If you read my posts regularly you will notice that I am a bit of a sceptic about diet and its effect on psoriasis. Sugar is something I have major doubts over as far as psoriasis is concerned. For starters, there is no conclusive proof and no clinical trials have been undertaken, nor is there any specific research (to my knowledge). So when I read about people saying “cut out sugar and your skin will be clear” I do wonder where they get this from, especially if they don’t have psoriasis.
My personal view is that this is linked with your general diet. If you have a high sugar diet the chances are you will become overweight and/or have health issues. I start to sound like a broken record when I say “if you eat healthily then your body is under less stress and you are generally happier, so your skin will improve.” I can’t prove that your general wellbeing is linked to the severity of your psoriasis either, but I can say from experience that when I am healthy my skin is usually clearer. Psoriasis does spoil the party now and then though and flare up even when you think you’re doing well.
As it is generally recognised that too much sugar is bad for you, I had a look at how to reduce your intake. What I also found is that you can eat more healthily just by thinking about how to cut sugar out or by making some simple sugar swaps.
There are a lot of sugar substitutes out there now, Stevia, agave syrup, fruit sugar and the numerous sweeteners. In cooking, very little of these work and the ones I’m told do work cost a fortune. Many of these products are still quite new so little is known about them yet and as I looked into it I found a lot of arguments on the intern for and against them. For example, when I looked for information to support agave syrup being good for you, I found arguments contrasting from it is natural and healthy to it is worse than refined sugar.
Stevia has also often been in the news. This is the substitute used in some cola drinks and depending on who you believe, it is either very healthy or can rot your teeth just as much or even cause cancer. Please note I am not claiming any of this to be true and it shows what a scary place the internet can be. Anyway, my love is food and one thing I know about Stevia is that it is rubbish in cooking.
Personally, I have found agave syrup to be good along with honey and maple syrup. Yes they are sugar, however I find you don’t need too much to make a difference to your food.
How else can you sweeten food?
Use naturally sweet foods. If you look in any rationing cookbook you will find ways to replace sugar, carrots being one of the most common. They are naturally sweet and carrot cake is a common cake in most shops and cafes. Usually they have icing on top though but you can swap this with cream cheese whisked up with orange zest. You could even try a beetroot or sweet potato cake if you’re feeling adventurous, both sweet vegetables which are full of goodness too.
Fruit is always a good ingredient. My previous post about high energy foods contained a lot of fruit in the cooking. I find raisins and sultanas very good and you can load a carrot cake up with these to make it even sweeter.
I do use honey a lot. It’s a natural product and thought to be a better way of having sugar and said to have other health benefits. We have all seen cold cures with honey in them. Just a teaspoon can make all the difference and the same can be said of agave and maple syrups. All three are great for making sticky chilli sausages. Fry up sausages using a healthy oil, add fresh chilli or chilli flakes once cooked then finish off with a little honey or one of the syrups. It melts in the heat so easily coats everything then goes sticky as you take it off the heat.
Slow cooking can be great too. I find using tinned tomatoes in a Bolognese can be a little bitter and many recipes say add a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten this up. Try slow cooking onions, garlic and tomatoes ahead of making your sauce. They will release their natural sugars as they cook and produce a sweeter sauce. You can do this by either roasting everything whole or chopping and cooking on a very low heat stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick.
So I am sorry if you wanted a definitive answer on this subject, the Jury is still out on sugar. Trying to cut it down can’t be a bad thing and if it makes you re-think how you cook then maybe it will just create a healthier you.
For more information on sugar and psoriasis, take a look at Alba’s Post from the Leo Innovation Lab.
This content is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.
UK/IE MAT-03717. Date of preparation: June 2016