Unbelievable results of one lady’s determination to seek answers
My Psoriasis has taken over my life : Meet Claire. (Not her real name)
In late 2020 I saw a young lady who was seeking some options for weight management and was considering surgery.She had early diabetes but that was not her worry. She also had significant Psoriasis. Her front and her back were riddled with these red angry patches and I felt sorry to hear how frustrated she was having tried so many medications with little success. She thought she would be better off now trying to focus on her weight as that was becoming a problem for her too.
We planned her surgery in a few months after extensive pre surgical investigations. She recovered well after her gastric bypass and came for her first post op review. Thanksfully her Psoriasis had not flared and she was of course apprehensive about this.
I next saw Claire three months later for her second visit…. and I could not believe it. She had not only lost weight, her skin had started to glow again. Her Psoriasis was much settled and her diabetes was significantly improved. In her words “This is the best my Psoriasis has been in years… and I haven’t been using any medications either!”
I was overjoyed for her. Because, I intuitively knew that loosing the excess weight (even though it is early days for Claire) would help not only her diabetes but also her Psoriasis.
That day I felt overjoyed. And recognised the impact of what the potential of this journey could mean. Claire and I made a deal that I am going to educate and support her on bringing lifestyle changes while she continues to follow up with her dermatologist (Skin specialist) for the Psoriasis.
Are Psoriasis and Obesity linked?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes itchy, bumpy patches covered with scales. These patches are usually red on lighter skin tones and purple or salmon-colored on darker skin tones.
Psoriasis scales can grow anywhere on your body but most often appear on joints, such as elbows and knees.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition caused by the rapid buildup of dead cells on your skin’s surface.
There are many triggers and risk factors for Psoriasis as I will list below. Obesity is one of them and having Psoriasis may cause weight gain too.
Does obesity increase the chances of having psoriasis?
The exact link between psoriasis and obesity isn’t clear, but obesity is a well-known risk factor for Psoriasis. Moreover, weight gain can make Psoriasis symptoms worse. To understand why this happens, let’s take a look inside your body.
Fat tissue and psoriasis
To communicate with each other, your cells and tissues release signaling molecules called cytokines. Cytokines are similar to hormones, but they are usually smaller.
Like hormones, cytokines go into your bloodstream where they can quickly reach all parts of your body. Your fat tissue releases a special type of cytokines, called adipokines. The more fat your body has, the more adipokines get released into your bloodstream. Some of these adipokines can trigger inflammation that leads to autoimmune conditions, including psoriasis.
Role of the GUT microbiome
Another important link between obesity and Psoriasis is your gut microbiome, or all the microbes like bacteria, viruses, or fungi that live inside your body and on your skin. It turns out that weight gain can affect the microbiome. Changes in the microbiome can play a role in Psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions.
Does Psoriasis increase the chances of obesity?
Some studies have suggested that psoriasis can cause weight gain. People with Psoriasis often have more fat tissue than people without this condition.
Although the exact reason for this isn’t known, researchers think it may be because psoriasis can trigger depression. Depression, in turn, can affect eating and exercise habits, which may lead to obesity.
Does losing weight affect Psoriasis?
Losing weight can have a major positive impact on Psoriasis.
A 2018 review of 14 studies concluded that weight loss through diet and exercise can decrease both the severity and size of psoriasis patches. Moreover, weight loss can make Psoriasis medications more effective.
But can weight loss prevent Psoriasis? We don’t know the answer to this yet.
However, a diet can help you prevent psoriasis flare-ups. Some foods may worsen Psoriasis, such as:
Consider avoiding or limiting these foods when possible to help prevent future psoriasis flare-ups.
What you can do if you have Psoriasis and obesity
You might be keen to watch this video on My Top 3 tips on Weight Loss
Losing weight is not an easy task. However, losing even 5 to 10 kilos can have a great effect on your Psoriasis. Here are some steps you can take to manage your weight and possibly improve your psoriasis.
Exercise works in two ways to manage psoriasis. First, it helps you burn calories, which helps with weight management and weight loss. Second, it can reduce the levels of inflammatory adipokines in your blood.
Both these things may help with Psoriasis symptoms, but they also reduce your chances of health problems linked to psoriasis. There aren’t any special routines you need to know when exercising to improve Psoriasis. Your goal is to keep moving and have fun with it — it’s important to find an exercise you enjoy. If you are new to exercise, start slow and take one step at a time.
Remember that too much exercise can be detrimental because it can increase stress, and stress aggravates psoriasis.
Read more about tips for exercising with psoriasis.
Eating a balanced diet can help manage and improve Psoriasis. This means eating nutrient-dense foods from a variety of whole-food sources.
Even if a balanced diet doesn’t result in weight loss, it’s still beneficial. Research shows that what you eat can improve or worsen your Psoriasis independently of weight loss.
In addition to a balanced diet and regular exercise, there are other things you can do to improve psoriasis symptoms:
- Limit or avoid alcohol
- If you smoke, quit
- Manage your stress levels
- Get screened for related conditions
If you find making certain lifestyle changes difficult, like reducing alcohol intake or quitting smoking, reach out to your doctor for help. They can help you come up with plan that works for you. Don’t hesitate to ask for support.
There is a strong link between Psoriasis and obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for Psoriasis, and Psoriasis can cause weight gain. Losing even a few pounds can improve Psoriasis symptoms. Regular exercise, certain types of foods, and other lifestyle changes can help you feel better.
Psoriasis and Weight Gain https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28226326/
New insights into different adipokines in linking the pathophysiology of obesity and psoriasis. 10.1186/s12944-019-1115-3
Psoriasis: Obesity and Fatty Acids 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01807
Effects of Weight Loss on Psoriasis: A Review of Clinical Trials 10.7759/cureus.3491
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About Dr Arun:
Dr Arun Dhir is a Melbourne based GastroIntestinal andBariatric Surgeon. He has a b usy private practice that has a strong focus in the area of obesity management and gut health. Dr Arun’s current research is on the changes in gut microbiome after obesity surgery and on reflux disease. He has also written several books and has published several articles in scientific journals. Arun’s published works include Happy Gut Healthy Weight (Balboa Press 2018), “Creating a New You – Health Journal” (Metagenics 2019), and Your Mess Has a Message (2021).
Dr Arun is also a Yoga and Meditation teacher that allows him to better understand and assist his clients with the mind-body-gut connection. He regularly writes and speaks about gut health, gut microbiome, obesity, gastrointestinal surgery and healing.
Dr Arun’s life vision is to bridge the art of Eastern healing and the science of Western medicine through education and research.
Arun loves cycling, hiking and playing drums. He also serves in the Royal Australian Army as a General Surgeon.
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