(BeWellBuzz) Healing is the body’s natural response to attacks. When we make specific food choices, or select herbs, oils, and tinctures, or get bodywork done, or pray, we seek to create an environment that empowers our body’s natural healing capabilities. For the most part, natural healing methods don’t target and attack foreign radicals messing with our wellness. Instead, we feed the cells and systems so our body can do its job of destroying or forcing out invaders, and causing health to overtake.
In the case of psoriasis, red, swollen patches appear where derma cells replicate at about ten times the normal rate, while pre-existing cells die off at the same old, slower pace. As a result, skin cells literally pile up to create the raised patches we see on the surface. The patches are most commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, buttocks and the backs of wrists.
Psoriasis might be hereditary, meaning it may be attributable to a genetic flaw causing abnormal cell replication. Yet, experts believe that a person can have the gene, and not experience the symptoms. Poor diet is considered among the root causes of psoriasis flare-ups. Further, deficiency of specific nutrients has been associated with the symptoms of psoriasis.
As with any health imbalance, the natural approach doesn’t simply attack the obvious symptoms, but assists the body in establishing balance. For psoriasis, there are five primary avenues of treatment, all of which are interrelated, and which must be done in cooperation. They are:
- Nutritive – nourish all the body’s cells, tissues and systems to strengthen defenses and empower health
- Digestive – ensure that the body can make fullest use of nutrients provided, and that waste is properly eliminated to avoid toxification
- Detoxifying – keep the tissues, systems and organs clear of buildup; be out with the old, and ensure that toxic substances are eliminated in the most efficient, painless way possible
- Reducing Inflammation – restore balance and proper function of immune system
- Reducing Stress – avoid and learn to process emotional stressors; eliminate allergens; and cut out substances the body does not tolerate well for a harmonious internal life
For this segment on healing psoriasis, we’ll take a look at specific nutritional deficiencies and how to reverse them.
Research has shown that people suffering with psoriasis symptoms are often deficient in zinc and vitamin A. Other vitamin deficiencies that are associated with skin ailments are vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin), and vitamin C.
As a part of your psoriasis relief plan, consider increasing your intake of these vital nutrients, the holistic way. Replace poor food choices such as fatty fried foods, processed foods with high sugar and/or refined flour content, and any refined grains such as white rice. All of the plant foods recommended below are rich in fiber, important for efficient elimination and to prevent toxicity. Eat lots of these nutrient dense foods in every, single, meal, including snacks.
Supplement wisely. If you’re taking any prescription drugs, consult with your physician before increasing intake of nutrients. Talk to your healthcare professional about your plans and ask for their advice about nutritional therapy for psoriasis.
Pay close attention to any changes immediately following supplementation, and over the course of several days after you’ve increased overall intake. Keeping a journal would be wise. Observe and record changes. Ask someone to observe patches on your scalp to watch for any change in color or swelling as you improve cellular nutrition.
Eat foods rich in zinc, enjoying a variety of sources including oysters; almonds, peanuts, cashews and their respective butters; oats; mushrooms; black, kidney and pinto beans; yogurt and organic eggs. Raw oysters contain the highest concentration of zinc.
Animal proteins such as grass fed beef and organic chicken breast provide higher amounts of zinc than plant sources; but, these proteins are harder to digest and may aggravate symptoms. You might want to avoid heavy animal proteins for a designated period and watch for any changes. Again, pay close attention.
Take a multi-vitamin that provides zinc. You can also take a zinc supplement but zinc nose sprays are NOT recommended. The daily requirement of zinc for men is estimated at 11mg, and for women, 8mg (more for pregnant and lactating women). However, the safe upper limit (UL) for zinc is quite higher, up to 40mg daily for all adults.
Zinc may interact with some medications including common antibiotics. If you’re taking prescription drugs, be sure to check with your doctor before supplementing with zinc. Zinc is usually not recommended in high dosages for unbroken extended periods. When purchasing a supplement, use as directed.
Vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin)
Rather than supplementing with isolated forms of the B vitamins, increase dietary intake, and consider taking the entire B-complex. B vitamins are water soluble, meaning your body will simply flush out excess in urine, so you needn’t be too afraid of overdosing. The adult UL for niacin is 35mg/day. There is no established UL for riboflavin.
Eat foods rich in the B vitamins. Again we have almonds, peanuts and their butters; mushrooms, yogurt, whole grains, beans and fish. B vitamins also help to nourish and calm the nervous system, helping to ease the stress that can aggravate psoriasis symptoms.
Vitamin A/Beta Carotene
Vitamin A should also be prevalent in your daily multi-vitamin, but while seeking to build up your body’s supply, you may want to ingest more. The daily recommended dose for vitamin A is 900mcg/3000IU for men, and 700mcg/2300IU for women (a little more for pregnant women). The daily vitamin A UL for adults is 3000mcg/10,000IU day. The safest way to increase this fat soluble vitamin is to eat whole foods rich in beta carotene, which is the non-toxic precursor to vitamin A. For the most part, beta carotene vitamin supplements are NOT highly recommended. If you’re considering a vitamin A/beta carotene supplement, check with your healthcare professional.
Most of us know that vegetables and fruits with red or orange pigment are high in beta carotene, but greens are also excellent sources.
For sweets, eat cantaloupe and apricots. To get a concentrated dose, drink a glass or two or three of vegetable juice each day. Carrots are still king for beta carotene, and carrot juice is not only refreshing but a concentrated source, which is rapidly absorbed into your thankful body. Eat pumpkin and, yes, pumpkin pie also will provide; sweet potatoes, collards, kale, spinach, turnip greens, beet greens, and cabbage. Raw is better. You can also juice these fresh and drink for a nice foamy mustache and happier skin cells.
You’d be hard-pressed to overdose on vitamin C.
Eat red and green sweet peppers; oranges; strawberries; grapefruits; lots and lots of greens like brussel sprouts and broccoli; eat cantaloupe; guavas, hot chili peppers, and herbs and spices such as parsley and thyme.
It’s best to consume vitamin C throughout the day instead of taking a single high dose, especially when supplementing.
Camu-camu might be the most health-boosting vitamin C food-supplement available, as it also contains other vital nutrients that help to build and protect healthy cells, reduce inflammation and prevent disease. There are a plethora of vitamin C supplements available as capsule, powder, drink, tablet and lozenge.
Omega-3 Fish Oils
Essential fatty acids are serious skin-allies. They help to reduce skin-irritating inflammation, and have been shown to ease symptoms from psoriasis.
Studies have shown that EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) may reduce flare-up symptoms of psoriasis considerably. Flax seeds also provide an omega-3, namely, linolenic acid, but the body then has to convert linolenic acid into EPA. If this conversion doesn’t happen efficiently, you might not experience the benefits on your skin. Therefore, flax oil and flax seeds are not a bad option, but the best option may be to eat lots of fish, especially fatty fish, and supplement with fish oil.
Foods to Avoid
Finally, and briefly, a challenged digestive system may also cause psoriasis flare-ups. At least for a time, you might want to avoid eating red meat, poultry, and milk. Incomplete protein digestion causes the formation of polyamines, toxins that cause excessive skin cell growth.
Alcohol is inflammatory and may also trigger a psoriasis flare-up. If you do have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, watch for any increase in symptoms. If a reaction does follow, alcohol is a likely culprit.