Monday, June 24, 2013

A Low-Calorie Diet May Improve Psoriasis

Putting psoriasis patients on a low-calorie diet may improve quality of life and reduce severity of the disease, according to a recent study.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease characterized by raised, red, scaly patches on the skin. It typically affects the skin outside of the elbows and knees, the scalp, lower back, face, palms and the soles of feet, although it can occur anywhere. Psoriasis varies from person to person, both in severity and how it responds to treatments.

The study, conducted by the Copenhagen University Hospital in Gentofte, Denmark, compared the diets of 60 people with a body mass index (BMI) between 27 and 40 over 16 weeks. Half the participants were randomly assigned to a low-energy diet consisting of 800 to 1,000 calories per day for eight weeks, followed by a 1,200-calorie diet for the following eight weeks. The other half of the participants were instructed to eat normally throughout the study.

The authors discovered a correlation between weight loss and the decrease in severity of psoriasis symptoms, noting the most significant change occurred during the first eight weeks of the study. Participants on the low-calorie diet also experienced a statistically significant reduction in insulin and plasma glucose levels, key obesity indicators, compared to the control group.

Researchers suggest several possible explanations for the improvement in psoriasis symptoms after weight loss. One theory is that both obesity and psoriasis are linked to chronic inflammation, which can cause symptoms such as swelling, body aches and pains and skin outbreaks. Another explanation is that the medication used by some the participants on the low-calorie diet might have become more efficient as they lost weight and achieved a higher, more effective dose.

While previous studies have noted possible association between psoriasis and obesity, this study was the first rigorous trial to evaluate the direct correlation between weight loss and the severity of psoriasis.

Summer is actually a good season for many who suffer from psoriasis because warmth, humidity and sunshine can temporarily heal lesions. Although the sun can be beneficial for psoriatic skin, people with this skin condition should still use sunscreen to defend against UVA and UVB rays. Getting sunburned can trigger skin flare-ups, so Dr. Miller recommends looking for sunscreen products formulated for atopic skin with an SPF of at least 30. If you’re experiencing a flare-up, stay out of the sun completely, as heat and sun can intensify inflammation.

Dr. Miller also recommends avoiding wearing synthetic fibers and Lycra during the summer months. Instead, opt for loose clothing made of soft fibers, such as cotton, to avoid irritating the skin. Shoes and sandals should also be open and roomy.

In 95 percent of cases, healthcare providers can make a psoriasis diagnosis just by visual inspection. If you think you are suffering from this skin condition, call Greenville Dermatology to schedule an appointment today.

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