What Psoriasis is?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes red, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin. Patches can form anywhere on the body but typically occur on the inside of the elbows, knees, and scalp.
How common your flare-ups are and the impact they have on your life depends on the severity of your psoriasis. Although psoriasis is unpredictable, it doesn’t have to control your life or affect your self-esteem. Connecting with others who live with psoriasis can motivate and encourage you, plus offer a high level of support. A strong network can give you the strength you need to cope with.
Where Psoriasis is coming from?
Psoriasis is caused, at least in part, by the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells. If you’re sick or battling an infection, your immune system will go into overdrive to fight the infection. This might start another psoriasis flare-up.
How to treat Psoriasis?
Up until now, there is still no cure for Psoriasis. This is an autoimmune disease that usually tells us that there is a change needed in our daily life.
There are several known triggers for psoriasis flare-ups:
Stress can play a bigger role than people usually imagine. The more stress we feel, the more our bodies are trying to fight against it. This can accelerate flare-ups. Therefore, for people who have autoimmune diseases, a balanced lifestyle is the key to trying to minimize the symptoms of these diseases.
Alcohol is one of the triggers for psoriasis. Heavy drinking has been linked to both an increase in the risk and the severity of psoriasis, particularly in men. Having psoriasis can be very stressful and drinking alcohol to relieve this stress can be very tempting, however, having more than one or two drinks in a day may very likely cause your psoriasis to become more severe and spread to larger areas on your skin. Do not drink alcohol while taking certain medications to treat psoriasis. Alcohol can be very dangerous for patients taking methotrexate. Consult your Forefront Dermatologist if you have questions about the medication you are taking and whether it is safe to drink alcohol.
Smoking is yet another main trigger that can cause bursts of psoriasis. According to doctors, the ingredients in tobacco smoke may cause a type of cell damage called oxidative damage. This may be why smoking makes psoriasis worse. Additionally, for people who have a genetic tendency for psoriasis, smoking may trigger the genes to become active. People who smoke may also have more stress, and stress is a trigger for psoriasis.
With more and more research happening every year, scientists are discovering that what we eat is becoming more important than ever before. Although in-depth research and its results still need to be published, many people around the world who have psoriasis symptoms are claiming that the relationship with food is the biggest trigger for psoriasis flare-ups.
My personal psoriasis journey
More than 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with psoriasis. Back then I did not know much about it except that my father had it. Like anyone else, who starts getting psoriasis, I went to the dermatologist and began the treatments with one of the most popular solutions out there: topical creams. It helped for a little bit but after several weeks, psoriasis was coming back. It almost felt like it was keep coming back every time stronger. Not knowing what to do and seeing that dermatologist is no help, I started learning more about psoriasis and where it was coming from. My biggest realization was when I realized that psoriasis is not a skin disease! How come you may be asking? As you can clearly see the symptoms of psoriasis expressed in our bodies through appearances on the skin, these are only the symptoms. Therefore, a dermatologist can help you treat only that. But the problem lays deeper than your skin.
More and more articles are writing that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which in my opinion is more correct than calling it a skin condition. By doing my research, to my surprise, I learnt that our immune system is “made” in our gut. Do you start seeing the connection here? Psoriasis = autoimmune disease = immune is in the gut.
This equation is something I have been trying to solve for a couple of months now. It is actually more simple than it sounds. In order to prevent psoriasis flare-ups or have them as minimum as possible, we need to understand our relationship with food and what suits us and what is not?
For almost two months I am trying to build a new relationship with food. You can see in my Youtube video the scaling is way less and flare-ups are minimal.
Here are my personal tips what to do in order to control psoriasis:
For almost a year now, except very occasional Saturday or Sunday afternoon once per month, I stopped drinking coffee on the regular basis. That helped me to have more balanced mornings & evenings. I do not tend to stay awake up until very late and do not have any issues while sleeping. Waking up and getting out of bed becomes so easy and the best part of it - I don’t crave coffee to wake up! I am fully awake from the moment I open my eyes.
My love-hate relationship with wheat started a couple of years ago when back then I was trying to lose some weight. I knew for a very long time that processed carbohydrates were not good at all. The problem with keep coming back at eating them was the taste and texture that is designed to be addictive. I only started taking it more seriously, once I noticed the direct relation between eating products that are made with wheat or rye and psoriasis. The scaling and flaking would intensify a couple of days later after eating something that contains those ingredients. I also noticed that I have way more energy and focus by avoiding them. By now I found loads of alternatives: instead of bread, I eat rice or corn crackers (recently discovered new crackers that are made from lentils). If I crave pasta - I use gluten-free pasta made from corn or lentils. Pizza? They make gluten-free broccoli flavor based pizzas. You have alternatives, without compromising your favorites meals - you just need to learn about them.
Stop mixing fruit! There is a trend going on of cleansing juices and various multi-smoothies. However, many studies have shown that we cannot mix multiple different fruits at the same time. It has to do with the acidity of the fruit. Various fruit has different levels of acidity, therefore it takes different amounts of time to digest it. Fermentation in your body causes inflammation that leads to intensified bursts of psoriasis.
This is a big one to process probably. Since we were little children, we have been told the same old story that dairy products are essential to our bonus and overall physique. Different studies have shown that consuming dairy products causes inflammations in our bodies. Therefore again, it can cause and intensify the flare-ups of psoriasis.
I gave up dairy already since I became vegan in April 2020. I have noticed within a couple of weeks from that time that bursts are completely different. If they start, they last for a very short time and the affected areas are lesser.
Since the 1st of January, I have decided to give my body some rest from drinking alcohol. I wanted to see if not drinking for the entire year will have an influence directly on psoriasis. It has been 10 months now and I absolutely feel that not drinking alcohol improved a lot of other things in my life as well as my wallet but I would not say that amount of alcohol I was using would have a big difference for my psoriasis. But you need to try yourself in order to understand it.
I don’t smoke for almost 2 years now and I feel great about it. However, I still have psoriasis on my body, therefore I would not say it has a big difference for me. Except of course all other health benefits!
My biggest learnings
So far being on this journey for 3 years now I realized that experiencing stress and eating not the right food for me have the biggest impact on my condition. This journey is for sure ups and downs but I do feel I am going in the right direction. Combining the right food for me, finding out the healthier alternatives, learning about nutrition, combining with sports, and taking regular time off really helps me to find the better, more satisfying way of living. Achieving these little victories on the daily basis helps to see psoriasis slowly but surely going away.
What is your experience with psoriasis? How do you treat it? What works for you? Let me know in the comments!