Two hands holding a cheeseburger over top a table with French fries.
Saturated and trans fats, along with fried food and carbs, are not recommended for patients with psoriasis or COPD.

Understanding a Surprising Relationship

Did you know there's a link between psoriasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? At first glance, both conditions may seem unrelated. However, studies have indicated that there could be an association between psoriasis and an increased risk of COPD.

In this article, we will explore the worst foods for both psoriasis and COPD, discuss what both conditions are, what causes them and the link between COPD and psoriasis. We will also look at treatment options for psoriasis, including Apremilast (sold under the brand name Otezla), which is used to treat inflammation.

Worst Foods for Psoriasis

Inflammation is a key player in the development of psoriasis, and certain foods can exacerbate this inflammatory response. Here are some of the worst offenders for individuals with psoriasis.

1. Dairy

Dairy can be inflammatory for some people, particularly those sensitive to casein, a protein found in milk. This sensitivity can trigger a reaction that may worsen psoriasis symptoms.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is known to increase the risk of psoriasis flares. Alcohol can affect the immune system and increase inflammation, making symptoms more difficult to control.

3. Saturated and Trans Fats

These fats, commonly found in fried foods and baked goods, can increase inflammation throughout the body and potentially worsen psoriasis lesions.

4. Refined Carbohydrates

Foods like white bread, pastries and candies are high-glycemic-index foods that can raise blood sugar levels quickly, resulting in an inflammatory response.

5. Gluten

Individuals with psoriasis may also have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. In such cases, consuming gluten can trigger an immune response and exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.

6. Added Sugar

High consumption of added sugars can lead to increased inflammation and potentially worsen psoriasis flare-ups.

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Worst Foods for COPD

COPD is affected by diet as well, with certain foods contributing to a worsening of symptoms.

1. Carbonated Beverages

These drinks can cause bloating and discomfort, leading to breathing difficulties for individuals with COPD.

2. Alcohol

Similar to its effects on psoriasis, alcohol can also affect lung function and heighten COPD symptoms due to its potential to weaken the immune response.

3. Salty Foods

Excessive salt intake can lead to water retention and consequent shortness of breath in COPD patients.

4. Processed Meat

Nitrates used as preservatives in processed meats can worsen COPD symptoms by causing airways to narrow and potentially impair lung function.

5. Coffee and Chocolate

Caffeine in coffee and chocolate may interfere with certain medications and can also lead to heartburn, which could increase breathing difficulties for someone with COPD.

6. Fried Foods

The trans fat content in fried foods can increase cholesterol and lead to heart problems, which are not favorable for COPD patients.

7. Cruciferous Vegetables

While generally healthy, vegetables like broccoli and cabbage can cause gas and bloating, which can make breathing uncomfortable for individuals with COPD.

Understanding Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by the rapid build-up of skin cells. This build-up leads to scaling on the skin's surface, which is often coupled with inflammation and redness.

The precise cause of psoriasis remains unclear, but it's thought to be related to an immune system issue involving T cells and other white blood cells, called neutrophils, in the body. These cells attack the skin, causing an autoimmune reaction.

Symptoms include:

  • Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales.
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed.
  • Itching, burning or soreness of the skin.
  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails.
  • Swollen and stiff joints.

Understanding COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease encompasses a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties, primarily emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It's a progressive disease, typically worsening over time. COPD involves a combination of chronic airway constriction and inflammation.

There are many known causes of COPD. These include long-term cigarette smoking, exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, and genetic factors, like a deficiency in the protein alpha-1-antitrypsin.

Symptoms can include:

  • Persistent respiratory symptoms such as chronic cough.
  • Increased mucus production.
  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities.
  • Wheezing.
  • Chest tightness.

The Link Between Psoriasis and COPD

Emerging research suggests that psoriasis, especially in its severe form, may be an independent risk factor for developing COPD. The inflammation known to drive psoriasis could also contribute to the development of COPD or exacerbate its symptoms. Both chronic conditions share similar mechanisms of systemic inflammation and immune response dysregulation.

Treating Psoriasis

Medical management of psoriasis may include the following treatments.

  • Moisturizers: These can decrease itching and scaling and help skin heal.
  • Steroid creams: Topical corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and relieve associated symptoms.
  • Anthralin: This medication normalizes DNA activity in skin cells to reduce inflammation.
  • Medicated lotions or shampoos: Preparations containing coal tar or salicylic acid can ease symptoms.
  • Retinoid creams: Topical retinoids can slow skin growth for plaque psoriasis.
  • Vitamin D3 ointment: Vitamin D analogues can regulate skin cell production and have immunomodulatory effects.
  • Apremilast: Apremilast operates by inhibiting phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), with the goal of suppressing the immune response and reducing inflammation. It is prescribed for adults dealing with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Treating COPD

Here are some common COPD treatments.

  • Bronchodilators: These medications are often delivered via inhalers and can relax muscle around the airways.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Corticosteroids reduce airway inflammation and can be inhaled or taken orally.
  • Oxygen therapy: For advanced COPD, this can help patients breathe easier.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: A program of education, exercise and support to improve the quality of life.
  • Anticholinergics: Inhaled anticholinergics reduce the production of mucus and widen airways.
  • Leukotriene modifiers: These are medications that reduce inflammation and can clear up airways.

Final Notes

Understanding the dietary factors that affect both psoriasis and COPD can be vital in managing these chronic conditions. Awareness of the potential link between these two diseases underscores the importance of a comprehensive approach to patient care.

Consulting healthcare professionals to tailor a dietary plan and treatment strategy that addresses an individual's unique health profile is a crucial step toward managing both psoriasis and COPD effectively.