Tuesday, February 5, 2013

You are what you eat




Last week I wrote a blog about the pharmaceutical options on the market right now for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.  Today I want to discuss some of the diet based treatments that people are finding some success with.

One thing to remember both with both pharmaceutical and natural/holistic treatments is there really is no one size fits all approach to Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis.  It can take a lot of trial and error to find what will work for you and your lifestyle.  Also remember you need to discuss with your medical professionals if you want to do drastic changes or diet programs to help control your psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis.

Many people find they do have food triggers.  It may be a full out allergy or a sensitivity that is causing your psoriasis especially to be triggered.

There are a few "diets" that are popular in the psoriasis community, but the one I hear the most about is Dr. Pagano's diet.  The Pagano Organization has information about the program and Dr. Pagano's books.  The basis of this approach is that the psoriasis is triggered through imbalance in the intestinal tract (Leaky Gut Syndrome).  It focuses on diet to equalize the intestinal tract and improve elimination of toxins.



Another popular approach is to do an elimination diet.  This is more focused on potential food allergies or sensitivities.  Generally it is suggested that you eliminate processed foods and foods that are common allergies such as dairy, gluten, yeast, and sugar.  It is also suggested that you eliminate foods that are most common in your diet.  If you drink orange juice ever morning for breakfast, remove citrus from your diet for several weeks to see if you have improvement.  A few web sites I have found useful in both following an elimination diet and still enjoying my food are The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen and 100 Days of Real Food.  Many people find that jump starting this elimination process by getting an allergy test done is helpful.  If you decide to start the elimination process with allergy testing be sure to let your Allergist/Immunologist that you are getting the test done because you have Psoriasis/Psoriatic Arthritis and you are interested in isolating foods that are triggering issues for you.  This will allow your testing specialist to be sure that they are including as wide a range of food allergens as possible.

One last route that has grown in popularity in the diet department is the juice fast.  If you have watched the movie "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" you will be familiar with this approach.  If you haven't click on the title and it will take you to Hulu to watch it for free.  This program is about resetting your immue system through flushing it out while consuming fresh juices.  It allows you to maximize vitamin and mineral intake and give your system a break from breaking down food.  The documentary is about the best way to get information about the program.  It's very informational and entertaining.  There is also a web site that is a companion to the movie that helps with following the plan called Reboot with Joe.  Again you need to be sure you discuss this program with your Doctors so that you are being tracked and having your vitals and blood work checked regularly to make sure you are doing this in a healthy way.


Some food components that are not actually a full diet program are to limit/eliminate nightshades.  These vegetables are believed to cause flares in many people with both Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.  WHFoods.com has a fairly extensive list of nightshades HERE, and LiveStrong.com discusses issues with nightshades and Psoriasis specifically HERE.  Many people also find eating anti inflammatory foods helpful.  DrWeil.com has an interactive food pyramid of anti inflammatory foods to give you a place to start.  I realize that some of the foods on the nightshades and anti inflammatory food chart are contradictory, and can make the process confusing, but this is an area that trial and error really comes into play.



One last thing to note is that drinking alcohol is generally considered to be bad for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.  Not only is it advised to stop drinking alcohol when you are taking many of the medications used to treat both diseases because they are very hard on the liver, but many people find it is a trigger for them.



Finally let me say that not everyone will find that adjustments in their diet will improve their Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis.  I fall into that category.  I have tried all the approaches talked about above and had no improvement in my diseases.  That being said I do believe that living our healthiest life possible is good for us.  Even if I don't avoid particular foods I do limit processed foods and eat whole foods for the majority of my meals.  I also try to eat a very well rounded diet with minimal sugars and red meat and a lot of vegetables and fruit.

Finding your food triggers can take months of trial and error, but you can do it at your own pace.  It doesn't have to be everything at once if you are not comfortable with that level of radical change.  Pick a few foods and start there.  Always be sure to keep your doctors aware of your process so they can support you by monitoring your health and possibly referring you to a Nutritionist to help you with the process.  Don't view this as losing all your favorite food choices.  It's just changing some of them and finding new favorites that don't disagree with your body.

I hope this helps you all find some places to start your search for diet changes that might help your life be better.