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Could the Mediterranean Diet Help With Psoriasis Symptoms?

It will be great if more studies support a recent study finding that eating a Mediterranean style diet is associated with fewer psoriasis symptoms. The large study, which was conducted in France, found an inverse association with the Mediterranean diet - the more closely a person ate a Mediterranean diet, the less severe their psoriasis symptoms and the lower their serum C-reactive protein levels (which measures chronic systemic inflammation). Key things to remember are that psoriasis is an inflammatory condition and the Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory, and the typical Western diet is inflammatory (low in fiber, lots of highly processed foods, few fruits and vegetables, high in sugar, and red meat) .

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, legumes (beans), fish, and light on red meat. Research finds that micronutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols that are present in the Mediterranean diet reduce chronic systemic inflammation.  The Mediterranean diet has other health benefits - for example, it's good for the heart, is good for gut microbes, and linked to lower rates of several cancers. From Medical Xpress:

Could psoriasis patients eat their way to fewer symptoms?

A study of more than 3,500 French psoriasis patients found that the healthier their diet, the less severe their symptomsSpecifically, the closer an individual adhered to the nutritious "Mediterranean" diet, the less onerous their psoriasis became. This was true regardless of whether or not the patient was obese, the French researchers noted. 

The Mediterranean diet is heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil and nuts, and light on red meat, dairy and alcohol. It's long been recommended as "heart healthy" by groups such as the American Heart Association. Now, the new research bolsters the notion that the regimen might also help fight immune-system disorders such as psoriasis.

The new study was based on data from a nationwide health survey of citizens in France, involving almost 36,000 respondents. More than 3,500 of them had some form of psoriasis, said the team led by Dr. Celine Phan, of Henri Mondor University Hospital in Creteil, France. Besides asking psoriasis patients about the severity of their symptoms, the survey also gauged how closely they approached the ideal Mediterranean diet. Participants were divided into three groups—a "bottom" third whose diets were furthest away from the Mediterranean diet, a middle third whose eating habits were moving closer to the diet, and a top third who were closest to the Mediterranean diet.

Compared to people in the bottom third, those in the middle and top groups were 29 percent and 22 percent less likely to have severe symptoms, Phan's group found.

The researchers stressed that the study couldn't prove cause and effect. For example, it might not be that the Mediterranean diet itself somehow eases symptoms, but instead that its opposite—the fatty, sugary "Western" diet—exacerbates psoriasis. But the investigators pointed to research that the inflammatory-dampening Mediterranean diet might have direct, healthy effects on the lymphoid (immune) system or the "microbiome" of healthful germs in the human gut.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in vitamins A, D, E, folate and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which have an anti-inflammatory effect, the research team said. In contrast, it's long been known that Western diets set up an unhealthy, pro-inflammatory state in the body.

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