Dr. Amelie
4 Aug 2023

What is the role of diet in modifying inflammatory diseases like psoriasis and eczema?

The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce inflammation and inflammatory markers such as CRP and IL-6 . Although there are no studies available that looked at the benefit of the Mediterranean diet in patients with eczema, there is evidence that patients with psoriasis benefit from this diet.  The Mediterranean diet is characterised by a high proportion of vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, nuts, fish and extra-virgin olive oil. It’s thought to benefit from a synergistic effect of having a combination of nutrient-rich foods together. Even though there are no randomised controlled clinical trials studying the effect of Mediterranean diet in eczema patients, it makes sense to steer patients with inflammatory skin conditions toward a diet like this because there is little downside to it. This advice can be applied safely and at low cost. Moreover, there are other better-known health benefits to the Mediterranean diet.

The American diet

The American diet tends to be high in omega-6s, excess consumption of which can put the body in a pro-inflammatory state. Omega-6s are found in oils such as safflower and sunflower oil, corn oil, vegetable oils and all products containing these oils. Large quantities should be avoided. Instead focus on consuming foods rich in omega-3s; essential fatty acids which are known to be anti-inflammatory and are found in walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocados and oily fish such as sardines, anchovies, wild salmon.

Do not just focus on nutrient-rich foods though. Have a look at your whole diet to see how food affects inflammation in both a positive and negative way — and avoid large quantities of certain foods that are bad for you. Processed foods, fried foods, sugar, gluten, white bread, white pasta and vegetable oils are thought to be pro-inflammatory.

It’s also important to mention that obesity is a strong risk factor for putting your body in an inflammatory state, and weight loss is a critical factor to reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that weight loss results in reduction of pro-inflammatory markers.

Dr. Amèlie Seghers

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