased intestinal permeability, poor nutrient absorption and bacteria / yeast imbalances. This may well underlie inflammation and promote psoriasis.
Consider the following scenarios: As poorly digested food and pathogens slip between the inflamed intestinal cells and enter the blood stream, the body may respond by mounting an immune response against these ‘foreign’ particles – the result: chronic, systemic inflammation perhaps eventually tipping into auto-immunity. Alternatively, poor nutrient absorption may lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Vitamin D has an immuno-regulatory role and vitamin A plays a part in controlling cell replication. Both of these vitamins are used in psoriasis treatment and are typically applied directly to the skin.
Still focusing on the digestive system Erica White, nutritional therapist, director of Nutrition Help and author of the ‘Beat Candida Cookbook’, has found that candida albicans, a yeast that normally resides in the digestive system, can grow out of control and pass from the gut into the body causing a variety of health problems, including skin conditions such as psoriasis. She finds that an anti-candida diet often relieves psoriasis. My Special Report on How to Beat Candida provides you with all the information you need to tackle a candida overgrowth.
Can the food you eat affect your psoriasis?
When considering the impact of the diet there is more than just possible food intolerances to be aware of. Low energy diets, vegetarian diets and diets rich in fish oils  have all been shown to improve psoriasis symptoms. Although the foods eaten are very different, such dietary changes all produce a similar effect in the body and promote the production of anti-inflammatory substances. They do this by changing the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet and ultimately in the body.
Fatty acids come from fats and are essential for healthy skin, nails, even cells. When processed in the body, fatty acids produce products which may promote or inhibit inflammation. This means that by altering your diet and balancing your intake of fatty acids, you could reduce your overall inflammatory status. Read The Fats of Life in the July 2009 newsletter for an in-depth explanation of the important role of fats.
What else may be affecting your psoriasis?
Looking beyond the digestive system, there are other organs that have a role in psoriasis.
The liver is primarily responsible for processing and removing toxins from the body. However, if liver function is below average then these toxins may be excreted via the skin. So when diseases affect the skin, as psoriasis does, it is sensible to consider the processes in the body that deal with detoxification and elimination. My 9-Day Liver Detox Diet is a fantastic way to improve liver function and help your body deal with toxins. The liver is also responsible for processing hormones and removing them from the general circulation.
There is a higher incidence of auto-immune disease in women and, with recent studies reporting that high levels of the hormone oestrogen are associated with increased auto-immunity , it’s possible that the sex hormones play a part in psoriasis. You may suspect or know that your hormones are out of balance – particularly if you suffer from PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids or have already had your levels checked. (Hormone tests can be arranged via your Nutritional Therapist). If so, then you may benefit from exploring ways to balance your hormones so read the Special Report on How To Balance Your Hormones Naturally.
Population studies have also shown that there is a strong genetic component to this disease – immediate relatives have a higher risk of developing psoriasis than the general population . Although it’s impossible to alter your genetic makeup, other lifestyle factors which are known to trigger the disease, such as alcohol, smoking, emotional stress and sunburn, can all be modified. So drinking less, stopping smoking, taking time to relax and reduce stress and protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure are just 4 of the steps that you could take right now. A recent report published in the Archives of Dermatology  also identifies an increased incidence of features of metabolic syndrome in psoriasis sufferers when compared to the general population.
Characterised by a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, high total cholesterol and high triglycerides, metabolic syndrome has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. ......
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