As effective as light therapy has been for my rosacea symptoms control, it’s far from the only thing I do to keep my redness (etc, etc) at bay. One of the areas I’ve found to be very helpful for me is my diet. This includes both avoiding triggers and eating foods to encourage healthy skin, that have anti-inflammatory properties and that support nutrition as a whole. This also includes drinking lots of water.
In my humble patient-level opinion, keeping rosacea under control isn’t a matter of a pill or a cream on its own. Those treatments, like light therapy, can be quite helpful. However, it takes lifestyle changes for me to really keep my symptoms down. I talked about the steps I take in an average day in my “A Day in the Rosy Life” blog post a little while ago on my blog site.
That said, what works for me may not be what works for you. What works for you may not be what works for me. There isn’t one diet that works for all rosacea patients. Therefore, I thought I’d make a bit of a list of the types of diets I know rosacea patients use. This is far from complete, but it lists some of the structured diets I’ve seen discussed the most in the forums and websites I use to inform myself and where I participate.
There are a number of different kinds of diet that have been attempted and that many rosacea sufferers swear by.
The following are some of the most common types of rosacea diet strategy.
Please note that this is not medical advice. It is not meant as a recommendation. It’s meant to help share information I’ve discovered over the years and that I thought you might find interesting and helpful. Always talk to your doctor before making major dietary or health changes.
Rosacea Trigger Diet
This isn’t a diet in itself. Instead, it is a means of identifying the food triggers of your rosacea symptoms so that you can minimize or eliminate their consumption in the future. The National Rosacea Society recommends that a diary be kept over time to help to track the foods that are eaten and the symptoms that occur, so that patterns can be identified over time.
This method takes longer than an elimination diet, but it means that you don’t necessarily have to make any major changes to the foods that you eat unless they are shown to be triggers for your symptoms.
Once triggers are identified, the idea is to keep exposure to them at a minimum so that you won’t cause symptoms to occur as a result of what you eat.
H. Pylori Rosacea Diet
There is a solid body of evidence that indicates that there is a link between rosacea symptoms and an overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori in the digestive system. H. pylori is the bacteria that is often the cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach inflammation, some ulcers and gastritis (according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse) and its presence has also been connected with an increased risk of rosacea-prone skin.
Therefore, many people feel that a diet to reduce or kill H. pylori can help to minimize the symptoms of rosacea as well. This type of diet helps to reduce or heal an infection of that type of bacteria in the stomach lining.
This type of diet involves the consumption of a spectrum of fresh fruits and veggies, particularly those that are high in antioxidants such as vitamins A and C.
Carotenoids are also to be eaten in large quantities. This would involve consuming lots of foods such as carrots, legumes, sweet potatoes, spinach, blueberries, strawberries and broccoli, among others. That said, it if any of those foods are known triggers for rosacea symptoms, they should be skipped.
Flavenoids from cranberries, onions, celery and apples are also to be regularly consumed.
Other foods recommended for this type of rosacea diet include dark leafy greens, sweet peppers, melons and watercress. Lean proteins are preferred over fatty ones.
At the same time, foods that should be avoided on an H. pylori diet include sugary foods (including those made with refined sugar, raw sugar, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup and others), dairy, chocolate, red meat, pickles, fast food, processed food, excess salt and alcoholic beverages.
Anti-Inflammatory Rosacea Diet
Another potential cause of rosacea symptoms is believed to be certain chronic inflammatory conditions. This includes a broad range of different health concerns that range from heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease and a long list in between. Inflammation is essentially swelling in the body. When the body swells, it produces local heat, redness, swelling and even stinging and/or pain in the affected area.
This helps to explain why the skin of people with inflammatory conditions may be rosacea-prone and why many people choose to follow an anti-inflammatory diet in order to help to correct the symptoms.
An anti-inflammatory diet is essentially made up of an effort to eat foods that are known to help reduce inflammation while avoiding foods that are known to cause inflammation. The main focus of the diet is to provide the body with nutrient dense meals and snacks made up of a lot of variety, for complete nutrition. The main principles of this kind of diet are to eat as much fresh food as possible, to eat a wide variety of foods, to reduce or eliminate fast food and processed foods and to focus primarily on fruits and vegetables. Lots of water is also recommended on this diet.
Bacteria/Fungus/Yeast Overgrowth Rosacea Diet
Some studies have linked the existence of rosacea symptoms with a bacteria or Candida albicans overgrowth in the small intestine. This has led many people to choose a probiotic rosacea diet to help to boost the “good” flora while pushing out the “bad” flora in the digestive tract.
This type of diet is quite similar to the anti-inflammatory diet. It limits many inflammatory foods such as starches, complex carbs, refined sugars, red meat, saturated fat and other foods that feed harmful gut bacteria.
This diet leans toward nutrient-rich foods such as veggies and fruits that are deeply pigmented. It also encourages the consumption of good sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as chia seeds, flax seeds and wild salmon.
Though you may be inclined to reach for (plain) probiotic yogurt to help to boost the healthful bacteria in your digestive tract, it is recommended that you do this with care as many people find that yogurt (or dairy as a whole) is a rosacea trigger. If this is not the case for you, then it could indeed be helpful.
There is also a considerable amount of controversy over probiotic supplements. It is highly recommended that you speak with your doctor before taking them so that you will take them only if there is a chance that they will help you, and to help you to choose a good quality product over a large number of lower quality options. Natural sources of probiotics from whole foods – kefir, sauerkraut (the refrigerated type, not shelf-stable as the good bacteria has been cooked out), miso, tempeh, high quality dark chocolate, kimchi and kombucha tea – are always preferable to supplementation, but if you must take supplements, work with your doctor to make sure you do it right.
Other recommendations on this type of rosacea diet include taking apple cider vinegar to help to supplement the stomach acids levels that are usually low among rosacea-prone people, eating bitter foods as they help to boost digestion and avoid spicy foods.
Autoimmune Diet for Rosacea
Some research has indicated that people who have certain autoimmune disorders have an increased risk of rosacea. Therefore, if you have rosacea and certain other risk factors for an autoimmune disorder, it may be worth your while to be tested. Among the most common autoimmune disorders linked with rosacea symptoms are Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.
It is important to receive a diagnosis from your doctor before you start a diet specific to an autoimmune condition. That way, you will know that you are taking the right steps to help to reduce your symptoms of that condition as well as of rosacea, without causing other potential health risks in the process.
If you do receive a diagnosis, ask your doctor what you can do in terms of eating the right diet for your condition. If you don’t receive enough information to be able to apply it practically in your life, consider consulting with a nutritionist or dietitian who specializes in that condition. Be sure to let that healthcare professional know that you are also hoping to combat your rosacea symptoms.
Though there may not be a single rosacea diet that is applicable to everyone with this skin disorder, learning more about your health and nutrition, working with your doctor and/or dermatologist, and choosing foods that are appropriate to your unique nutritional needs can go a long way to helping to maintain your health while keeping your rosacea symptoms at bay and to get the most out of your prescription, skin care, light therapy and other efforts you’re making.