Published on | by redblob3
Why Eskimos Don’t Get Psoriasis (It’s The Fish!)
The Eskimo psoriasis rate is tiny. And its all because of that fatty fish.
When you look at statistics for psoriasis across all nationalities and ethnicities, one group immediately jumps out as special – the Eskimos. In comparison to mostly everyone else, they have a remarkably low incidence rate of psoriasis. Only 1% of Eskimos are affected by this debilitating skin disorder, but why, and what can we learn for our own psoriasis battles?
Greenland Eskimos first captured the attention of Danish researchers in the 1970s, when they noticed that these tough indigenous tribes had very low occurrences of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders – including psoriasis. They linked this to the most obvious difference in the day-to-day life of a typical Eskimo – their special diet.
Remember those cartoons with Eskimos ice fishing, sitting around a little hole with wooden rods in their hands? They’re not so funny now!
Eskimos don’t get psoriasis because of fish and tasty blubber!
The normal Eskimo diet consists of plenty of seafood – up to a pound a day of whale, seal and walrus meat (including blubber!), and generous helpings of salmon, whitefish and other fish. The fish is either cooked, dried, smoked or eaten raw.
It’s special because most seafood is super rich in long chain omega-3 fats, which are known to be anti-inflammatory. Western diets, in comparison, are severely lacking in this department.
And the findings are across the board. Researcher also looked into the diets of Inuit Greenlanders and other tribes such as the Yup’iks of Alaska and the Siberian Inuits, and found that they eat shiploads of fish, and don’t really get psoriasis!
Why are omega-3 oils important for curbing psoriasis?
Here is a quick breakdown of the reason. People with psoriasis have been found to have unusually high levels of a fat called arachidonic acid, which is predominantly made from omega-6 acids.
This acid is known to cause inflammation and aggravate psoriasis. Guess what has the reverse affect? That’s right – omega-3! By eating so much fish, Eskimos help to regulate the over-production of omega-6, thus keeping their inflammation under control and safeguarding themselves from skin disorders such as psoriasis.
Whilst you can’t just build an igloo or pack your bags, buy a ticket to Alaska or Siberia, and join a tribe, you can always make changes to your diet to incorporate more omega-3 rich foods.
The best way of doing this is to eat oily fish, such as mackerel, herring, trout and salmon (No, fish fingers don’t count!). Canned tuna is a good alternative, just make sure to get water-packed rather than oil-packed tuna (so you can avoid omega-6 vegetable oil).
I’ve personally noticed that, since eating home-cooked fish 2-3 times a week, my psoriasis patches are much lighter, smoother and less itchy. Plus, I love seafood, so I don’t mind picking through bones or errant scales.
Apart from eating fish, an easy route to take is to supplement with fish oil capsules. Just make sure they have a high EPA content (eicosapentanoic acid) as it is the one most beneficial for psoriasis. The normal recommended dosage is 300-1000 milligrams, but taking up to 3000 milligrams is necessary for flakers to see a noticeable affect. There are also vegetarian sources of omega-3 – in green leafy vegetables and linseed oil. Make sure to give it a few weeks before deciding if its helping or not.
Next time you feel hungry, or “Kish-tu-ah” as Western Eskimos say, get the fish out you land lubber!