It's thought that one in 10 people suffer from rosacea in the UK, but the crazy thing is that many of them don't know it. What's even more troubling is that like acne, rosacea often gives way to lack of self-confidence, according to 90% of patients in a survey. Some 51% of respondents had even said that they missed work because of the condition. While rosacea can be emotionally debilitating and currently has no cure, there are steps you can take to diminish its appearance, starting with (most importantly) your diet.
Many foods and drinks trigger the inflammatory response brought on by the condition—like flare-ups, redness, dilated blood vessels and thickening of the skin. We tapped the brains of Ayurvedic expert Shrankhla Holecek of UMA Oils; Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care (who also happens to have rosacea); and Michele J. Farber of Schweiger Dermatology Group to figure out which foods are the best and the worst for individuals with rosacea. Keep reading for their tips.
Foods to Avoid If You Have Rosacea
Pungent or sour vegetables like tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant, onions, radishes and spinach
Drinks such as alcohol and hot coffee or tea, which can dilate blood vessels and contribute to facial redness
Foods that release histamine, such as citrus fruits
Sugars and starches, which, Tanzi says, cause her bumps and redness
Warming spices like ginger, cumin, black pepper, fenugreek and cloves (each causes an anti-inflammatory response)
Foods to Eat If You Have Rosacea
Bland vegetables like asparagus, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans and zucchini
Soothing spices like coriander, cardamom, saffron and fennel
Salmon, which contains omega-3s are a superfood for anti-inflammation and are incredible for decreasing redness
Goat cheese is a good source of protein but easy to digest and acts as an anti-inflammatory
Turkey or chicken, in moderation
Non-citrus fruits like grapes, melons and mango
Ghee, an Indian clarified butter that aids in proper immune system function
As a whole, Holecek recommends eating a diet made up of 25% to 35% fresh vegetables, 25% to 35% protein (like tofu, tempeh, cottage cheese, egg whites and white meat) and the remaining percentage of the following grains: oats, sprouted wheat bread, barley, granola, amaranth, cooked oats, white rice and tapioca. Farber adds that low-sugar foods and complex carbohydrates are helpful to the skin, while high-glycemic foods, refined sugars and foods that are high in saturated fats can be triggers for the inflammation of acne and rosacea.
Tanzi's favourite meal for her rosacea is what she calls a salmon asparagus roll-up. "For skin purposes, it's amazing because the salmon is anti-inflammatory, the goat cheese is easy to digest and the whole thing is low-carb, which is helpful for anyone with acne or rosacea. It's an all-around winner," she says. To make the roll-ups, sauté two tablespoons of shallots with 1/4 cup of chopped asparagus in olive oil. Mix with four ounces of fresh chèvre (goat cheese) and add salt and pepper to taste. Place equal dollops of the filling in thin, sushi-grade salmon slices, and then roll. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
It's almost impossible to completely eliminate flare-ups, but following this diet advice is definitely sure to help.