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Refined Sugar and Psoriasis

Refined Sugar and Psoriasis

Why sugar is bad for Psoriasis & What are the better alternatives?

It is already well known that a diet high in refined sugars can lead to all sorts of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, cognitive decline, depression and even some cancers[1]. It is also known that refined sugars can trigger psoriasis flareups, and here is how.

Studies suggest that refined sugars release proinflammatory substances in the body, causing inflammation in the joints, and a western diet high in sugars and saturated fats may lead to skin inflammation and the development of psoriasis. [2][3] Therefore, the elimination of refined sugars is important for psoriasis healing.

How Refined Sugars Affect our Body

Promotes inflammation

Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to establish the effects of refined sugars. These studies suggest that sugar indeed increases the risk of chronic inflammation and worsens inflammatory conditions. Especially those related to skin and joints, including Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. [4][5][6][7]

Refined sugars feed pathogens

The good bacteria feed on fibres but the pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria feed on sugar and refined carbohydrates.

An increase in pathogenic bacteria can lead to a condition known as dysbiosis (also called dysbacteriosis, an imbalance between the types of organism present in a person’s natural microflora) and leaky gut, (also called intestinal hyperpermeability, caused by disruption of the tight junction cells and when intestinal wall become loose, allowing toxic substances to enter the bloodstream) which is known to have a strong link to autoimmune diseases. 8][9]

Suppress the immune system

Studies have shown that sugar intake suppresses the immune system. By consuming too many foods and beverages high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, we are continuously reducing our immune system’s ability to fight pathogens (disease-causing germs) like bacteria, parasites and viruses.[10]

According to gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, sugar starts suppressing our immune system just in about 30 minutes after consuming, and effect can last as long as five hours.

Contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties

According to a comprehensive review by Angela Jacques et al. A diet high in sugars has been linked to cognitive impairments, negative neuroplasticity and emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Sugar overconsumption leads to changes in neurobiological brain function which alter emotional states and subsequent behaviours. Negative emotions can exacerbate sugar overconsumption and vice versa. [11]

Causes arthritis

If you are suffering from Psoriatic arthritis, you might be familiar with joint pain after consuming refined carbohydrates such as; foods made of white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, breakfast cereals. That’s because our body processes refined carbs as Sugar.

According to a study, the main Factors promoting Arthritis are; sugary drinks rich in fructose, plants and seeds containing lectins, in addition to other factors such as; Epstein-Barr viral infection, bacteria such as Micrococcus luteus, Mycobacterium gastri, Nocardia brasiliensis, fungal infections such as Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans all of which thrives with refined sugars. [12]

Reduce good cholesterol (HDLs) and raise bad cholesterol (LDLs) and Increase the risk of coronary heart disease

A study by James J. DiNicolantonio et al. suggests that Replacing saturated fats with refined carbohydrates, specifically with added sugars like sucrose or high fructose corn syrup, is not favourable for heart health. Such replacement leads to negative changes in cholesterol levels and triglycerides that may increase coronary heart disease risk.

Additionally, diets high in sugar may induce many other abnormalities associated with elevated levels of glucose, insulin, uric acid, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin and leptin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and altered platelet function. A diet high in added sugars has been found to cause a 3-fold increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. [13]

Speed the ageing process, causing wrinkles and grey hair

A lot of people have given up sugar because of its effect on the skin and you can find many before and after testimonials all over the internet. Some claim cutting sugar helped with acne, wrinkles and saggy skin in addition to other health improvements.

Although ageing is inevitable, some people age visually slower than others, and factors such as smoking, too much sun exposure and air pollution could be to blame.

However, research has shown that diets high in sugar can damage elastin and collagen molecules in the skin, increasing wrinkles and sagging and accelerate the effects of ageing. [14]

Contribute to weight gain and obesity

Consuming high amounts of energy like fats and sugars, moving too little and not burning off that energy through exercise and physical activity can result in energy storage in the body as fat. However, other factors, such as genetics and underlying medical conditions, may contribute to weight gain as well. [15]

Increase the risk of fatty liver disease

Recent evidence suggests that diets high in sugar (from sucrose and/or high-fructose corn syrup) not only increase the risk of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, but also increases the risk of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis through alterations to gut permeability, the microbiome, and associated endotoxemia.

Early clinical studies suggest that reducing sugary beverages and total fructose intake, especially from added sugars, may have a significant benefit on reducing hepatic fat accumulation. [16]

Increase the risk of alzheimer’s disease

Research presented at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference has shown that sugary drink intake is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“No matter the form of sugar – fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes – those who had the highest consumption of sugar in the study were found to have the highest risk of developing Alzheimer’s.”

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, says: ‘Dementia is one of the 21st century’s biggest killers, with one person developing the condition every three minutes. With no way to slow down or cure dementia, risk reduction is critical.

‘Too much sugar is linked to type 2 diabetes and our previous research has identified type 2 diabetes as a risk factor for dementia. This study backs up this evidence, suggesting that excess sugar may increase our risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and all types of sugar – from fruit juice to lemonade – have the same impact. 

‘By cutting down on the fizzy drinks, sweets and cakes and eating a varied and balanced diet we will be able to reduce our risk of developing dementia in later life.’ [17]

Promote tooth decay

It’s common knowledge that sugar damages our teeth. Sugary food and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. The acid that is produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar, dissolves the tooth surface, which is the beginning stage of tooth decay. [18]

Categories of foods with refined sugars

Sugar is everywhere! These days we consume more commercially processed and convenience foods than ever before. These foods usually have added sugar which acts as a sweetener, preservative, texture modifier, fermentation substrate, flavouring and colouring agent, or bulking agent. Some examples of sugar-containing foods are;

  • Sweets: Chocolate, Chocolate Bars, Candies, Ice Cream, etc.
  • Baked Goods:  Some types of Bread, Pies, Croissants, Cakes, Muffins etc.
  • Breakfast Foods: Breakfast Cereals, Cereal Bars, Packaged Muesli, Granola, etc.
  • Canned Goods: Baked Beans, Canned Vegetables, Fruit, etc.
  • Spreads: Nut Butters, Fruit Purées, Sweet Spreads, Jams, etc.
  • Diet foods: Low-fat Peanut Butter, Low-fat Yoghurts, Low-fat Sauces, etc.
  • Drinks: Dessert Wine, Soft drinks, Sports drinks, Canned Coffee, Energy Drinks, some Fruit Juices and Fruit Flavoured Drinks, etc.
  • Sauces: Salad Dressings, Ketchup, Pasta Sauces, etc.
  • Ready-made meals: Pizza, Frozen Meals, Instant meals etc.

Types of Sugar

  • Glucose – a simple form of sugar in the blood (the blood sugar) that the body uses for energy. It is produced when carbohydrate is broken down in the digestive system. Glucose mainly found in pastas, whole grain bread, legumes and a range of vegetables.
  • Fructose – known as “fruit sugar” it primarily occurs naturally in many fruits, honey, sugar beets, sugar cane and vegetables.
  • Lactose – also referred to as “milk sugar” lactose is the sugar that’s found in all milk (including human) and milk products.
  • Sucrose – is the “table sugar”. All types of sugar you can find in store, white sugar, brown sugar, red sugar, raw sugar, confectioner’s sugar pearl sugar, sanding sugar, cane sugar, etc., it’s all sucrose!

60 Different names of Sugar

Read the labels when buying packaged food, drinks and medicaments. Some of these are artificial ingredients that can cause candida yeast infection and worsen the symptoms of psoriasis.

Agave NectarDemerara SugarLactose
Apple SugarDextroseMaltose
Banana SugarDiastatic MaltMalt Syrup
Barbados SugarDiataseMannose
Barley MaltEthyl MaltolMaple Syrup
Beet SugarFructoseMolasses
Black Strap MolassesFruit JuiceMuscovado Sugar
Brown SugarFruit Juice ConcentratePanocha
Buttered SyrupGalactoseRaw Sugar
Cane Juice CrystalsGlucoseRefiner’s Syrup
Cane SugarGlucose SolidsRice Syrup
CaramelGolden SugarSorbitol
CarbitolGolden SyrupSorghum Syrup
Corn SyrupGrape SugarSucrose
Corn Syrup solidsHigh-Fructose Corn SyrupSugar
Confectioner’s SugarHoneyTreacle
Carob SyrupIcing SugarTurbinado Sugar
Castor SugarInvert SugarYellow Sugar
Date SugarLocust Bean GumXanthan Gum

Difference Between Natural vs. Refined Sugars

Natural sugars are the sugars that occur naturally, fructose in fruits and lactose in milk are the natural forms of sugars. Natural sugars can help stabilize your metabolism, they are digested more slowly and keep you feel full for longer.

Refined sugars are sucrose extracted from processed sugar cane or sugar beets. When we consume refined sugars, blood sugar and insulin levels rise rapidly because the body breaks down refined sugars so much faster than natural sugars, therefore, people tend to overeat and have sugar cravings.

What are the healthier alternatives to Refined Sugar

  • Stevia – 250–300 times sweeter than regular sugar and contain Zero calorie
  • Monk Fruit Sweetener – 150-200 times sweeter than sugar and contain Zero calorie
  • Honey and Dates also healthy choices and has so many health benefits if you can tolerate them.

Since Stevia and the Monk Fruit sweetener are both zero-calorie sweeteners they have no impact on your glucose levels.

However, when buying these sweeteners, you have to make sure to read the labels and avoid additives that are more harmful than refined sugars like; Maltodextrin (starchy powder added as a thickener, improve flavour or shelf-life), Sodium cyclamate (artificial sweetener), Sodium saccharin (artificial sweetener), Aspartame (artificial sweetener). These ingredients are not gut-friendly and can harm your good bacteria.

Should you avoid Sugar if you have Psoriasis?

The short answer is Yes. You must eliminate Refined sugars and Carbs In order to restore healthy gut bacteria and consequently heal psoriasis. This is already a well-known fact and common practice in healing psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases.

It is hard to go cold turkey, you can fight your sugar cravings by choosing Nature made sweets such as Fruits, Honey, Dates, and Vegetables, without any additives.

[1[ Rippe, James M, and Theodore J Angelopoulos. “Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding.” Nutrients vol. 8,11 697. 4 Nov. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8110697

[2] University of California – Davis Health. “Western diet rich in fat and sugar linked to skin inflammation.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200218161720.htm.

[3] Dickinson, Scott et al. “High-glycemic index carbohydrate increases nuclear factor-kappaB activation in mononuclear cells of young, lean healthy subjects.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 87,5 (2008): 1188-93. doi:10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1188

[4] Aeberli, Isabelle et al. “Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 94,2 (2011): 479-85. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.013540

[5] Bruun, J M et al. “Consumption of sucrose-sweetened soft drinks increases plasma levels of uric acid in overweight and obese subjects: a 6-month randomised controlled trial.” European journal of clinical nutrition vol. 69,8 (2015): 949-53. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2015.95

[6] Spreadbury, Ian. “Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity.” Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity : targets and therapy vol. 5 (2012): 175-89. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S33473

[7] Buyken, Anette E et al. “Carbohydrate nutrition and inflammatory disease mortality in older adults.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 92,3 (2010): 634-43. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29390

[8] Satokari, Reetta. “High Intake of Sugar and the Balance between Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Gut Bacteria.” Nutrients vol. 12,5 1348. 8 May. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12051348

[9] Miller, Aaron W. “Commentary: Loss of Function Dysbiosis Associated with Antibiotics and High Fat, High Sugar Diet.” Journal of infectiology vol. 2,2 (2019): 23-25.

[10] Childs, Caroline E et al. “Diet and Immune Function.” Nutrients vol. 11,8 1933. 16 Aug. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11081933

[11] Angela Jacques et al.
The impact of sugar consumption on stress driven, emotional and addictive behaviors,
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
Volume 103, 2019, Pages 178-199, ISSN 0149-7634,

[12] Skoczyńska, Marta, and Jerzy Świerkot. “The role of diet in rheumatoid arthritis.” Reumatologia vol. 56,4 (2018): 259-267. doi:10.5114/reum.2018.77979

[13] DiNicolantonio, James J et al. “The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease.” Progress in cardiovascular diseases vol. 58,5 (2016): 464-72. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2015.11.006

[14] Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):409-11. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.018. PMID: 20620757.

[15] Faruque, Samir et al. “The Dose Makes the Poison: Sugar and Obesity in the United States – a Review.” Polish journal of food and nutrition sciences vol. 69,3 (2019): 219-233. doi:10.31883/pjfns/110735

[16] Jensen, Thomas et al. “Fructose and sugar: A major mediator of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Journal of hepatology vol. 68,5 (2018): 1063-1075. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2018.01.019

[17] Sugary diet may increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease . Alzheimer’s Society. Tuesday 24 July 2018

[18] Which foods cause tooth decay. National Health Service UK.  7 August 2019

Disclaimer: Dear reader, any and all the content on OffPsoriasis.com Is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

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