Managing Rosacea With Diet
Rosacea is an extremely common skin condition that affects a huge sector of the population particularly prevalent with caucasians of English, Scottish and Irish origin as well as other ethnicities. This article focuses on managing Rosacea with diet.
Rosacea is a chronic condition which is treatable but not curable. It may be controlled by certain products and lifestyle choices.
What does Rosacea look like?
Rosacea is characterised by facial redness, particularly on the cheeks and nose. The condition usually occurs in stages.
In the early stages the individual will notice frequent blushing. This often occurs as a child. The flushing then becomes more common and may become permanent. The face may have diffuse redness or there may be visible blood vessels (telangiectasia) present.
Rosacea may progress to a condition called Acne Rosacea whereby the individual suffers from small red bumps. This looks like acne but there are no blackheads or whiteheads evident and if squeezed and clear fluid exudes.
If left untreated, Rosacea may progress to a condition called Rhinophyma where the nose becomes red and bulbous. It may also affect the eyes in advanced cases.
How is Rosacea and Diet linked?
The old saying that “beauty is more than skin deep” has never been truer than when you are dealing with a skin disease such as Rosacea. Skin diseases are reflections of overall health. It is well-known, for example, that people who eat a non-Western diet have fewer skin diseases: including Rosacea, Acne, Eczema and others. This is because non-Western diets focus on more fruits and vegetables and fewer sugars, grains, and processed foods. People eating a non-Western diet are healthier than the average Australian and their skin shows it.
Brady Barrows and author of a book on diet and Rosacea, called Rosacea Diet: A simple method to control Rosacea, commented on the relationship between processed foods and Rosacea:
As the processed food industry of the developed world makes inroads into the underdeveloped world the result is a diet producing obesity. Rosacea during this same period has increased dramatically worldwide. The current number of Americans with Rosacea is over 14 million.
There is a healthy path to clearer skin and, while it may take more effort on your part the results will be dramatic and long-lasting.
What you need to recognise about triggers is that they point to you in the right direction: Triggers tell you that Rosacea is a whole-body disease and not just a skin disease.
The Gut and the Skin
While it can sound strange, there is actually a very close relationship between the health of your digestive tract and the health of your skin. Some researchers have gone as far as to say that inflammation or the rash on the face means that there is also inflammation throughout the gut.
Although the precise etiology of Rosacea is not known, numerous associations with inflammatory gastrointestinal tract disorders have been reported. Furthermore, substance P-immunoreactive neurones occur in considerably greater numbers in tissue surrounding affected blood vessels suggesting involvement of neurogenic inflammation and moreover plasma kallikrein-kinin activation is consistently found in patients.
While there is a lot of technical jargon in the quote above, it is basically saying that there is a close relationship between inflammatory conditions of the gut (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or even Celiac disease) including body-wide inflammation and a disease like rosacea.
Slow transit time, better known as constipation, has also been known to be associated with rosacea. In a recent study, researchers treated a rosacea patient with slow transit time and saw a complete removal of his symptoms. This study, while incredibly small, shows the relationship between gut health and Rosacea.
Other studies on diet and Rosacea have also been performed. A vegetarian alkaline diet was shown to dramatically reduce the symptoms of Rosacea over two months. Not only did the symptoms of Rosacea reduce or disappear in almost every participant, but eating an alkaline diet also reduced body-wide inflammation in the participants.
Consistent supplementation with probiotics is also recommended because of some inconclusive but interesting scientific observations connecting rosacea and the stomach germ helicobacter pylori. Eating probiotic rich foods regularly may help diminish the presence of this organism in the gastrointestinal tract.
Acid Base Balance is the Key
A whole-body approach to Rosacea recognises that what you put into your mouth matters and what you eat can affect your health and the look of your skin. A whole-body approach is also an understanding that the body needs balance in order to thrive, and that most of what we typically eat puts us way out of balance.
The basic balance in your body is called the acid/base or acid/alkaline balance. You might have heard of pH balance, but not known what it is exactly. Every food that we eat has a certain pH: it is either a low pH (1 —7) and considered an acid, or it is a high pH (7-14) and considered a base. Water is right in the middle; it is not either an acid or a base. Your body likes to mimic water and keep its own pH close to neutral as possible; the blood, for instance, is slightly basic (pH of 7.3—7.4).
It is this at this neutral or slightly alkaline pH that your body functions its best.
When your body is in an acidic state, instead of the natural alkaline state, it doesn’t function well. This means that the body’s basic mechanisms such as detoxification, elimination, and repair all don’t function as they should. When these mechanisms fail, the result is disease, in your case, this means that Rosacea once again flairs up.
This acid problem is made worse by many of the activities we engage in: eating poorly, not sleeping well, and feeling stressed… all of these push us to an acidic state.
Since many of the activities you engage in push you towards a more acidic state, you have to develop an action plan to push back. The easiest way to do this is to eat a diet that is more alkaline. While you do not have to eat a purely vegetarian diet, you do want to include a large number of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Much like giving a car the right fuel, our bodies thrive when we give it what it needs. Interestingly, eating an alkaline diet not only means that your body is more in the proper balance, but it is also getting more of the nutrients your body needs.
Diet—far from being just a source of potential triggers for Rosacea—is actually the key to a permanent solution to the disease. Eating an alkaline diet means that in as little as a few weeks, your skin should start looking better and you will feel much better.
Rosacea Rescue Diet
The best diet for someone with Rosacea is an alkaline diet. Here are the basics to an alkaline diet:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, in fact they should outnumber and outweigh all the other food that you eat.
- Avoid acid-forming foods such as grains, sugar and many meats. Of the three (grains, sugar and meat), meat is the most allowable because it can be easily balanced by a large amount of vegetables or fruit.
- Drink plenty of fresh clean water.
- Make sure you are getting enough of the essential nutrients your body needs; supplement if you have to, your body may need the additional nutrients.
- Avoid cooked fats, trans fats, and fried foods.
- Avoid dairy foods.
- Avoid Gluten
While not a complete list, here are the most common acid and alkaline foods:
Acid-forming foods: alcoholic drinks, breads, cake, coffee, cereals, crackers, grains (except millet and quinoa), vinegar, eggs, oils or foods cooked in oils, meat, seafood and fish, nuts, seeds, pastas, salt, sugar, tofu
Alkaline-forming foods: fresh fruit, vegetable, salad green, sprouts, raw cider vinegar, lima beans, potatoes, citrus fruits, millet, quinoa
When following this diet, you don’t want to completely avoid all acid-forming foods, but you want to balance them with as many alkaline-forming foods as possible. A good rule of thumb is to have a meal of 80 percent alkaline-forming foods and 20 percent acid-forming foods.
Other Helpful Tools
Don’t just stop at changing your diet, there are other ways to keep your body in an alkaline state. Try the rest of these for an added punch to your anti-rosacea diet:
- Manage stress
- Take probiotics
- Detoxify your body
- Drink enough water
- Add fiber to your diet
- Avoid coffee, tea, trans fats, alcohol, cigarettes, fried foods
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, some have been blamed on causing rosacea
- Eat lots of berries
- Maximize nutrition with a multivitamins
- Take digestive enzymes
- Make sure you get enough EFAs
- Avoid specific foods that make your Rosacea flare up. These are different for each person. The obvious foods triggers for most rosacea patients are spicy foods and alcohol. There are other less obvious culprits however. Just yesterday a Rosacea patient told me she figured out her flare ups were triggered by avocados. When she gave them up her face cleared. When she did a re-challenge, her skin broke out again. Other examples include hot beverages, dairy foods, citrus fruit foods, chocolate, vanilla, soy sauce, vinegar, spinach, some beans and eggplant. Try to notice if there are any specific food types that seem to be associated with your skin’s flare ups. When you think that you’ve identified a trigger food try avoiding it and observe your skin for changes. If your Rosacea calms down, confirm your suspicion with a re-challenge. If your skin flares up again you may have identified one of your true food triggers
- Stress triggers Rosacea. Most Rosacea patents turn beet red when they are upset, embarrassed or nervous. The pimples and inflammatory rash of Rosacea often follow. Rosacea also flares up during the holidays, which for many of us are stressful. Doing what you can to avoid or manage your stress level is important when you have Rosacea. Some options include meditation, yoga, biofeedback, taking time to be outdoors, spending time with friends who don’t cause you stress, being less demanding of yourself and living life more slowly etc.
- Temperature extremes, sun and strong chapping wind can trigger Rosacea. This includes saunas and hot tubs as well as the weather and indoor temperatures. It also includes intense exercise that can cause you to get overheated.
- Facial flushing conditions such as menopausal hot flashes and niacin supplement flushing can cause rosacea flare ups too.
Despite what you may think, you don’t have to live with Rosacea; as your body becomes healthier, so too, will your skin. The side effects of a choosing an alkaline diet is not only that you have healthier skin, but your whole body will feel better.
For more information about reducing and coping with the effect of Rosacea, contact The Dripclub or seek a nutritionalist.
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