It happens every time.
You’re having a drink with your friends or enjoying a couple of chocolate chip cookies and, as if on cue, your skin flushes red. Your rosacea has flared up again.
Rosacea’s a pain. It starts with little red cheeks and then takes over most of your face, makes your eyes swell up and gives you all sort of sensitivities. Ugh.
You know it, there’s no known cure for rosacea. Topical creams and antibiotics can only soothe the symptoms. But what if you could prevent them in the first place? That’s where the Rosacea Diet comes in.
What’s The Rosacea Diet?
The name says it all: the Rosacea Diet is a meal plan to keep rosacea flares at bay. It removes all potential rosacea triggers from your kitchen and stocks it up on anti-inflammatory foods instead.
Here’s where it gets tricky: not all “trigger foods” automatically trigger rosacea in all rosacea sufferers. Some people, for example, flush red at the mere sip of champagne, while others can drink a whole glass without problems.
So how do you figure out which foods trigger rosacea in you? Keep a log. Pick one food from the banned list and jot down in your journal how your skin reacts to it. If after a few days, your skin’s fine, chances are it’s safe for you. If it makes you flush red, it’s a trigger for you, too. Avoid!
Let’s see what common “trigger foods” are not allowed on the Rosacea Diet, shall we?
Foods to avoid
Sugar And Processed Foods
Come on, you knew this was coming. Sugar is the number two enemy of the skin (only UV rays are worse!). For starters, it causes glycation, a fancy way of saying it destroys collagen and gives you wrinkles.
Like that weren’t bad enough, sugar also triggers chronic inflammation in the skin. Same goes for processed foods (which, by the way, are often loaded with sugar). Binge on them and a rosacea flare-up is guaranteed. Here are the worst culprits:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
- Processed vegetable oils
- Refined sugars
- Soda drinks
- Starchy vegetables
- Sugary sweets
- White flour
Another bummer, I know! Why are all the best things bad for skin?!
Alcohol is one of the worst culprits. Half the adults with rosacea report that drinking alcohol makes their rosacea worse. The worst part? You don’t even have to get drunk. The tiniest drop of alcohol is enough to trigger a flare-up. Here’s what’s on the banned list:
- Hard liquor
Is there anything better than a cup of warm, freshly-brewed coffee in the morning? If you’ve got rosacea, yes. Any hot drink that increases your body temperature - even just a little - may very well trigger another flare-up. Here’s what to avoid:
- Hot chocolate
- Hot cider
- Hot coffee
- Hot tea
Tempted to add a spicy kick to your salad? Don’t.
Spicy foods are even worse than alcohol. They trigger a rosacea flare-up in 75% of sufferers!
Blame it on capsaicin and cynnamaldehye, two chemicals in spices that gives them their “heat” and your body a warming sensation. Any foods with them spell trouble for your delicate skin.
Here’s where these two chemicals are hiding:
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili oils
- Chili pepper
- Hot sauce
- Red pepper
- Tabasco pepper
- White pepper
Ever heard of histamine? It’s a natural chemical in your body that can cause flushing. Like, the last thing your skin needs, right?
Some foods have their own in-built histamine. Others mess with you in your body, triggering it to make more histamine, just because. Either way, they make the redness, flushing and swelling worse. Here’s the foods to be aware of:
- Citrus fruits
- Cow’s milk
- Cured meats (think bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs…)
- Dried fruits
- Smoked fish
- Sour cream
At this point, you may feel like you’re not allowed to eat anything. That’s not true! There’s still A LOT of delicious foods you can add to your plate. So, let’s (finally!) take a look at what you can munch on on the Rosacea Diet.
Foods To Eat
If rosacea is an inflammatory condition, it makes sense that adding as many anti-inflammatory ingredients to your diet can keep it under control. But how do you spot the foods?
Anything with omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and avocado - will do the job. Omega-3 soothe inflammation and hydrate your skin to boot. If avocado did not trigger a flare, then you can, and should, take advantage of all it's goodness.
The colour of the food is another clue. The antioxidants that give berries, grapes & co. their deep, bright hues double up as anti-inflammatories that can calm down irritations and redness.
Here’s a list of anti-inflammatory foods to add to your shopping list now:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
Did you know that bad bacteria could have something to do with your rosacea? When they take over the good bacteria in your gut flora, the imbalance triggers inflammation.
Probiotics are foods enriched with millions of tiny good bacteria that can restore equilibrium in your gut and keep the bad bacteria in check so they won’t outgrow again. Here’s where you can find them:
- Pickled fruits and vegetables
- Probiotics-enriched yogurts
And making your own fermented veggies is not difficult at all, if you want to give it a try! Most recipes simply call for a clean jar, your veggie of choice, and some salt water.
Probiotics aren’t the only way to maintain the right bacterial balance in your diet. Foods rich in fiber, such as onions and kale, help the good bacteria in your gut flora multiply. It’s all about creating a healthy environment. Make your gut more hospitable to good rather than bad bacteria and you’ve won half the battle already.
P.S. These foods are called prebiotics. Here’s where you can find them:
- Dandelion greens
- Onions (raw and cooked)
- Whole grains
The Rosacea Diet isn’t that different from any other balanced diet. Stay away from sugar and processed foods, beware of spicy foods and alcohol and eat your five portions of the rainbow a day. The more anti-inflammatory foods your skin gets, the lower the chance of another rosacea flare-up.
Do you have any tips that help you control your rosacea? We'd love to hear about it in the comments.