Psoriasis and diet

Siro Passi, O. De Pità, M. Cocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psoriasis is a complex, recurrent, inflammatory disease of unknown causation, involving immune attacks in skin with chronic inflammation and exuberant overgrowth of the outer layers of the skin. There are at least two features that are thought to play some role: genetic predisposition and psoriasis triggers. The incidence of psoriasis in Europe and USA ranges between 1.5-2.5% and 0.7-2.0% respectively. The disease is rare in Blacks, Indians and Yellow race, whereas in Eskimos it is not found at all. When one parent or both parents have psoriasis, about 8% and 41% respectively of offspring develop psoriasis. In these cases, the onset of psoriasis requires the action of so called provocative factors, triggering the hereditary elements. These factors (streptococcal infections, drug use, alcohol, smoking, skin traumas (Koebner), psychological stress, climate, metabolic problems, hormones, oxidative stress, imbalanced diet etcetera) are significantly involved also in the more or less frequent relapses of psoriasis. Infact, indipendently of the type of psoriasis (vulgaris, guttate, plaque, pustular, inverse, erythrodermic, arthritis,...), no pharmacological therapy (keratolytics, lubricants, coal-tar, ichtamol, topical corticosteroids, narrow band UV treatment, topical vitamin D3 derivatives, PUVA, systemic cyclosporine, systemic metotrexate, systemic retinoids, hydroxyurea, fumaric acid esters, capsaicin, alefacept....) assures patients of a lasting recovery. In particular diet and psychological stress are two important triggering factors. There have been numerous dietary approaches for psoriasis dating back many years, despite no consistent linkage with psoriasis have yet been found. Simplistic models of dietary effects in psoriasis invariably fall short of validation. However there are certain important guidelines one should follow. In particular a psoriatic patient should follow a well balanced low caloric mediterranean like diet, containing: fresh fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants, folate, zinc, fiber, selenium, n-3 PUFA, monounsaturated fatty acids, ....., and avoid or reduce red meats, eggs, dairy products, alcohol, spice and condiments, gluten, sugars, n-6 PUFA, saturated fatty acids, ...... In our opinion an effective and rational treatment of psoriasis, indipendently of the type, ought to provide for an holistic approach, which associates conventional pharmacological therapies with an appropriate diet and psychological stress reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-247
Number of pages17
JournalProgress in Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Diet
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Psychological stress
  • Triggering factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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