Study: Modified Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Skin Symptoms in Patients with Psoriasis

Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor

Study participants who fasted 2 days per week reported fewer scaling and thickening, with 30% also reporting a decrease in itching associated with psoriasis.

New research presented at the EADV Spring Symposium has found promising results in the ability of modified intermittent fasting (MIF) to improve skin symptoms in patients with psoriasis, according to a press release.

Psoriasis is a chronic, systemic immune-mediated inflammatory disease that causes raised plaques and scales on the skin’s surface. It impacts between 2% and 3% of the global adult population and fewer than 1% of children. Until recently, the investigators said the effect of dietary interventions on psoriasis has been rarely researched.

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

MIF is a form of fasting that requires participants to restrict caloric intake for a certain amount of time. The investigators said it is often viewed as a more manageable form of fasting that can be adjusted to accommodate patients’ lifestyles. Popular MIF diets include fasting for 16 hours per day and eating during an 8-hour window (16:8) or eating normally for 5 days and restricting caloric intake for 2 days (5:2). The latter was used as the dietary intervention for this study.

Investigators enrolled 24 participants, with a group of 12 participants instructed to modify their diet with MIF for 12 weeks while the other participants continued their regular diet. The fasting group were asked to consume a total of 500 kcal twice per week on 2 non-consecutive days but were free to consume their usual daily calorie intake for the remaining 5 days of the week. During the trial, 2 patients were excluded due to the start of antibiotic use and loss of follow-up, respectively.

Objectively, the researchers found that the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) and Body Surface Area (BSA) measurements did not differ significantly between fasting and regular diet, although PASI reduced in the fasting group. Waist circumference and weight were comparable at 6 weeks but reduced significantly in the fasting group at week 12 compared to the control group.

Furthermore, the fasting subjects reported significant improvements more frequently at weeks 6 and 12, including less scaling and thickening, with 30% of patients also reporting a decrease in itching. The study will be completed at the end of June, according to the press release.

“The effect of dietary interventions on skin health is a stimulating field of research in dermatology,” said Marie-Aleth Richard, MD, a professor at the University Hospital of La Timone, in the press release. “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.”

REFERENCE

5:2 diet helps reduce skin symptoms in Psoriasis patients [news release]. EurekAlert; May 6, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/sc-5dh050521.php. Accessed May 10, 2021.