Why Losing Weight May Help You Manage Psoriasis

For psoriasis patients who are overweight or obese, losing weight may lead to fewer symptoms.

Why Losing Weight May Help You Manage Psoriasis

Maybe you're overweight and have been thinking about starting the journey to a healthier, slimmer you. But if you also live with psoriasis, there's even more of a reason to jump on that weight loss train: It may help ease your uncomfortable symptoms. Because psoriasis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease, carrying excess weight worsens the skin irritation and inflammation that accompanies the skin condition. Experts suggest that weight loss may help lower obesity-induced inflammation, in turn relieving psoriasis.

How Exactly Does Weight Affect Psoriasis?
It’s not entirely known, but there is a clear link between the two. Studies have shown that people who are overweight are more likely to develop psoriasis, and that risk keeps rising as body mass index (BMI) increases. On the other hand, losing weight seems to lessen symptoms.

In one study published in British Journal of Dermatology in 2014, people who lost weight on a 20-week diet and exercise plan saw so much improvement in their psoriasis that some experts said the benefit would be considered impressive even for powerful psoriasis medications. Still more research has shown that losing weight can help boost the effectiveness of psoriasis treatment, and there have even been case reports of people whose psoriasis cleared up completely after they had weight-loss surgery. 

To add more fuel to the benefits-of-weight-loss-flame, psoriasis -- not just obesity -- increases the risk of several chronic health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes. This is just another reason why being in control of your weight is so important not only for your overall health, but for the long-term management of psoriasis, too.

Tips to Fuel Your Weight Loss Efforts
Looking to embark on a more active lifestyle and slash those pounds to reduce your psoriasis symptoms? In addition to checking in with your doctor to discuss a weight-loss plan that’s right for you, use these three tips to help get you started.

  1. Fit in fitness – gradually. If exercise isn’t a part of your daily routine, it’s best to start off slowly and work your way up. Gentle activities like walking, yoga and bicycling may be easiest, especially if you have psoriatic arthritis. Get the tips to start exercising today.
  2. Make over your eating habits. Because of the inflammatory nature of psoriasis, experts often recommend an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce flare-ups. The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) recommends a diet heavy in lean meats, fruits, veggies and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Steer clear of refined sugars, processed foods and red meats, which may actually contribute to inflammation.
  3. Set manageable weight loss goals. Instead of telling yourself that you want to drop 50 pounds ASAP, start off with a goal that’s easier to attain. Aim for something reasonable, like losing 1-2 pounds per week. Taking it step by step helps you keep the motivation so you don’t lose steam too quickly. 

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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