In one of the golf tournaments I recently played in, the starter and I got to talking while we were waiting for the group in front of us to clear the fairway. It came to light that I was educated as a kinesiologist and he started to ask me some questions about exercises he could do to improve his psoriatic arthritis pain he experiences when playing golf. In the brief amount of time I had to chat, I mentioned I could show him some things after the round; however, I also mentioned that an anti-inflammatory diet may be his best bet and to look for a practitioner who may be able to help in this regard. I mentioned that wheat specifically can be a major contributor to arthritis and psoriatic symptoms. He seemed receptive and interested to look further into this on his own. Funny thing, after our group hit our first tee shots and were walking down the fairway, the photographer for the event came up to me to ask some more questions about wheat and psoriatic arthritis since his daughter had this condition.
Coincidentally, for a while now, I have actually been planning to write a post on this very topic for a few reasons:
I have read a good deal of information about diet and inflammatory diseases
I love golf, so I know that Phil Mickelson is affected by this condition
I know that psoriatic arthritis falls in a group of conditions collectively know as spondyloarthropathies, and a close relative of mine suffers from another condition, Ankylosing Spondylitis, which also falls within the same diagnostic category.
In the end, this recent situation spurred my interest in this topic once more, and I jumped into doing some more research on it.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis
This condition is an arthritic condition that occurs in some people affected by psoriasis. The condition leads to chronic, multiple or single, joint pains, as well as chronic fatigue symptoms. More detail can be found here. Obviously, as with most conditions, severity can vary from person to person.
Psoriatic Arthritis and the Gut
As many of you already know, psoriatic arthritis and similar conditions are chronic inflammatory conditions. What you also may or may not know is that many of these conditions can be controlled with certain types of diets. There are numerous success stories out there about people curing or controlling chronic inflammatory conditions with a paleo/primal/ancestral approach to diet and lifestyle. But why is this the case? Well, it seems to be due to gut/intestinal inflammation, leaky gut, and reduction in nutrient deficiency. Leaky gut has been tied to many types of inflammatory conditions and it has been shown that increases in intestinal permeability cause systemic inflammation (1, 2).
Psoriatic arthritis and other conditions that fall within the spondyloarthropathies category have been shown to be associated with gut inflammation (3, 4, 5). Some patients even go on to develop overt crohn’s’ disease, leading some researchers to believe these conditions are closely related to each other (4, 5). Even though some individuals who suffer from psoriatic arthritis don’t have any outward gastrointestinal complaints, evidence shows that gut inflammation is likely still present (6).
Psoriatic Arthritis and Diet
Before I start with this section I just want to reiterate that I am not a health care professional, I am simply providing information that I have come across doing my own research. Therefore, if you find this information useful, I have met my goal; however, I would suggest you to find assistance from a qualified practitioner in this area.
In light of the above, we can see that psoriatic arthritis and similar conditions appear to be tied to leaky gut; therefore, it should be obvious that we would want to reduce consumption of foods that are related to leaky gut. Gluten, and other components of wheat, (and other cereal grains for that matter), have been strongly tied to intestinal inflammation and leaky gut (1, 2). Keep in mind I have just listed 2 of many references for this. Excess consumption of fructose has also been linked to leaky gut (7) along with increases in markers of inflammation. However, this does not necessarily mean that whole food sources of fructose (ie. actual pieces of fruit) are unhealthy; however, concentrated forms of fructose like high fructose corn syrup or fruit juice (in large amounts) are not ideal in light of such evidence. Fats also play a role in leaky gut, and contrary to popular belief, saturated fats are not the bad guys. In reality, excess consumption of omega-6 fats appear to increase leaky gut and markers of inflammation (8). What contains omega-6 fats you ask. Industrial seed/nut oils (sunflower, corn, peanut, soy, safflower, cottonseed, canola) are one of the main contributors. Unfortunately, if you live in North America, these type of fats have replaced safer fats like saturated and monounsaturated in majority of food products and restaurants because of the unfortunate, unfounded fear of saturated fat.
Fortunately, a paleo/primal/ancestral type diet eliminates all of the above types of foods, while at the same time focusing on nutrient dense foods that provide our body with all the vitamins and mineral necessary for optimal health. Don’t believe me? Here are some other resources for you:
Want more information on a paleo or primal lifestyle? Come check out my resources page
The Barefoot Golfer