Lifestyle Changes to Make in the Fight Against Psoriasis

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Kemas kini Tarikh 27/10/2020 . 5 minit bacaan
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Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease which manifests as skin lesions. Although there is no cure at present, it can be managed effectively through the use of medicines prescribed by a doctor as well as lifestyle changes to suppress inflammation and prevent psoriasis from flaring up. Yes, switching up your daily routine helps, folks. Here are some of the lifestyle changes you can make to keep psoriasis in check whilst helping you to perform daily activities with less discomfort.

Manage Stress Through Meditation 

The link between stress and psoriasis is undeniable as the former has been perceived as one of the likely causes of inflammation in your body, which in turn results in skin flare-ups. It is of utmost importance that you take the necessary steps to alleviate stress, starting with meditation which has been touted as one of the most effective (and totally free) methods to do so.[1] In fact, studies have shown that meditating for a brief period of time daily can relieve your body of stress and ease anxiety as well. 

A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience concluded that meditation practices, which included yoga and tai chi, were capable of altering the levels of cytokines (proteins involved in the inflammatory processes) in the body.[2] Researchers found that those who consistently practiced exercises involving both the mind and body produced lower amounts of pro – inflammatory cytokines.[2] This resulted in a reduced risk of psoriasis in these individuals.  

Reevaluate Your Daily Eating Habits

Taking baby steps today can result in giant strides towards better health tomorrow. While this may be somewhat a general belief on maintaining good health, it particularly rings true for individuals suffering from psoriasis. This is because making small tweaks in your diet can actually help you to subdue the skin disease and its accompanying symptoms. 

Some of these proven methods include eating more vegetables, replacing white bread and rice for whole grains, or doing away with processed foods altogether.[3] In addition to that, avoiding foods which contain saturated fats, trans fats and excessive amounts of salt has also been considered one of the best ways to prevent inflammation in your body.[3] 

Alternatively, incorporating a diet focused on weight loss is also beneficial for keeping psoriasis under control.[3] The reason for this is because obesity has been linked to an increased risk of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, besides reducing the effectiveness of medications. A few ways in which you can switch up your diet may include eating more fish, lean meat, fruits, and vegetables, as well as consuming fat-free or low-fat dairy products.[3] Coupled with a disciplined fitness routine, you will not only be able to lose weight, but ease life with psoriasis, boost the effectiveness of your medicines, and lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases as well. 

Sweat Your Way to Better Psoriasis Control

For individuals suffering from psoriasis, incorporating exercise can be tough as visible plaques, scaly, and flaky skin can make you uncomfortable and self-conscious, especially if you hit the gym. The only motivation you need to make this a daily priority is to realise its role in improving overall mood, lowering stress and keeping your weight under control.[1] 

In addition to that, regular exercise can also reduce your risk of other diseases associated with psoriasis such as cardiovascular diseases[4] and type 2 diabetes.[5] If heading to the gym still makes you uncomfortable, fret not. There are plenty of other ways to get a good workout, which includes going on a trail run, cycling around your neighbourhood, or even following a workout video routine within the confines of your own home. 

Choose the Right Body and Skincare Products

If you suffer from psoriasis, using certain types of skincare products may actually do more harm than good to your skin. These include deodorant soaps and body scrubs, which should be avoided at all costs.6 Similarly, other body products which should be avoided include those which contain fragrances, dyes, and chemicals as they can dry out the skin, causing a burning sensation and redness.[6] The use of moisturising ointments can help you do away with scaly skin and itching.[6]   

When applying make-up to your skin, you should always ensure that the products used are labelled as “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic”.[6] “Non-comedogenic” refers to products which are specially formulated to not clog pores upon application, while “non-acnegenic” refers to products which are formulated to not cause acne for those with acne-prone skin. Similarly, using skincare products which are alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic are also suitable for individuals with psoriasis as they tend to be less irritating on the skin than their more abrasive counterparts.

Doing Away with Smoking Cigarettes 

Cigarette smoking has been associated with psoriasis for the longest time, with nicotine being the perceived link between the two. This is because nicotine alters the immune system, increasing its risk of attacking and killing normal tissues instead of foreign invaders, resulting in chronic inflammation that leads to psoriasis. Apart from that, other ingredients contained in cigarettes have been said to cause a type of cell damage called oxidative damage, which can worsen psoriasis. 

Quitting smoking permanently can provide a host of benefits when it comes to keeping psoriasis in check.[7] Firstly, it will enable increased responsiveness of certain individuals to psoriasis-treating medicines.[7] Secondly, it reduces their risk of developing other diseases which are associated with psoriasis such as Crohn’s disease or diseases which affect the heart, liver, stomach and pancreas.[8] It is also able to promote a better chance of psoriasis remission, which are periods involving little or no skin flare-ups.[9]

Psoriasis may be a long-term skin condition that could come and go at any time during a person’s lifetime. While a number of different environmental and lifestyle factors could trigger a flare-up, gaining an understanding of these triggers and making the necessary lifestyle changes can help you improve your symptoms, making it easier for you to live with the condition.

1.“Stress and Psoriatic Disease”. National Psoriasis Foundation, www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/stress

2. Cahn, B. R., et al. “Yoga, Meditation and Mind-Body Health: Increased BDNF, Cortisol Awakening Response, and Altered Inflammatory Marker Expression after a 3-Month Yoga and Meditation Retreat.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 1 June 2017, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00315/full

3. “Anti-Inflammatory Diet”. National Psoriasis Foundation, www.psoriasis.org/treating-psoriasis/complementary-and-alternative/diet-and-nutrition/anti-inflammatory-diet .  

4. Line Raaby et al. “Psoriasis and cardiovascular events: Updating the evidence”. 17 February 2017, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28213804/

5.Meng-Sui Lee et al. “Increased risk of diabetes mellitus in relation to the severity of psoriasis, concomitant medication, and comorbidity: a nationwide population-based cohort study”. 9 January 2014, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24411084/

6. Naftulin, J. “13 Lifestyle Changes That Help Fight Psoriasis.”, 12 Sept. 2017, www.health.com/condition/psoriasis/13-lifestyle-changes-that-help-fight-psoriasis.

7. Naldi, L. (2016, May 27). “Psoriasis and smoking: Links and risks”. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5683129/

8. Berkowitz, L., et al. “Impact of Cigarette Smoking on the Gastrointestinal Tract Inflammation: Opposing Effects in Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.” 30 January 2018,.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5797634/

9. “How cigarettes and alcohol affect psoriasis”. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/how-cigarettes-and-alcohol-affect-psoriasis 

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