Psoriasis is a lifelong (chronic) skin disease that causes red, cracking dry, and itching scaly patches on your scalp and the skin of your elbows, trunk, and knees. It occurs because your immune system reacts to your own skin, causing your skin cells to reproduce at a more-than-normal pace. Continuous inflammation in the skin mainly causes the symptoms of the disease.
Among many other treatments, dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids has shown promising effects in many psoriasis patients.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 is a class of fatty acids, which includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is the most beneficial of all fats in your body. There are multiple beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids for your health.
Omega-3s possess significant anti-inflammatory properties. These work by inhibiting the function of enzymes that synthesize the inflammatory mediators. Without enough mediators, inflammation discontinues and the symptoms get relieved.
What is the Omega-3 Index?
The omega-3 index is a measure of the amount of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in your blood, especially the red blood cells’ membranes. It measures the percentage of omega-3s out of total fats (different types) in a cell membrane. It gives an estimate of the total omega-3s levels in your body. It simply tells about how much omega-3s you take from your diet. It is a direct biomarker for the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and some inflammatory diseases (including psoriasis).
OMEGA-3 index = 8 – 11
An omega-3 index value of 8 to 11 is considered optimal for good health. It reduces the risk of many life-threatening diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other inflammatory diseases.
Health Benefits of High Omega-3 Index in Psoriasis
A high omega-3 index simply means that you have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your body. Studies have shown multiple health benefits of high omega-3 index in your body.
For psoriasis patients, omega-3 fats are no less than a blessing. By significantly reducing the synthesis of inflammatory mediators, omega-3s not only reduce the severity of symptoms but also the frequency of flare-ups. It also alleviates the itchiness of the affected areas.
According to a 2011 study, published in the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, showed that the addition of omega-3 rich supplements with other topical psoriasis medicines significantly increases their efficacy. It helps reduce the redness and itchiness of the scaly plaques. It also improves the other factors playing a role in healthy skin.
A 2014 study, published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, showed that the use of fish oil (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) is beneficial for psoriasis patients.
According to another study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that obese individuals who also had psoriasis, significantly improved their symptoms when they followed a low-calorie diet that also contained omega-3 fatty acids.
Other Health Benefits
The high omega-3 index has many health benefits for people of all ages.
- It improves your heart health and reduces the risk of a heart attack.
- It alleviates depression and anxiety.
- It improves your eyesight.
- It promotes the brain development of an embryo in the womb.
- It helps fight inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
- It may also prevent cancer.
Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Fruits and Vegetables. Berries, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds are good fruit sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Green leafy vegetables like Brussels sprouts and kale and other sea vegetables are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fish and Seafood. Mackerel, salmon, sardines, shrimps, oysters, and sea bass are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids (both EPA and DHA)
- Supplements. You can also meet your optimal omega-3 index levels using fish oil supplements.
Psoriasis is a long term skin disorder that causes cosmetic as well as health issues. Studies have shown that increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) leads to significant improvement in the symptoms of psoriasis. Omega-3s also have many other benefits for overall health and wellbeing.