You may not realize diabetes and psoriasis are related. However, it turns out there is an important connection between these health conditions, and given that diabetes affects 12.3% of adults over age 20, learning about this connection is vital to the health of millions of Americans. In type 1 diabetes, the connection between diabetes and psoriasis appears to be genetic. Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease, it runs in families, and specific versions of certain genes related to immune function (such as those related to the development of psoriasis, which is believed to be caused by abnormalities in the immune system, among other things) are strongly associated with the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. As for type 2 diabetes, common genetics also seem to predispose people to psoriasis. Another link may lie with insulin resistance that contributes to the development and progression of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have noted people with severe psoriasis may be nearly 50% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people without psoriasis, and psoriasis patients have more insulin resistance than similar people without psoriasis. For people with both psoriasis and diabetes, it’s important to work with your medical team to optimally manage both conditions. The following tips can help you get started:
- Take control. If your psoriasis is flaring up, talk to your doctor about how best to handle it. Your insulin resistance may be worse if your psoriasis is not under control.
- Consider your options. Some of the newer medications used to treat psoriasis have been associated with improved insulin resistance in people with both psoriasis and type 2 diabetes. Ask your doctor which medications are best for you, especially if you have more than one medical condition.
- Stay on top of your health. The association between psoriasis and the risk of type 2 diabetes seems to be strongest for people with severe psoriasis. If this includes you, do what you can to reduce your diabetes risk, or manage it if you already have it. For example, get regular, moderate physical activity, as much as your health allows.
- Fight the flames. Health experts have noted that one common pathway between psoriasis and type 2 diabetes could be inflammation. Given this, it makes sense to focus on a diet that may help reduce inflammation. The Mediterranean diet may be a good option, with its emphasis on olive oil for cooking and dressing, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and lean protein sources such as fish and chicken instead of red and processed meats, all of which may help reduce inflammation.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition