ESTIMATED READING TIME 5 MINUTES
Are you plagued by psoriasis? Have you tried all sorts of creams and medications without lasting relief, only to find your symptoms flare up again for no apparent reason? Have you ever wondered what is causing your condition?
This month is Psoriasis Awareness Month. Read on to discover the link between skin and gut health, and how to naturally manage psoriasis to obtain lasting relief.
Psoriasis is an example of an autoimmune disease, in fact it’s one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the UK.
If you suffer from psoriasis, your immune system attacks your skin cells causing them to be produced faster than usual. This might sound like a good thing because your skin needs to constantly renew itself. However, if new skin cells are produced too quickly, they don’t have sufficient time to mature before they reach the skin’s surface. This means they cannot shed quickly enough. These skin cells build up, causing unsightly silver-white patches on top of red, inflamed skin, which are usually itchy and sore.
You might not think your gut and your skin could possibly be connected, but they are in fact closely linked. Your skin is far more than simply a protective envelope, it’s also a major route to safely eliminate undesirable substances, often called toxins, from your body. The two other main routes of elimination are your gut and your kidneys. But if either of those routes isn’t working too well, extra work will fall on your skin and its function can suffer.
The other main way your gut affects your skin is via your immune system. Over three-quarters of your immune system is found in your gut, with your gut microbes operating as a command centre for your immune cells. Therefore, any issues with your gut health and especially connected with the bacteria living in your digestive system can have a significant influence on your immune system. One effect of poor gut health is that your immune system can turn on innocent parts of your body, such as your skin.
Scientists have found the population of bacteria living in the guts of people with psoriasis are different to those who don’t have the disease 1. The makeup of their bacteria was similar to those found in people with IBS.
One aspect of gut health particularly relevant to any autoimmune disease is the integrity of the gut lining. This refers to which substances are allowed through the lining into your bloodstream, and which are denied entry. In other words, your gut lining acts a bit like a nightclub doorman. It’s an incredibly complex yet essential role, as nutrients need to be allowed access and potentially dangerous substances prohibited. If your gut lining becomes too permeable, these toxins can pass into your bloodstream. They are detected by your immune system and a message is sent around your immune cells. This puts them on red alert to look out for potential troublemakers. If this carries on happening your immune system can become super-sensitive and confused, attacking innocent body cells like skin cells. In fact, research has confirmed psoriasis is linked with increased digestive permeability 2.
Your gut bacteria, as well as instructing your immune system, contribute to the health of your gut lining too. This means these bacteria are doubly important.
Some foods, such as gluten, can increase the permeability of the gut lining. In fact, many people with psoriasis notice their symptoms become worse when they eat gluten.
The ecosystem of bacteria living inside your gut and having so much influence on your health is completely individual to you. It’s shaped by the food you eat, your stress levels, lifestyle, medicine use and even your genetics. This means a one-size fits all approach to optimal health can never be completely successful. Your gut bacteria does, however, alter from day to day and month to month. Sensible measures to support gut health like managing stress, feeding your gut bacteria with fibre-rich plant foods, avoiding sugar and harnessing the power of fermented foods are a great start to benefit your gut.
Rather than slathering on creams to manage the symptoms of psoriasis, lasting results can only be obtained by treating the root cause of the disease. In other words, the health of your gut and your immune system are crucial. Functional tests are useful to assess what’s amiss in your gut and discover whether your microbiome is out of balance.
We’ll provide you with personalised recommendations to optimise your immune health. By supporting your gut health and reducing inflammation, your immune system will have a chance to recover and your skin to heal.
Take the first step towards lasting relief from psoriasis today.
Do you need personalised support for your psoriasis? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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