Food was a lot simpler a year ago. Back then, the only worries I had about eating or drinking anything was the effect it might have on my waistline. Even though I knew I was lactose intolerant, I chose to eat dairy on many occasions anyway – what’s a little bit of abdominal bloating when there’s ice cream cake to be had? Life is for living, people!!!!
Ever since I developed psoriasis, that attitude has completely changed. Monitoring the effects of alcohol on psoriasis, for one, has made me ration every sip of alcohol I consume. If I want to have this gin & tonic – I will pay for it later, in the form of itchy, red, flaky scales. How carefree were the days when the only thing keeping me back from another glass was the bar tab? Now when I have a couple of drinks on a night out, I mull over the decision for days afterwards.
Part 1: Psoriasis Update (skip to part 2 if you’re only interested in seeing the diet!)
Since I’ve stopped drinking beer cold turkey, I haven’t been developing many new spots. I no longer live in fear of waking up one day covered in hundreds of plaques. Of the 30 some plaques I currently have, a few have gone into remission and are barely noticeable, while others grow at sporadic rates. For example, in February, the spots on my legs were pretty dormant while the spots on my arms flared up. Now that it’s March, the spots on my legs have flared up again.
As someone who likes to plan for everything – it drives me absolutely up the wall when the spots randomly flare. What caused this latest flare-up? Was it something I ate or drank? If so, what could it possibly have been? Was it alcohol? Dairy? Gluten? Wheat? Seafood? Caffeine? Refined carbs? Nightshade vegetables? The literature concerning dietary psoriasis triggers is so varied in its recommendations that I can never make out what it is I’m supposed to not eat without avoiding all food (except maybe raw leafy greens), altogether.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve carefully monitored my body’s response to all kinds of alcohol and have come to the conclusion that a glass or two of red wine here and there is ok while sugary cocktails are definitely not ok.
Going vegan for a month didn’t help my psoriasis, but it also didn’t make it worse. Overdrinking in Mexico made my psoriasis worse but there was a clear culprit. I’m currently experiencing a flare-up, and that could be because I drank 6-8 drinks over my birthday weekend – but more and more I’m wondering if I’m flaring up not only because of the alcohol, but also because of the sugars in the sodas.
Since November 2016, the periods when I had the worst flare-ups followed a round of heavier-than-normal drinking. However, they also followed a period of eating a lot of sugary foods. Over Christmas, I had a lot of desserts and chocolate from the office. In Mexico, I had a lot of simple syrups in my drinks. Over my birthday week, I had a LOT of cake.
Out of all the potential triggers, I’m starting to believe that sugar is a potent one. A quick google search on ‘Sugar and Psoriasis’ turns up some promising scientific studies.
Basically it has been proven that Psoriasis is correlated with insulin resistance. Sugars (and also carbs) are broken into glucose when ingested, and our bodies release insulin hormones to process glucose. When someone is insulin resistant, this process doesn’t work efficiently, blood glucose is not processed and the body reacts by releasing more insulin.
A lot of the studies linking sugar consumption to psoriasis also involves obesity. The idea is that obesity and psoriasis are connected, and cutting out sugar definitely affects obesity (which in turn affects psoriasis). I’m not sure how this will translate for me because I’m not obese and I exercise regularly. Will cutting out sugars show a huge improvement? I guess we’ll have to try it out and see.
Part 2: The No Sugar Diet, a self study
Objective: I’m going to investigate whether cutting out simple carbohydrates and sugars will lead to a reduction in psoriasis inflammation.
Methods: The most effective diet I’ve been on which eliminated sugars completely was the Wild Rose Detox I did back in November. The diet plan on this detox eliminated all dairy (except eggs), all refined sugars, most fruit (except apples, pears, plums/peaches, and berries), and all flour products. Some psoriasis patients take it one step further and cut out carby vegetables in addition to sugars. (corn, potatoes, etc) For now, I’ll stick to completely cutting the sugars and refined carbs for two weeks.
Foods I’m allowed to eat on this diet:
Berries (including Cherries, which are technically a stone fruit)
Basically all vegetables
Animal products and protein: (no more than 20% of total diet, with the exception of fish which is as much as you want)
(Most whole grains – also 20% of diet max)
Herbs to season
Coffee (2 cups max)
If it’s not in the list, I can’t eat it. But it doesn’t seem too bad, right? If I’ve learnt anything from the first time I tried this detox, it’s that I will miss condiments a lot.
I’m going to stick to this diet strictly for 14 days and see if there’s a difference. At the end of the 14 days, I’ll check in and evaluate where I want to go from that point. At that point – I might add back in one food group at a time to see if it has any negative impact.
Weight Loss: I’m at 111.8lbs at the start of this diet. Eating this clean should result in some weight loss.