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Dairy-Psoriasis Connection: Should You Go Dairy-Free?

Some people with psoriasis are convinced there is a connection between dairy consumption and psoriasis because drinking milk and eating dairy products seem to trigger their psoriasis flare-ups. Also Dr. John Pagano notes in his bestselling book, Healing Psoriasis, that some psoriatics seem to react adversely to dairy and recommends that these people avoid dairy products completely. But for all other psoriasis patients, he gives the following general advice: "Dairy products may be included in the daily diet in limited quantities and as long as they are low in fat and salt content".

So, what could explain why dairy seems to trigger psoriasis flare-ups and make existing symptoms worse in some psoriasis sufferers, while others seem to be able to eat dairy products and drink milk without a problem (at least in limited quantities)?

The Dairy-Inflammation Connection

As the scientific community has shown little interest in investigating the dairy-psoriasis connection, we are left with theories. One theory involves the ability of dairy products to promote inflammation. Although a systemic review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that dairy generally appears to be anti-inflammatory rather than pro-inflammatory, individual clinical trials show that dairy can also have pro-inflammatory properties [1].

There are a number of factors that might explain why some clinical trials have found that dairy promotes inflammation while others have found the opposite (or no connection). One factor that seems to play a significant role is that people are different, and while dairy can reduce inflammatory markers in some people, it can increase them in others. For example, in people with a known milk allergy, dairy appears to be strongly indicative of pro-inflammatory activity [1].

These findings are relevant to the discussion at hand because psoriasis is an inflammatory disorder, and getting rid of dietary habits that promote chronic inflammation and adopting a science-based anti-inflammatory diet are believed to help psoriasis sufferers control their symptoms.

Dairy Products

Tips for Psoriasis Sufferers Planning to Try a Dairy-Free Diet

If you think there is a connection between your psoriasis flare-ups and dairy, you might want to experiment with a dairy-free diet to see if it improves your symptoms. But, as always, it is best to talk to your doctor or a qualified nutritionist before starting a new diet to make sure you won't be missing out on any nutrients. What's more, if you think you might suffer from a true dairy allergy (rather than a dairy intolerance or sensitivity), you could also ask your doctor to perform an allergy test.

If you decide to go on a strict dairy-free diet, you will have to avoid all types of dairy products, including milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream and ice cream. Also keep in mind that many packaged foods have hidden dairy, so read the labels carefully.

When adopting a dairy-free diet, psoriasis sufferers should also be aware that some alternatives to cow's milk and dairy products may also be problematic. For example, some psoriatics cannot tolerate gluten, which makes many grain-based milk alternatives a non-option. There have also been concerns that beans might be bad for psoriasis sufferers, and if that is true, then psoriasis sufferers might also have to avoid vegan milks made from beans, such as soymilk, as well as other soy-based dairy alternatives such as soy yogurt.

[1] A. Bordoni et al (2015). Dairy Products and Inflammation: A Review of the Clinical Evidence. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 19:0 (PubMed).

For More on Diet & Psoriasis
Make it a habit to visit HealWithFood.org's online Guide to Healing Psoriasis on a regular basis. Updated once a week, the sidebar on the home page of the guide contains tons of links to interesting diet-related articles hand-picked for psoriasis sufferers. It also contains a weekly smoothie recipe featuring ingredients with psoriasis-fighting potential, as well as a book tip.
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Book You May Like
Dr. John Pagano has gained international fame with his groundbreaking book, Healing Psoriasis (available here), in which he presents an all-natural regimen designed to control psoriasis symptoms without drugs or ultraviolet treatments. Dr. John's Healing Psoriasis Cookbook is the indispensable companion book to Healing Psoriasis. Weighing in at nearly 600 pages, this extraordinary cookbook provides over 300 kitchen-tested recipes designed for people suffering from psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis or eczema, plus plenty of general nutritional information and advice. To learn more about this cookbook, or to order your copy, head to Amazon.