Over 7 million Americans suffer from psoriasis, a skin disorder caused by problems with the immune system. Characterized by patches of sore, itchy, inflamed or scaly skin, psoriasis is typically treated with medication, topical creams or exposure to ultraviolet light. In 2008, chiropractor John O.A. Pagano published "Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative," a book containing a diet plan that Pagano claims can help treat psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation does not endorse the Pagano diet and cautions that following the plan may help some, but not all, psoriasis sufferers. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist before starting the plan.
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According to Pagano, a diet that's made up of 70 percent to 80 percent fresh, organic fruits and vegetables -- what he terms "alkaline" foods -- and 20 percent to 30 percent wild meats and organic grains, or "acidic" foods, is the most effective way to treat psoriasis. Plan on eating plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables, fish, lamb, poultry, brown or wild rice, low- or nonfat milk or yogurt, almonds and whole-grain pasta or baked goods that don't contain yeast or eggs. Drink American yellow saffron tea and six to eight glasses of water each day; supplement with flax oil, fish oil with omega-3 fatty acid and slippery elm bark powder.
Foods to Avoid
The Pagano diet is based on the premise that psoriasis is caused by compounds in foods passing from the digestive system into the bloodstream through weak parts of the intestinal wall. To prevent this from happening, followers of the diet are instructed to avoid all red meats except lamb, all sweeteners, all products containing refined flour or refined grains, white potatoes, chocolate, eggs, yeast and yeast products like bread, any processed item containing preservatives or additives, alcohol, caffeine, shellfish, citrus fruits like oranges, fried foods and produce that belong to the nightshade family of plants, such as tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.
Sample Daily Menu
CNN news anchor Zain Verjee explained in a 2014 article that she follows the Pagano diet daily to help manage her psoriasis. Breakfast for Verjee might be sugar-free bran cereal with milk, sliced fruit mixed with yogurt, tea and hot water with lemon juice. Lunch could be grilled chicken or turkey with a green salad and steamed asparagus, while grilled lamb topped with white sauce, broccoli and carrots might serve as dinner. To stick with the diet, Verjee has fruit for dessert and snacks on seeds, fruits, vegetables and granola bars that contain no additives or preservatives.
Advantages and Disadvantages
If you adhere to the Pagano diet, you'll eat less sodium and sugar and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables than a person consuming the standard American diet. But there isn't any scientific evidence to prove Pagano is correct in claiming psoriasis is caused by eating the wrong things or that eating what he recommends is an effective treatment for the condition. Many other aspects of his plan, including the required supplements and the emphasis on spinal adjustments, also aren't supported by clinical studies and shouldn't be followed by women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant.