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Mild psoriasis symptoms may improve with intermittent fasting

A form of intermittent fasting appears to improve scaling and thickening in patients with mild psoriasis, according to preliminary results presented at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Spring Symposium on May 6.

In a press release from the EADV, the investigators who presented the findings say the study’s goal was to find mechanistic evidence that might help clarify whether there is a link between gut health and psoriatic lesions. Also, they wanted to see if a modified intermittent fasting (MIF) 5:2 protocol—eating normally for five days and restricting calorie intake on two non-consecutive days—would have any benefits for patients with psoriasis.

“We had observed positive results in mice with gut inflammation and psoriasis, with inflammation in the gut driving cutaneous symptoms,” said Dr. Lynda Grine in the release.

“Through scientific curiosity and my own experience with fasting as a Muslim, I wanted to find out whether dietary intervention would have the same effects on human patients with psoriasis.” Dr. Grine is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Dermatology, Ghent University, Belgium.

A total of 24 subjects were enrolled in the study. Half of the participants were instructed to modify their diet with MIF for 12 weeks, and the other 12 participants continued on their regular diet. The fasting group was asked to consume a total of 500 kcal twice per week on two non-consecutive days but were free to consume their usual daily calorie intake for the remaining five days of the week. During the trial, two patients were excluded: one due to the start of antibiotic use and one due to loss to follow-up.

Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) and Body Surface Area scores did not differ significantly between the fasting and regular diet groups, according to the report, although PASI was reduced in the fasting group.

The team also measured changes in waist circumference and weight, noting that a link between obesity and psoriasis severity has been observed. They found the two measures were comparable between the two study groups at six weeks but were significantly reduced in the fasting group at week 12 compared to the control group (p<0.05 and <0.001, respectively). The fasting subjects reported significant improvement more frequently at weeks 6 and 12 (p<0.0001), mentioning less scaling and thickening. Just under one-third (30%) of that group also reported a decrease in itching.

The study will be completed at the end of June 2021.

“The effect of dietary interventions on skin health is a stimulating field of research in dermatology. The results of this study add to the growing body of evidence being undertaken to understand the relationship between the gut and skin, with some promising results for patients and the disease management of psoriasis,” said Prof. Marie-Aleth Richard, EADV Board Member and Professor at the University Hospital of La Timone, Marseille, in the release.


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