Dozens of recent studies have shown a link between diabetes and the chronic skin disease psoriasis. These studies revealed people with psoriasis are up to four times more likely to develop diabetes than those who do not have the skin condition. The National Institutes of Health reported about 3% of adults in the United States have psoriasis, making it essential to explore this connection.
- Psoriasis is a skin disease characterized by painful, itchy plaques on the skin. These thick, red patches sometimes bleed and cause the sufferer emotional stress. A UK study linked severe cases of psoriasis with a 46% increased risk of developing diabetes. Dr. Jashin Wu studied the link between psoriasis and other diseases at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles. He advised psoriasis patients should be checked regularly by their primary care physicians for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 8% of people in the United States have diabetes. That number has increased in recent years. The chronic inflammation behind psoriasis could be what is responsible for increasing the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Researchers are still studying how this potential link works. As a result, people with psoriasis should have extra diabetes screening and education regarding the risks.
- Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and a first step in healing. While inflammation combats infection and repairs injury, it can also cause insulin resistance and diabetes complications. If the process never slows down, inflammation can become chronic and cause damage to your arteries, kidneys and other internal organs. Higher than normal blood glucose levels can cause damaging inflammation in people with diabetes. Use a glucose meter regularly to monitor your blood sugar levels. Record the results of testing to share at regular doctor appointments. If your blood sugar levels are very high or very low, report them to your doctor right away.
- People with psoriasis and/or diabetes should be aware of other conditions that can cause chronic inflammation such as infections, high blood pressure and allergies. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get treatment for these medical conditions. Your doctor may prescribe medications for these conditions as well as medicine for inflammation. Medications used to reduce inflammation include statin drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and Salsalate. Always bring a list of the medications you currently take to doctor appointments to avoid contraindications.
- Excessive abdominal fat also contributes toward inflammation. Steer clear of unhealthy foods such as white flours and sugar, fatty meats and processed foods. Opt for whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. If you are overweight, losing even 5% of your total body weight can make a big difference.
- Stress is another cause of inflammation in the body. Reduce stress by doing meditation and breathing exercises. Gentle exercises such as yoga, tai chi, swimming and walking are also helpful. Exercise at least 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Talk to a counselor if stress from psoriasis, diabetes or other situations continues to bother you.
- There are also natural elements that help to reduce the inflammation associated with psoriasis and diabetes. Holistic medical doctor Andrew Weil recommends herbs such as turmeric and ginger to fight inflammation. Avoid foods with trans-fatty acids, partially hydrogenated oils and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Choose foods with Omega-3 fatty acids such as flax seeds, salmon and pumpkin seeds. Foods with “good fats” include olive oil and avocado. Eat plenty of green vegetables, whole fruits and berries that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Being aware of the possible connection between psoriasis and diabetes makes it easier to get help. Talk to your doctor about regular testing for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Choose a healthy lifestyle to reduce the inflammation in your body and minimize the chance of developing other chronic conditions.
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