Top nutritionists and health experts share their tips on how to calm flare ups
2 percent of people in the UK, psoriasis is caused by an increased production of skin cells. A mild irritation for some of inflamed, red and sore patches of dry skin covered in silvery scales, for others the chronic illness can greatly affect their quality of life. The largest global psoriasis survey has revealed that a staggering 84 percent of sufferers feel they face discrimination and humiliation due to their skin, and more than half don’t believe that clear or even almost-clear skin is a realistic goal. In light of this shocking revelation, and in collaboration with World Psoriasis Day (29th October), we’ve compiled top tips from the nutritionists and health experts on ways to prevent and cope with flare ups.
Sticking to a healthy diet is one of the easiest ways to improve your skin and overall wellbeing. Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at superfoodUK.com explains: “Junk foods very often come with ingredients that may aggravate skin problems and worsen inflammation – including additives, sugar and excess salt. They are also usually high in quickly digested and absorbed carbohydrates (think white bread, pastries and crisps), which can upset natural flora in our gut as well as blood sugar and hormone balance, all of which can greatly affect skin problems.”
If your immune system is weak you can see it in your skin. Almost 70 percent of our immune system is based in the gut so it’s worth giving it a little extra love. “If you are suffering from constipation, IBS or ‘leaky gut’, toxins we consume are often reabsorbed into the system, causing increased inflammation in the body which can lead to psoriasis flare ups,” explains Shona. To keep the gut healthy, up your intake of probiotics to help regulate the immune system. “The skin is also closely connected to the gut and supporting gut function can help to reduce skin outbreaks,” says nutritionist Cassandra Barns. “There are a number of studies linking the use of probiotics to positive outcomes for eczema, acne, psoriasis, rosacea and anti-ageing. To support your skin include fermented foods in your diet, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso soup.”
“It is not yet fully understood as to why sunlight can rid psoriasis, however it is one of the most effective treatments,” states Lily Soutter, nutritionist and weight loss expert at lilysoutternutrition.com. “Psoriasis can sometimes clear within a couple of days of sun exposure however it’s important to avoid the hot midday sun and burning as this can worsen the condition. Exposure of 15 minutes a day in morning or late afternoon sun is enough to reap the benefits,” she adds. If you’re not lucky enough to still be enjoying the heat, the main benefit of sunshine is vitamin D which we have access to all year around. Shona says: “Vitamin D can change the way cells grow. As those who suffer from psoriasis tend to produce more skin cells, it can slow this process down and cause the plaques to become thinner and less scaley.”
Many celebrities credit their good skin to a diet full of Omega 3 and 6. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (Amazon, £7.17) says: “To correct this balance, cut out all vegetable oils and margarines (as well as processed food) and replace it with healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee. Aim to eat oily fish such as sardines, salmon or mackerel at least three times a week. For additional support, it may be helpful to take a good quality omega-3 fish oil supplement such as Natural Health Practice Omega 3 Support, £27.77”.
Many doctor recommended emollient creams rarely provide long-term relief. They can even irritate already inflamed skin as they often contain chemicals, such as chlorocresol and cetearyl alcohol. The best way to combat psoriasis symptoms is to use an organic cream or balm that can help soothe your skin with natural ingredients. “When looking for topical creams and balms make sure you look for organic formulas that are designed to reduce irritation and have properties that can repair the skin,” says Sonja Dymalovski, skincare expert at What Skin Needs. “I would use a balm that contains natural oils that have anti-inflammatory properties like plantolin, aloe vera and tea tree oil”. Why not try What Skin Needs Skin Balm, £13.99
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