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4 Ways to Boost Your Immune System When You Have Psoriasis

Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI on September 22, 2016Written by Mary Baucom on September 22, 2016
Psoriasis

As the long summer nights fade into the chilly evenings of fall, suntans and shades give way to coughing and sneezing. The first signs of the cold and flu season are upon us.

If you have psoriasis, your immune system is already at a disadvantage. That’s because psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system in which the body mistakenly launches an inflammatory response. But just because you have psoriasis doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to the common cold.

Here are four ways to stay healthy this cold and flu season while living with psoriasis.

1. Eat more kale salads.

Or, really just more leafy greens and cruciferous veggies in general. Salad greens, such as spinach, Swiss chard, and kale, as well as broccoli and cabbage, are full of rich vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that they contain special immune-boosting compounds too. Filling your plate with these nutritious foods may help protect you from unwanted viruses, pollens, and more.

Research needs to be done to confirm the link between these types of foods and psoriasis, but paying more attention to these greens and veggies certainly won’t hurt. Try adding a handful of greens to your morning smoothie, or if you’re a real daredevil, sneak some raw spinach into to a regular brownie recipe like nutritionist and registered dietitian Cynthia Sass did in this recipe.

2. Sanitize in a new way.

When you have psoriasis, the last thing you want to do is rub an alcohol-based sanitizer on your hands. While this formula can be a convenient way to wash away germs, it can be irritating for people with psoriasis. Washing your hands with plain water and old-fashioned soap is always best, but essential oil and all-natural hand sanitizers are also available. Ask your dermatologist about the best products for you.

3. Try turmeric.

What do curry, yellow rice, and golden milk have in common? They all contain turmeric, a bright yellow spice that’s part of the ginger family and used in many Asian and Indian dishes. Turmeric contains curcumin, a healing substance that’s responsible for most of this spice’s medical benefits, including its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research has shown that this spice may also help boost immune health. Try sprinkling it on baked chicken or fish to give it some added color and flavor, or make your own DIY face mask with flour, milk, and honey for some instant, soothing relief. Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk with your dermatologist before trying any home remedy for your condition.

4. Set up an exercise routine.

Regular exercise is a key part of healthy living, which means staying well and in tip-top shape. But if you have psoriasis, sweating can be your worst nightmare and trigger more flare-ups.

Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises that can keep you healthy without huffing and puffing. Swimming and water aerobics are good options if chlorine doesn’t aggravate you. Walking in the evening hours — when the sun isn’t out — is another good choice. Lifting weights or taking a low-key cardio class are also worth a shot. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy so you can make it a part of your long-term plan.

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