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Going Gluten-Free to Ease Psoriasis Symptoms

Going Gluten-Free to Ease Psoriasis Symptoms

Could managing psoriasis symptoms be as simple as removing a few items from your pantry? Probably not. But for people living with the itching, scaling, and redness characteristic of this skin condition, adopting a gluten-free diet may help reduce symptoms.

Gluten intolerance and psoriasis
In 2012, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published a report on the connection between gluten intolerance, celiac disease, and psoriasis. Researchers found that patients with psoriasis were 2x more likely to have celiac disease compared to those who didn’t have the skin condition.

Another report, published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology in 2011, found that one-third of psoriasis sufferers had the same antibody in their system that causes people with celiac disease to be unable to tolerate wheat protein. They also found that while psoriasis may be associated with gluten intolerance, it’s not necessarily a marker for the full-blown disease.

These are just two examples. Several others studies have also looked into the connection between psoriasis and autoimmune disorders, and came to similar conclusions—that there is a link between psoriasis and gluten.

So does that mean that a gluten-free diet could treat your uncomfortable psoriasis symptoms? Not necessarily. Several studies have suggested that going gluten-free could be beneficial to some people with the antibody who are also battling psoriasis, but more research is needed before they can say anything for sure.

The bottom line is that a gluten-free diet doesn’t cure psoriasis, and it doesn’t help everyone suffering with symptoms. However, there is enough evidence to indicate that for some people, going gluten-free can make a big difference in treatment, and with a go-ahead from your healthcare provider, it may be worth it to give it a try.

Getting Started with a Gluten-Free Diet
Going gluten-free involves more than tossing out all the bread in your cupboard. If you’ve decided that giving gluten the boot may be right for you, consider taking these steps:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider. Because people with psoriasis have been shown to have a higher prevalence of gluten intolerance, you might want to talk to your healthcare provider about being screened for gluten antibodies. It’s also important to remember that you should always consult a physician or nutritionist before starting any type of diet regimen.
  • Do it in stages. While there are tests that can be done to see if you have celiac disease, the only way to know if you’re intolerant to gluten is to begin removing it from your diet. But ditching gluten cold turkey can be difficult – and cause some unpleasant side effects such as iron deficiency, malnutrition and anxiety. Instead, opt to do it in stages. Remove all the stuff containing gluten from your kitchen first (look out for all the places gluten can hide, like cold cuts, soups, and soy sauce) and begin replacing them with fresh, non-processed fruits, veggies, and protein. Then begin incorporating other packaged foods labeled “gluten-free.”
  • Have a plan for eating out. It’s one thing to be gluten-free at home. But eating out at restaurants presents its own set of challenges. If you can, check out the menu beforehand, and seek out places that offer gluten-free options. Be your own advocate, too. Talking to the waiter and manager about your food restrictions can also go a long way.
  • Give it time. The effects of a gluten-free diet, including the potential easing of psoriasis symptoms, won’t be felt right away. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, it can take months for the inflammation to decrease. They recommend that you stick with it for at least three months, making sure to remove all gluten completely.
  • Don’t forego other parts of your treatment plan. If you’ve decided that going gluten-free is something you’d like to try, make sure you’re also continuing to implement the other parts of your psoriasis treatment plan—even if the diet seems to be working.

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