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Switching to a balanced diet from the Western diet may reduce joint inflammation and psoriasis: A new study

Switching to a balanced diet from the Western diet may reduce joint inflammation and psoriasis: A new study

A new study proposed that consuming high sugary and fatty foods may disrupt the gut microbiota (the community of different microbes living inside the intestines), leading to trigger psoriasis and joint inflammation.

The study was recently published at the start of this year in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Sam T. Hwang is the lead researcher of this study. He is also the senior professor and the chairperson of the department of dermatology at UC Davis Health.

Hwang and his co-workers sought this finding to identify new insight for the treatment of inflammations. They took a psoriasis mimic mouse model for their in vivo study. They divided the mice into two separate groups. Moreover, they fed mice of one group with the Western (having full of unhealthy food) diet for ten weeks. On the other hand, researchers fed mice of another group with the same diet plan for six weeks. As a result, mice of both groups got severe skin and joint inflammations. 

Researchers confirmed the inflammatory effects through various modern technologies. These techniques included quantitative real-time PCR, bioinformatics, Immunohistological analysis, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis (FACS). After getting inflammation, they began to feed mice of the second group with the standard balanced diet for another four weeks. They observed restoration of gut microorganisms over time as the mice fed with a balanced diet.

A balanced diet may use to cure patients with skin or joint inflammation

The initial results of this study suggest that switching to a more balanced diet could reestablish the health of the gut by balancing the equilibrium of the intestine’s microbiome. According to Hwang, western diets typically consist of high sugar and fat content levels, which are unhealthy for intestinal health, as they imbalance the gut microbiome. It leads to the suppression of joints and skin inflammations. That is why it can cause significant joint inflammation and many other skin-related inflammatory diseases, like psoriasis. 

A balanced diet is characterized by low-calorie foods rich in fruits, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, dairy foods, etc. It may help the body to balance the symbiotic microbe present in the gut. However, there are hundreds of anti-inflammatory drugs available on the market. But, these drugs induce a harsh effect on our body that also has several adverse effects. On the contrary, following a balanced diet could protect the patients from the therapeutic side effects to a certain extent. Thus, clinicians should consider moving to a balanced diet plan during patients with joint inflammations or psoriasis flares. 

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a stubborn skin disorder. It causes irregular behavior in the immune system. In this health condition, the immune cells of the body attack healthy skin cells by mistake. As a response, the healthy cells cause inflammation on the skin. Subsequently, they form itchy red patches, hardness of errs, and rough scales on the skin.

Psoriatic arthritis is a significant indication of this disease. It showed swollen toes and fingers, morning fatigue and stiffness, joint pain, and nail changes. According to a survey, about 30% of people also show psoriatic arthritis during the psoriasis flare.

How does diet affect the balancing of gut microbiota and psoriasis?

Food is one of the significant regulating factors. It may potentially take part in balancing the equilibrium of microorganisms inside the gut. As we already mentioned, the western diet is full of junk and fast foods that are not healthy for our intestines. It causes rapid changes in the microbial community. Subsequently, it alters the functions of these microorganisms in the gut. As a result, the intestine suffers from a continuous disturbance in the balance of microbiota. This health condition is known as dysbiosis that finally leads to gut inflammation.

According to this research paper, the ingredients in our diet can play an essential role in making the skin more susceptible to psoriasis. Besides this, as gut bacteria are also involved in skin inflammation, Hwang and his colleagues sought to find whether dysbiosis of the intestine is also involved in joint and skin inflammation. For this purpose, they used an appropriate mouse model (such as Interleukin -23 minicircle-based model) during the study to observe the effect of diet on psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.

To make the Interleukin -23 (IL-23) minicircle-based mouse model. The researchers induced psoriasis-like mimicked skin and joint diseases in mice by injecting them with the IL-23 minicircle DNA.

A balanced diet improves inflammation even in the presence of IL-23

IL-23 is an immune cell generating protein. It is responsible for many autoimmune reactions that cause severe inflammatory diseases in most living organisms, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and psoriasis.

They fed these mice with a moderate-fat and high-sugar Western diet for ten weeks. The researchers found that only a short-term feeding of this diet was enough to cause intestinal dysbiosis. The results showed that psoriasis-like mimicked mice became more susceptible to the IL-23-mediated skin inflammation. Consequently, it caused a worsened condition of joint and psoriatic skin inflammation. The authors suggested an association between skin inflammation and microbial imbalance in the gut due to food intake. It is because they identified the gut microbiota as a pathogenic connection between psoriatic inflammation and dietary components.

Microbial imbalance due to unhealthy diet may be reversible

The researchers further sought to identify whether switching from a Western diet to a balanced diet can reestablish the equilibrium of gut microbiota, even in the presence of inflammatory proteins, such as IL-23. For this purpose, Hwang and his co-workers fed mice with a Western diet for six weeks. And, after that, they injected mice with an IL-23-inducing agent that triggered psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis-like features.

After injecting inflammatory proteins, they randomly made two groups of mice. They continued feeding the mice of the first group with the Western diet for another four weeks. Same time, they switched the diet plan of the second group from the western diet to a balanced diet. In this way, they fed the second group with a balanced diet simultaneously as the first group. In the last, they did a histological analysis of the skin and ears of the mice of both groups. 

The research confirmed that taking a junk diet full of high sugar and fat components for ten weeks makes the Western diet feeding mice more susceptible to skin and joint inflammation. Therefore, they had more scaling and itching patches on their skin and ears. However, after six weeks, mice that started feeding a balanced diet had fewer scaling and itching patches on their skin. Additionally, they also had reduced ear thickness than Western diet feeding mice.

The outcomes of the study

The study suggests that the Western diet has a temporary impact on skin inflammation. Furthermore, improvement in different symptoms of skin inflammation (such as hardness of errs and the scales on the skin) for mice who switched to a balanced diet from the Western diet plan confirms this impact. In short, modification in the diet plan with less sugar and fat intake could slightly reverse the early symptoms of inflammation by restoring gut microbiota.

Zhenrui Shi is the lead author of this study and a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at UC Davis Health. According to him, a change in the diet plan will be sufficient to produce a significant improvement in psoriasis and other skin inflammation conditions.

The information gathered from this study suggests the physicians should consider changing the dietary pattern to a healthier one for patients with joint diseases and psoriatic skin.


The reason behind the healthier joints and skin is the balance of gut microbiota. UC Davis Health and co-researchers confirmed it through a research study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. During the research, they found that the Western diet, which is rich in fat and sugar components, could lead to an imbalance in the microbial culture of the gut. And, therefore, this type of unhealthy diet may contribute to causing various inflammatory diseases, such as joint inflammation, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, etc. 

The researchers used an in vivo model of the psoriasis-like mimicked skin and joint diseases mice. They developed the IL-23 minicircle-based mouse model. Initially, they fed all the mice with an unhealthy Western diet. Afterward, they randomly made two groups and then fed them separately with two types of diets for the same time duration. Finally, they supplied the first group with the Western diet and the other with the balanced diet. 

Lastly, they analyzed the anatomy of the skin and ear to identify the effects of dietary foods in psoriasis flares and joint disease. One critical finding of this study is that the balance in the gut microbiota is disturbed shortly after feeding the mice with a Western diet. 

Conclusively, people can restore the pro-inflammatory effects by starting a balanced diet. Thus, clinicians should consider a balanced diet plan instead of treating patients with psoriasis flares and joint disease with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Written by HealthRadar360

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