Western diets linked to inflammatory skin diseases

By Becky Bargh | Published: 29-Jun-2021

Study finds sufferers of psoriasis could improve disease by reducing fat and sugar intake

Sufferers of psoriasis and other skin diseases should be looking at their diet to treat their conditions, a new study has found.

Western diets, traditionally rich in sugar and fat, create an imbalance in the gut’s microbial culture, which contribute to inflammatory skin diseases, researchers at the University of California Davis Health (UC Davis Health) found.

The research suggests that a more balanced diet restores the gut’s health and suppresses skin inflammation.

“Earlier studies have shown that the Western diet, characterised by its high sugar and fat content, can lead to significant skin inflammation and psoriasis flares,” said Sam Hwang, Professor and Chair of Dermatology at UC Davis Health.

“Despite having powerful anti-inflammatory drugs for the skin condition, our study indicated that simple changes in diet may also have significant effects on psoriasis.”

Mice were injected with Interleukin-23 (IL-23) minicircle DNA to induce a response that mimics psoriasis-like skin, which was enhanced with a Western diet over a ten-week period.

A critical finding for the team was identifying the intestinal microbiota as a pathogenic link between diet and the displays of psoriatic inflammation.

“There is a clear link between skin inflammation and changes in the gut microbiome due to food intake,” added Hwang.

“The bacterial balance in the gut disrupted shortly after starting a Western diet and worsened psoriatic skin and joint inflammation.”

A more measured diet in mice was found to reduce ear thickness and skin inflammation, suggesting a change in food intake could reverse the proinflammatory effects and alter gut microbiota caused by a Western diet.

"It was quite surprising that a simple diet modification of less sugar and fat may have significant effects on psoriasis," said Zhenrui Shi, lead author on the study.

"These findings reveal that patients with psoriatic skin and joint disease should consider changing to a healthier dietary pattern."

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