Anti-inflammatory diet - stops the no. 1 trigger of psoriasis.
Diet won't cure psoriasis, nothing cures it, as far as we know. But diet can stop psoriasis from flaring up, by eliminating the main trigger: perpetual inflammation from metabolic syndrome.
This diet project of mine started 10 years ago with me trying different diets and making huge lists of foods that irritated my psoriasis and ones that helped. A couple years ago I had two uncles survive heart attacks. They told me their diets. I realized the new anti-heart-attack diet doctors prescribe was basically my diet. I immediately started doing research and discovered the metabolic syndrome link. It wasn't until 2014 that dermatology offices started having some correct diet info for psoriasis. There is a bit of a dietary revolution going on right now, mainly in response to the obesity epidemic and heart attack rate. Here are several diets, and dietary ideas, that are very much similar:
- Obesity treatment diet (adipose tissue, body fat treatment diet)
- Heart attack treatment diet (cardiovascular disease treatment diet)
- Diabetes treatment diet (insulin resistance, glucose intolerance treatment diet)
- Epilepsy treatment diet (epilepsy ketogenic diet)
- Anti-inflammatory diet (metabolic syndrome, inflammation treatment diet)
- Paleolithic diet (paleo, caveman, stoneage, primal diet)
- Ketosis diet (keto, fat burning diet)
- Low-alcohol (or none, for neurotoxic or social reasons)
- Low-carb (very low fructose/sugar, very low refined carbs)
- Medium-protein (with animal proteins)
- High-fat (with: marine omega-3 - but: low omega-6, very low fried fats, and no trans-fats)
- High-soluble-fibre (with: prebiotics and high vitamin C)
- High-water (reverse osmosis, distilled, spring, zerowater)
- Intermittent fasting (especially skipping breakfast)
- Vitamin D3 (Sun exposure or supplemental)
- Metabolic exercise (cardio, weight, glycogen training)
- Dr Art Ayers - anti-inflammatory diet, c. 2003 (research molecular/cellular/developmental biologist - Colorado, SFPRL Stockholm, Mizzou, Colombia , KSU, Harvard, Cedar Crest, Idaho, Singapore - Cooling Inflammation blog)
- Dr Jean-Marc Schwarz - glucose/fructose/alcohol metabolic pathways, c. 1989 (research metabolic biochemist and nutritionist - Lausanne, UT, Berkeley & Touro)
- Dr Robert Lustig - anti-obesity, c. 1990 (research endocrinologist clinician - MIT, Cornell, Rockefeller, St Louis Children's Hospital & UCSF - Obesity Task Force of the Pediatric Endocrine Society)
- Dr John Yudkan - anti-sucrose, c. 1938 (research nutritionist QEC & Cambridge)
- Dr Robert Atkins - high protein diet, c. 1972 (medical Cornell, cardiologist Columbia, nutrition author, The Atkins Diet™)
- Gary Taubes - carbs, insulin and body fat, c. 1987 (physics Harvard, aerospace Stanford, journalism Columbia, research journalist Discover magazine, et al. - nutrition author)
- Mark Sisson - primal diet, c. 2004 (pre-med biology Williams, ironman world champ, triathlete and Olympics committees, fitness author, Mark's Daily Apple blog, The Primal Blueprint™ diet)
- Brian Lewis - psoriasis diet, c. 2010 (software engineering UF, psoriasis sufferer:)
- Jimmy Moore - ketosis diet, c 2012 (poli-sci & english UT Martin, public policy Regent University)
This topic is so huge, that I am going to create a spin-off site just to cover the anti-inflammatory diet in depth. On this page, I'll cover the basics of the diet, and biologically why it works like it does.
The Psoriasis Anti-Inflammatory Diet: nutrient breakdown
The main goal of the diet is reducing metabolic inflammation. Digestion and energy conversion in general are stressful processes for the body. This diet lays out the the dietary nutrients in order of most benefit with least damage. I wish nutritional labels grouped the nutrient categories by how things are metabolized:
- Non-calorie base nutrients:
- Lots of clean drinking water (reverse osmosis water, distilled water, spring water, zero filter water)
- Also from organic high water content low-carb veggies (organic: celery, cucumbers, radish, etc.)
- Soluble Fibre (high)
- Lots of organic dark green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, leaf lettuce, Brussels sprouts, green onions, scallions, leaks, etc.)
- Also low-carb veggies (bell peppers, iceberg lettuce, onions, garlic, ginger, tumeric, eggplant, peppers, etc.)
- Also meat and fish (beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc.)
- Fatty acid calories:
- Saturated and monounsaturated fats (majority of calories)
- meat (meat fats, chicken, beef, pork, venison, emu, etc.)
- bird eggs (chicken, quail, ostrich, etc.)
- low-carb fatty fruits and veggies (avocados, olives, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil)
- low-carb dairy (butter, cheese, heavy cream, low-carb high-fat yogurt)
- avoid Omega-6 cooking oils (avoid: almost all vegetable oils - except: olive, avocado, coconut, macadamia, oleic sunflower, sea buckthorn, chia and flax)
- Marine Omega-3 fats
- low-mercury fish (wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies, roe, etc.)
- grass fed sources (grass fed beef and lamb, etc.)
- supplemental marine sources (fish oil, krill oil, algae oil)
- Amino acid calories:
- Animal Full Proteins (10-35% of calories)
- fish, meat, eggs, roe, dairy
- Carbohydrate and alcohol calories:
- Resistant starches (low)
- RS2 - raw unripe granular starches (unripe green bananas, raw sweet potatoes, high amylose corn, etc.)
- RS3 - cooked and cooled starchy veggies - (cooked very cold: legumes, beans, sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, oatmeal, corn, cereal grains, etc.)
- Low-carb starchy vegetables & mushrooms (low)
- bell peppers, artichoke, eggplant, carrots, turnips, winter squash, elder berry, persimmon, gooseberry, etc.
- mushrooms: shiitake, portobello, white, brown, enoki, girolli, porcini, oyster, morel, etc.
- Nuts & seeds (low)
- nuts (omega-6, starches)
- seeds (omega-6, starches)
- macadamia nuts (omega-7, starches)
- Low-fructose fruits and veggies (very low)
- lemons, limes, strawberries, raspberries, guava, carambola starfruit, passion fruit, cranberry, lingonberry, cowberry, plums, tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, beets, etc.
- Alcohol (very low)
- low-carb alcohol (plain spirits, dry wine), less than 10 drinks a week and no more than one drink an hour
- Sugar-alcohols (very low)
- xylitol (beneficial to teeth in chewing gum)
- others: sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH), etc.
- Glucose sugars (very low)
- minimize glucose sugars (minimize: glucose, maltose, dextrose, malt, cereal grain syrups, lactose, galactose, milk sugar, rice syrup)
- minimize high-starch food (minimize: flour, maltodextrin, dextrins, corn meal, bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, grains, cereal, sweet potatoes, yucca, turnips, etc.)
- Fructose sugars, dried fruits, high-fructose fruits (almost none)
- Nearly eliminate refined fructose sugars (Nearly eliminate: high fructose corn syrup, fructose crystals, levulose, hexulose, sugar, sucrose, saccharose, fruit juice concentrate, cane sugar, cane juice, sugar cane crystals, sorghum syrup, honey, agave nectar, beet sugar, coconut sugar, coconut palm sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, treacle, turbinado, xylose, etc.)
- Dried fruits (dried: dates, figs, mangoes, pineapple, cherries, plantains, bananas, apricots, raisins, cranberries, etc.)
- High-fructose fruits - dates, figs, mangoes, pineapple, grapes, plantains, bananas, apples, pears, cherries, pineapple, watermelon, canteloupe
- Medium-fructose fruits - blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, apricots, coconut, honey dew melon, pomegranate, currant, etc.
- Deficiency supplements:
- Soluble Fibre - supplement: dark green leafy vegetables, shirataki noodles, psyllium husks powder, Citrucel, Metamucil, etc.
- Omega-3 - supplement: marine sources (fish oil, krill oil, algae oil); and minimize omega-6 vegetable oils.
- Vitamin C - supplement: broccoli, kale, spinach, lemons, limes, cilantro - or vitamin C pills; Vitamin E skin oils work better with high vitamin C.
- Vitamin D3 - supplement: moderated sunlight exposure with skin oils and no sunscreen produces your natural D3 - or take vitamin D3 pills; vitamin K2 may need to be supplemented to help activate the D3.
The Psoriasis Anti-Inflammatory Diet: nutrients more info
The two main nutrients in the diet are water and soluble fibre. Water and soluble fibre are the two most important nutrients, and they make up the bulk of the diet. Water and soluble fibre will make you feel full with no calories, and they are extremely important to your health. Water is well know to be essential to the survival of every cell, but soluble fibre is often hardly know at all. Soluble fibre is the main pre-biotic that feeds you gut flora and intestinal cells, which are vital to digestion and are the center of the immune system. Soluble fibre is important for increasing Regulatory T cells (Tregs) which go around turning off non-beneficial inflammatory signals. Soluble fibre also helps slow and control digestion at a safe rate. Digestion of calories and management of energy are highly stressful and potentially damaging processes in the body.
The rest of the diet has to do with organizing and minimizing damage from the macronutrients, which are the main sources of dietary calories. Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6) and certain amino acids (a defining part of proteins) are the only essential macronutrients, you need them for vital bodily functions, and your body can't make them. Monounsaturated and saturated fats are the only macronutrient you can consume a large percentage of your calories from without damage. Most calories should come from mono. and saturated fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are needed but special, they are used in immune signaling, equal quantities of each in low to medium total mount is often recommended. Proteins are also minimally damaging and with essential amino acids from 10%-35% of the calories.
The rest you have to be careful with. These items are the low-carb section of the diet that should be limited or skipped entirely. None of these are essential. The first half of these are beneficial in low amounts. Refined glucose & fructose are damaging empty calories. Resistant starches function somewhere between glucose carbs and soluble fiber, most of the calories make it to the large intestines and feed gut flora, but they also can minimally spike your blood sugar and be a flatulent or laxative. Similarly Low-carb starchy vegetable and mushrooms have lots good stuff in there, and the low amount of carbs are bound up in cell walls where they don't spike your blood sugar much. Nuts and seeds are similar in terms of vitamins and such, but should be limited more due to high omega-6, except for macadamia nuts which are omega-7. Low-fructose fruits have some good nutrients in them with low fructose damage because the fructose is less and bound up in cell walls. Alcohol is a good point to start dropping the rest of the items off of your diet. Low alcohol consumption is statistically shown to improve health, but almost no health care professional will recommend using it as a dietary nutrient. Sugar-alcohols are unique molecules that resemble both sugar and alcohol. Sugar-alcohols mostly pass through undigested as a laxative., but the more often you eat them the more they will get converted to glucose. And then there are the refined sugars and starches, which provide metabolic damage along with little to no nutritional benefit. In general the refined glucose carbs are less damaging than the refined fructose carbs. Fructose, glucose, and alcohol metabolism are covered in depth in later sections.
If needed, also supplement any essential vitamins and minerals you may have missed. Marine omega-3 (fish, krill, algae), Vitamin C (green leafy veggies and citrus), and Vitamin D3 (from sun exposure) are common deficiencies. If you are eating lots of dark green leafies (spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.), some fish (wild salmon, etc.), and getting some sun. No supplements may be necessary. You can get blood work to check your vitamin and mineral levels and supplement any that are low with specific foods or pills. High soluble fibre and low-carb usually corrects general blood fats and metabolic indicators.
All that is needed to go on a cleanse is strictly follow the diet with all of the last (very low amount) nutrients eliminated. And include intermittent fasting to increase the cleanse benefits.
Metabolic syndrome, diet & inflammation
Metabolic syndrome is the number trigger of psoriasis. An inflammatory diet is what causes metabolic syndrome. Carbohydrates, alcohol, and omega-6 fats, eaten in medium to high amounts, lead to excessive hunger and inflammation signaling in your system. Over time this leads to metabolic syndrome, which can include: incorrect calorie signaling, excess hunger, excess body fat, fatty liver, high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, pre-diabetes, systemic inflammation, and constant irritation/damage to organs. Long term, metabolic syndrome develops into the main diseases of civilization: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and decreased ability to kill cancers.
Any dietary/immune source of inflammation will affect psoriasis, such as fighting an infection or a high-carb meal. A small amount of dietary/immune inflammation gets multiplied down the psoriasis inflammatory signaling pathway.
Early metabolic syndrome, body fat (excess adipose tissue) or fatty liver (excess liver fat vacuoles), can start irritating psoriasis. Once it develops into blood sugar problems—high blood sugar (pre-diabetes), inability to lower blood sugar (insulin resistance), and irritation from blood sugar (glucose intolerance)—it can seriously irritate psoriasis, and make eating much more inflammatory than normal.
Fructose, sugar & alcohol: cause metabolic syndrome
Fructose (fruit sugar) is the sweetest simple sugar. Fructose is what makes fruit juice, soda, and candy so sweet.
Table sugar (sucrose) is a molecule of two simple sugars: fructose + glucose. Most "sugars" on a nutritional label are at least 50% fructose, except for malt (glucose + glucose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and pure glucose. Malt is what you make malted milk balls and beer out of. Lactose is milk sugar, and galactose is milk simple sugar. Glucose is starch simple sugar, which is used as blood sugar.
Fructose has a very unique metabolism, and is converted to liver fat (vacuoles) and body fat (adipose tissue) like no other nutrient. It also blocks the calorie reporting signal (leptin). Because of this, fructose encourages over consumption of calories that get stored as fat, which makes it the leading contributor to metabolic syndrome.
Fructose tends to stay mostly in your liver during metabolism:
- Fructose goes straight to your liver
- Fructose is converted to liver glycogen until full, for later blood sugar creation
- Fructose is converted to triglycerides, which are stored as liver fat and body fat
- Fructose is converted to blood lactate and glucose, for normal energy
Alcohol is a macronutrient, meaning it is a dietary source of calories, like carbs and fat. And it is a neurotoxin, that produces the known effects. Alcohol gets stored as liver fat, like fructose. And alcohol bypasses accurate calorie reporting by getting absorbed into your blood.
Alcohol's is in your blood, brain, and liver during metabolism. This is the main metabolic pathway for alcohol:
- Alcohol absorbs into your blood
- Some alcohol is metabolized by the brain, producing the neurotoxic effects
- Alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde, a toxic intermediary
- Acetaldehyde is converted to carbon-dioxide and water in the kidneys, at around one drink an hour
- Some additional acetaldehyde is converted to triglycerides, which are stored as liver fat
- Additional acetaldehyde is converted to acetate by the liver, for normal energy
Glucose carbs sugar/malt/starches: cause blood sugar inflammation
Glucose is a carbohydrate simple sugar, and it's used in your body as blood sugar. No glucose or carbs in general are necessary in the diet. The liver can make all the glucose your body needs. Producing the minimum necessary blood sugar is one of the liver's main jobs. If there is dietary glucose available, your metabolism shifts to use it.
High blood sugar irritates/damages organs. Your body produces insulin to reduce high blood sugar by storing it as body fat. Eating glucose carbs (sugars, malts, starches) will directly raise your blood sugar. How fast it raises your blood sugar is called it's glycemic index. How much it raises your sugar in total, glycemic index and total amount eaten, is called glycemic load.
Four diabetic factors of metabolic syndrome can make eating glucose carbs, and blood sugar in general, more irritating and damaging. These factors cause each other in order. Excess fructose and alcohol cause step 1. High-glucose diet can perpetuate this to full blown diabetes, and can cause step 2 without fatty liver.
- Pre-diabetic fatty liver - raises your minimum glucose production to an irritating level.
- Pre-diabetic insulin resistance - decreases ability to lower of high blood sugar.
- Pre-diabetic glucose intolerance - increases the inflammation from high blood sugar.
- Type 2 diabetes - very high blood sugar levels, and produced insulin is completely ineffective at lower blood sugar levels.
Low-glycemic glucose carbs in small quantities will not raise blood sugar to damaging levels. Ground and refined carbs like table sugar, flour, bread, pasta, sweet drinks, fruit juice, vegetable juice, sweets and candy have the highest glycemic index, the glucose goes straight into your blood. There are a few things that make any carb lower glycemic, they can be used in combination:
- Soluble fibre & water - eaten before the carbs becomes a paste that slows down digestion.
- Fats & oils - especially covering the carbs makes carbs less accessible and slow digestion. Note that omega-6 and fried oils are inflammatory.
- Insoluble fibre & cell walls - encasing the carbs, as in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, makes carbs less accessible, especially high fibre.
- Anti-diabetic supplements - like vinegar and garlic, have different mechanisms for preventing high blood sugar.
Higher glucose levels are least damaging before and during cardio (where it is readily used for energy), and after strength training (where it is used to restore muscle glycogen). Glycogen is stored glucose.
Glucose tends to stay mostly in your blood during metabolism:
- Glucose goes right into the blood as blood sugar, irritating/damaging all organs.
- Glucose is converted to restore any depleted muscle glycogen, speeding muscle recovery.
- Glucose is converted to restore any depleted liver glycogen, for later blood sugar creation.
- Cell metabolism increases to burn extra glucose, increasing energy.
- Insulin is released to convert remaining excess glucose into adipose tissue, stored body fat.
Omega-6 oils: cause signaling inflammation
Omega-6 oils and omega-3 oils are polyunsaturated special fats. They are used in inflammatory immune signaling. And they are essential, your body can't make them, so you have to eat them. Omega-6 molecules themselves are inflammatory signals, and Omega-3 molecules are anti-inflammatory signals.
Omega-6 fats - are in most vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and are extremely high in: vegetable cooking oils, (other than olive, coconut, macadamia, and flax). In particular LA (linolenic acid) is active as an immune inflammatory signaling molecule, and AA (arachidonic acid) is highly active.
Omega-3 fats - are in most marine life, marine fed and grass fed animals, and high in: fish, fish oil, krill oil, or algae oil. Marine/animal omega-3 (particularly EPA & DHA) are active as immune anti-inflammatory signaling molecules. Flax and chia have plant omega-3 (ALA) which is not active in signaling, but some ALA can be converted to active omega-3.
Small amounts of Omega-6 are necessary for the immune system to respond, but large amounts cause false inflammatory signals. Large amounts of omega-6 also block omega-3 signals, since they use the same receptors. The average western diet provides over 10 times the necessary omega-6 amount, and does not provide enough omega-3.
For optimal healthy omega immune signaling, omega-6 and omega-3 should be near equal in amount just above the necessary amount. The most common way to do this is avoiding vegetable cooking oils, nuts, and seeds (other than olive, coconut, macadamia, and flax) and eating fish, fish oil, krill oil, or algae oil.
Fried, overcooked, and chemically altered fats: cause oxidative inflammation
Fats/oils are the main source of calories in this diet. But they are not healthy if they are altered or destroyed (trans-fat, fried, burned, oxidized, peroxidation, tocopherol reduction, spoiled rotten). Fried cooking oils are the key unhealthy example, but this also goes for any high-temperature cooking (deep frying, searing, broiling, char grilling, boiling, oil roasting, etc.) of any food with fat (meats, fatty fruits, most vegetables, nuts, seeds, and cooking oils themselves).
Fats are very functional in our bodies, far beyond just being used for calories. Fats/oils are the major structural element of cell membranes. You body uses fats to grow and repair cells. Skin can metabolize fats directly for this purpose, that is one reason they are instrumental in lotions. Fats/oils help cells make energy from oxygen (aerobic respiration). In cell membranes, fats modulate oxidative stress. In the cell's energy production center (mitochondria), fats play a role in the oxidizing agents in aerobic respiration.
When fats are altered—high-temperature cooking or chemically converted to trans-fats—their anti-oxidant and aerobic properties are decreased or destroyed and toxins are introduced (oxidation, peroxidation, tocopherol reduction, heterocyclic amines (HCAs), glycotoxin AGEs). For cells that use these fats, cell membranes do not function properly. Cell stress increases. Aerobic respiration can slow or fail in the mitochondria. The cell can go into anaerobic respiration, not using oxygen, and not producing enough electricity. Cells can start to die and send inflammatory signals. Other toxins do additional damage.
Fats in nuts and seeds are relatively resistant to oxidation. Dry roasting does minimal oxidation, while oil roasting does more. Although, most nuts and seeds are high in omega-6, so they are a minimal part of the diet.
Fats in meats, fruits, veggies, and cooking oils are fully susceptible to oxidation and toxins. Here is the short list of how to minimize cooking oxidation and toxins for fatty foods.
- Pan fry on low heat (don't deep fry or sear)
- Stew or steam (don't boil, stew or poach)
- Pre-cook then grill on low (Don't char grill on high heat)
- Bake with lower heat (Don't broil)
- Marinate in anti-oxidant spices (tumeric, ginger, garlic, mint-family herbs, peppermint, rosemary, basil, oregano, sage)