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6pm: Experiment Ends.

Story location: Home / Blog /

During May, I decided to avoid wheat to see if it would help my psoriasis. After a month there was no improvement. Some people have claimed avoiding dairy can help so last month I decided to avoid both wheat and milk-based products. I kept eating eggs because I don't really consider them to be dairy. They don't even come from cows. Since we keep Quail, if I stopped eating eggs then we would have hundreds of them going to waste.

Eating out made it difficult sticking to the diet but it wasn't to bad when I was cooking at home.

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Breakfast was easy. During the week I had wheat free cereal such as rice crispies or corn flakes, served with soy milk. I either used sweetened or chocolate flavoured soy milk - the unsweetened stuff was really tasteless. You don't usually think of milk as being sweet but it does contain a sugar, lactose, so the sweetened soy version is a reasonable substitute.

For lunch I usually had oat crackers and either sandwich meat or a tin of fish in sauce (such as tuna, sardines, mackerel or herring). I had to check to make sure the sauce didn't contain wheat or milk derivatives. I was surprised to find a pack of sandwich chicken which listed powdered milk as an ingredient but most were ok.

Most of our evening meals are cooked from scratch so it was fairly straightforward to substitute 'fake' pasta (usually maize based) for normal pasta. Obviously rice based meals were ok. Another surprise was when I found that the tub of chicken stock powder we were using contained lactose. They really do put some odd ingredients in things.

Our weekly pizza night was a problem. We tried using wheat free bread flour (usually rice and potato flour with xanthan gum to replace the gluten). We tried different recipes but none of them were as good as using normal flour. The worst part was avoiding cheese. I tried making 'soy cheese' by warming soy milk with a little lemon juice, but all I ended up with was a soft tofu which of course didn't melt but just sat on top of the pizza, looking grey and unappetizing.

I was going to stay wheat and milk free until the end of the month but since there was no improvement, we decided to give up. We used up the last of the 'fake pasta' tonight with a cheese sauce. It was nice to be able to eat cheese again. Next stop: cheese on toast. As soon as we've bought some sliced bread.

The effect of poor diet on psoriasis

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My psoriasis is quite bad at the moment. I think this may be due to me eating a fairly poor diet recently. During the last month I have been away from home a lot, eating a lot of restaurant meals or take-aways. This means I have been eating more fried food than normal, and hardly any fresh fruit and veg.

Over the next few weeks I will try to cut out various unhealthy or processed foods. We have stocked up on fruit and veg and healthy snacks, including nuts and dried fruit. I will try to avoid soft drinks and coffee, and stick to drinking tea.

I will probably allow 1 processed meal or take-away, but otherwise all of my hot meals will be home-cooked. Breakfast will be the usual bowl of cereal - we normally have low fat and low sugar cereals so that won't pose a problem.

I have stocked up on tins of mackerel because oily fish is supposed to be good if you have psoriasis. Lunch will probably alternate between fish and cottage cheese.

Daytime snacks used to include fruit with the occasional bag of crisps, cereal bar or biscuit. I will have to cut out the crisps and biscuits but I have stocked up on apples, bananas, dried apricots and dried figs. Sometimes I have a craving for carbohydrate and used to satisfy it with a biscuit. I will need to choose a healthier alternative, such as nuts.

I will give this diet a few weeks to see if it makes a difference. There are other foods such as wheat or yeast which can trigger psoriasis in some people, so I may eventually try to cut down on these, but I won't do that straight away. If I change too many things at once then I won't know which ones had an effect.

Psoriasis Update

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It's been almost a year since I wrote about starting on a psoriasis-friendly diet. It hasn't completely eradicated it but is seems to have helped a bit.

I did a bit more reading on-line and found various lists of suspect foods, which often included:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Aubergines
  • Potatoes
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

There were also some foods which were recommended, such as dried fruits or oily fish.

An awful lot of this information seems to have originally come from an American psychic called Edgar Cayce who, according to an article in Fortean Times magazine, would often go into a trance and diagnose illnesses or suggest cures. His suggestions have been repeated over the years and regularly features in advice on reducing the symptoms of psoriasis. Normally I'd be sceptical but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it has some effect.

I initially stopped eating tomatoes and drinking red wine. I also started taking probiotic and omega-3/fish-oil supplements daily. As the psoriasis was mainly on my scalp I'd been keeping my hair short, but recently started having it cut even shorter (only no. 8 on the hair clippers but that's still shorter than I like it).

With all that going on it's hard to tell what has had the greatest effect but it has definitely got slightly better. It hasn't gone away but it isn't as thick on my scalp and areas of 'normal' skin have started to appear by my hairline. Cutting out the various prohibited foods helped but didn't stop it so I've returned to eating them but only in moderation. I've since started drinking squash drinks with red berries in, and having small amounts of tomatoes about every other week, and probably a bottle of red wine once per month. Other foods such as aubergines and potatoes are easier to avoid (I always have rice or pasta instead of chips).

I've been drinking green tea for a number of years, but increased my consumption because of anecdotal evidence of it being useful. This has since been confirmed by researchers. Sadly, I've not noticed any improvement through drinking it.

The psoriasis comes and goes in cycles - I'm not sure whether the waxing and waning is anything to do with diet. The weather may have some effect - ultra-violet light is known to help. I keep my hair short to let more light get to my scalp. As long as I don't let it get too thick, it doesn't cause many problems.

Psoriasis at Psainsburys

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We were leaving Sainsburys yesterday when someone stopped me and started talking about Psoriasis. It wasn't a completely random event because I have suffered from it on my scalp for a couple of years and it's visible at the top of my forehead. He had suffered from it for several years and wanted to pass on some advice. He told me to avoid anything with red berries in it, and that included red wine. He also suggested the original Head & Shoulders 'all-in-one' shampoo and conditioner rather than the coal tar shampoos which are usually recommended for the condition.

We chatted for a few minutes, then thanked him and left the shop. It shouldn't be too difficult to follow his advice. It certainly won't cost much when the only thing we need to buy is a standard off the shelf shampoo. Some of his other suggestions, such as avoid processed food and additives, we do anyway.

We were back in the supermarket tonight. We realised that the definition of red berries was a bit ambiguous. It might mean:

  • Red Grapes (and by extension, raisins)
  • Strawberries and raspberries
  • darker berries such as blackcurrants
  • possibly even tomatoes

We had to buy some more squash because the ever-so-tasty Vimto and the blackcurrant drink in the house might be unsuitable. We had to buy apricot jam because the strawberry jam in the fridge might count. I had to put the malt loaf back on the shelf because of the raisins. I won't be able to drink the purple grape juice in the fridge.

I'll give it a few months and see if it improves.