If you or a loved one has psoriasis, learn about this skin condition’s link to fatty liver and what can be done about it.
Psoriasis and fatty liver are two seemingly unrelated inflammatory disorders that often occur in the same individual. A skin condition that is attributed to either genetics or the immune system, psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. Affecting nearly one-third of American adults, fatty liver describes the accumulation of excessive fat in the liver cells. Neither disorder is fully understood by the medical community. In addition, both psoriasis and fatty liver are devoid of a cure.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, a condition that causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of your skin. These extra skin cells form into scales and red patches that can be itchy and painful. Considered to be a chronic inflammatory disease of the immune system, psoriasis is often associated with other diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorder, and depression.
Although there is no cure, treatment for psoriasis focuses on symptom management – and depends on its severity:
- Approximately 80% of psoriasis sufferers have mild to moderate disease.
- Approximately 20% of psoriasis sufferers have moderate to severe disease (affecting more than 5% of the body surface area).
There are several different types of psoriasis, the most common being plaque psoriasis. The plaques are dry, raised, red skin lesions covered with silvery scales that can occur anywhere on your body. Other types of psoriasis include nail psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis.
About Fatty Liver
Also known as hepatic steatosis, fatty liver is a buildup of fat in the liver that affects an estimated 30% of American adults. Some fat in the liver is normal, but too much (greater than 10%) can create inflammation and lead to liver injury. Risk factors for fatty liver include being overweight, having diabetes, insulin resistance or high cholesterol. In addition, regular, excessive consumption of alcohol, toxins, and certain drugs can cause a fatty liver, too.
There are two primary types of fatty liver disease: non-alcoholic and alcoholic.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – Although experts do not yet fully understand NAFLD, this condition develops when your liver has difficulty breaking down fats. Factors known to contribute to NAFLD include obesity, high blood fats, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and genetics. When in the early stage of NAFLD, healthy lifestyle modifications that include good nutrition and regular exercise can reverse fatty liver. If enough fat accumulates in your liver that is not due to alcohol consumption, serious liver damage can result. Did you know that Clinical LiverSupport can help reduce fat accumulation in your liver? Learn more.
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease (ALD) – The earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease, ALD occurs because heavy drinking damages your liver, impairing its ability to metabolize fats. Assuming the damage has not progressed to cirrhosis, abstaining from alcohol may allow your fatty liver to subside.
The Connection Between Psoriasis and NAFLD
The co-existence of psoriasis and NAFLD is staggering, with researchers claiming that up to 47% of psoriasis patients develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The connection between the two seems to be metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health issues, with at least 3 of these 5 markers occurring together:
- Blood Sugar: High fasting blood sugar levels – 100 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
- Triglycerides: High triglyceride levels – 150 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
- Abdominal Obesity: Waist measurement equal to or exceeding 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women.
- Hypertension: Blood pressure higher than 130/85 millimeters of mercury.
- High Density Lipoprotein: Levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) below 40 milligrams per deciliter in men and 50 milligrams per deciliter in women.
According to a study published in the February 2016 edition of the journal Gastroenterology Review, “psoriasis with NAFLD was positively associated with three components of metabolic syndrome: hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and abdominal obesity.” In addition, the researchers found that more obese people with psoriasis had NAFLD compared to those with psoriasis who were not obese. Their findings also indicated that people with psoriasis and NAFLD had higher blood pressure than those that did not have both conditions.
Why This Link Matters
Although both psoriasis and NAFLD are considered to be chronic conditions that do not have cures, recognizing the link between the two is valuable. For those affected by psoriasis, taking steps to prevent metabolic syndrome carries greater urgency. The steps for preventing or reversing metabolic syndrome equate to healthy lifestyle choices such as:
- Eating wisely with a low sugar, complex carbohydrate, low saturated fat, high protein, high fiber, low chemical diet. A majority of Americans would feel better and live longer on the fatty liver diet.
- Exercising regularly by consistently engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity 3 to 5 times per week.
Squelching liver inflammation from NAFLD is possible. Through diet and exercise, excessive weight can be shed, blood pressure can be lowered, fat ratios in your blood can improve and blood sugar can stabilize. This means that every marker of metabolic syndrome can be cleared, reducing the threat of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The journey towards metabolic health is worthwhile – because striving to manage psoriasis poses enough of a challenge, without adding the health hazard of excessive fat inflaming your liver.
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