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How Weight Loss and Diet Impact Psoriasis


Symptoms of the chronic skin condition known as psoriasis "can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas. Mild cases of psoriasis may be a nuisance; more-severe cases can be painful, disfiguring and disabling," according to the Mayo Clinic. Although symptoms vary, the uncertainty about how to alleviate this condition is shared by all sufferers. New studies, however, are offering hope.

Weight Loss for Psoriasis

A new study is offering hope for those with psoriasis, reports the International News. A clinical trial indicated that when obese patients suffering from this condition shed pounds, they experienced reduction in stinging and burning. In addition, they felt emotionally better, noted Dr. Peter Jensen, of the Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte, and colleagues.

“Our results emphasize the importance of weight loss as part of a multimodal treatment approach to effectively treat both the skin condition and its [related medical] conditions in overweight patients with psoriasis,” the researchers said.

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To conduct the trial, the researchers assigned patients to either a low-calorie diet or a normal food plan. Those on the low calorie diet both lost weight and experienced improvements in their symptoms and quality of life.

Obesity Plays Role in Psoriasis

Why does weight impact this skin condition so much? "Obesity is a huge issue for patients with psoriasis,” said Dr. Joel Gelfand, an associate professor of dermatology and medical director of the clinical studies unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. “If you’re obese with psoriasis, psoriasis is less likely to get clear.”

In addition, because obesity is linked to inflammation and psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, the connection is clear, said Dr. Larry Green, chairman of the research committee for the National Psoriasis Foundation. “Anytime someone is obese, it’s going to affect how their body can heal because it’s a stress on the body and stress affects inflammation,” Green said. “By losing weight, they’re going to reduce the burden on their body.” Another possibility is that obesity may cause immune system responses that are very similar to those prompted by psoriasis. “Obesity is associated with the same elevations of cytokines in the blood that promote psoriasis,” Gelfand said. Cytokines are small signaling proteins used to regulate the body’s immune response.

Diet Tips for Psoriasis

The Mayo Clinic also recommends avoiding alcohol, because "alcohol consumption may decrease the effectiveness of some psoriasis treatments." And as far as specific diet, the doctors at the clinic say that "it's important to eat a healthy diet, particularly when you have a chronic disease. A healthy diet includes eating a variety fruits and vegetables of all colors and whole grains. If you eat meat, focus on lean cuts and fish. If you think certain foods make your symptoms better or worse, keep a food diary to see what effect different foods have."