Finding treatment that works to eliminate the symptoms of psoriasis can be a challenge as any sufferer of psoriasis will tell you because there isn’t currently a cure for psoriasis. This means that in your quest to find treatment that works, you will have to try various remedies and hope that at least one of them will work. One of the ways that people look to is diet and some have found relief by eliminating gluten from their diet. What is the relationship between gluten and psoriasis and how can this help you in your fight against the symptoms of psoriasis?
What is gluten?
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, spelt, kamut and rye. Gluten intolerance also known as celiac disease or celiac sprue affects many although many of them are unaware that they are allergic to gluten. Celiac disease leads to intestinal misery when gluten is consumed even in small amounts.
Being allergic to certain foods such as gluten, results from antibodies (immunoglobin E) in the immune system or immune cells (lymphocytes) in the GI tract which are designed to protect the body from foreign invaders, which in this case are particular foods like gluten.
This leads to issues metabolizing or digesting these foods leading to cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and other serious issues. Unfortunately food allergies cannot be cured or prevented and the only treatment that works is to eliminate the offending food like gluten, dairy, nuts, shellfish, eggs, etc.
Having a sensitivity to gluten i.e. celiac disease, can damage the small intestine and can even be life threatening. Even small amounts of gluten can damage millions of villi which are the fingerlike projections that line the small intestine and contain the many digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients and fluids. People with celiac disease may also be unable to drink milk or consume cheese because they lack the enzyme (lactase) needed to digest a type of sugar found in dairy known as lactose although yogurt is a good alternative because it contains healthy bacteria which are able to digest lactose.
Celiac disease is also associated with a blistery skin rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis which is also itchy. While oats do not contain any gluten, they can be an issue for people with this disease when oats come in contact with grains that contain gluten during processing or storage.
The connection between gluten and psoriasis is still unclear but some research has shown that those with celiac disease are at an increased risk of developing psoriasis. While no studies show a direct link between psoriasis and gluten, some sufferers have found that after eliminating gluten, their skin improved so this is something to consider if you suffer from psoriasis and are contemplating making diet changes.
Some sufferers have also noted that consuming yeast containing products seemed to worsen the symptoms of psoriasis so it definitely wouldn’t hurt to try eliminating wheat or other gluten containing products to see whether your skin improves.
Besides all the grains mentioned, it is important to be aware that gluten may be found in some processed foods. Some list gluten as an ingredient especially in lunch meats, yogurt that contains fruits, cheese spreads, salad dressing, canned soups, etc. In other cases gluten may be listed by other names so keep an eye out for;
- Distilled white vinegar
- “artificial” flavorings or “natural” flavorings
- diglycerides or monoglycerides
- malt or malt flavorings
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Just because you eliminate these previously mentioned gluten containing grains does not mean that food has to be boring. Alternatives that do not contain gluten include;
Despite the connection between gluten and psoriasis not being crystal clear, eliminating gluten is a strategy you can adopt to see whether psoriasis symptoms go away after following a gluten free diet for a few weeks.
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