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Plan your diet for beautiful skin

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We are presenting a review series – “Your skin and your diet” – to discuss the possibility that changing what we eat everyday can help to attain a beautiful, healthy complexion. We believe that the first thing a person with rosacea-like symptoms should do is to see a dermatologist and then follow the dermatologist's prescribed medical skin care. However, a rosacea sufferer can approach diet as a way to possibly improve the skin appearance. In this issue we discuss data published by the National Institute of Health and the National Rosacea Society, and other sources, indicating that rosacea skin appearance can be improved by avoiding certain foods and food products.

           Your skin and your diet.                                         Plan your own healthy skin diet.

A healthy, balanced diet is a big concern in societies where abundance of food products does not necessarily lead to good food choices or good eating habits.  An excess of calories, highly processed food, or animal and modified plant fat are all calls for concern about general health in modern societies, as are a lack of fruits and vegetables in the everyday diet.

Proper diet has a special, personal aspect for people with rosacea.   It has been well established that although rosacea cannot be cured, dietary changes may be helpful for rosacea skin (read in the Noredol® News No. 7, 2007).

From the experiences of countless numbers of people, whether self-recorded or collected by physicians, the common rosacea food triggers have been identified.  They make a rosacea triggers list with a broad range of possible culprits.  That “watch list” can be used as a basis for creating a personal triggers list and setting individual dietary changes

Rosacea food triggers can be classified into several categories:

          •  Spicy food and spicy food ingredients;
          •  Some fruits;
          •  Coffee and tea and drinks containing caffeine;
          •  Alcohol and alcohol drinks.

Spicy food and spicy ingredients can increase blood flow in the face, and as result induce or aggravate rosacea flare-ups.  According to The National Rosacea Society survey, those affected by spicy food listed hot peppers as a top trigger for their rosacea flare-ups (62% of surveyed).  Hot peppers were followed by Mexican-style foods (52%), chili (48%) and salsa (46%).  Similarly, 45% survey respondents blamed hot sausage, and 43% said Cajun style foods triggered or aggravated their rosacea signs and symptoms.

Spicy ingredients often listed as flare-up triggers include some hot sauces (66% of the responding) and chili powder (49%).  Interestingly, in the pepper family of spices, red pepper was found to be the most offensive (53%).  By comparison, table black pepper and paprika affected fewer respondents (22% and 15%, respectively).  Horseradish is also on the list (32% of those affected by spicy food), as well as barbecue sauce (28%) and tomato juice (25%), MSG (24%), curry (23%), vinegar (19%), meat marinades (18%) and mustard (13%).

There are fewer testimonials about specific fruits, as they seem to be the most personal among rosacea triggers.  Raspberries, strawberries and blueberries as well as tomatoes are the culprits mentioned most often and, as such, should be put on the watch list.

There are strong indications that coffee, tea and caffeine containing drinks are powerful and quite common rosacea triggers.  It is difficult to say which of the many kinds of teas are most offensive or which coffee brand should be particularly avoided.  However, tea and coffee, as well as cafeine-containing drinks, are in almost everybody’s diet and should be the first to be screened.

Alcohol is known to increase blood flow and make the face red, however, alcohol itself is not the cause of rosacea.  For those who have rosacea and drink, the resulting increased blood flow obviously can induce flare-ups and aggravate existing skin conditions.  For that reason alcohol and alcoholic drinks also should be put on the triggers watch list.

Fortunately, a rosacea sufferer is rarely affected by every possible dietary trigger.  The best method to find personal triggers is to proceed through a research process.  Begin with the watch list and diligently keep a diary of foods eaten and the accompanying skin conditions.  Using such a food diary is the best way to find personal food triggers and once the culprits are identified, a proper, well balanced diet can be worked out and implemented. For those who decide to find their personal triggers, the data from Brady Barrows' rosacea diet should be encouraging: over 90% of those surveyed were able to modify their eating habits to avoid personal trigger foods and 87% said this helped to reduce their rosacea flare-ups (www.rosacea-diet.com).

While working to create a well balanced, rosacea-safe diet, one should remember to include a good supply of vitamin B12, vitamin C, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil.  Omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil have anti-inflammatory actions; vitamin C minimizes histamine release and reinforces small blood vessels; and vitamin B12 and flaxseed oil promote skin repair.  All these can help to keep rosacea signs under control.

And one more thing to remember - avoid hot (thermally) dishes and drinks – they will warm your skin and cause small blood vessels in the face expand, promoting facial redness and aggravating the rosacea skin condition.

Coping with a chronic skin condition
– e.g. rosacea or any other symptoms or irritability - means first you must understand the condition and possibly seek medical help from a specialist (dermatologist).  Next teps should include trying to be well informed on how to take care for your skin everyday and how to adjust your life style to avoid factors and situations, like diet and activities, that possibly may trigger or aggravate your skin condition.

A questionnaire for those who want to design their own healthy skin diet should be a “common sense questionnaire”.  Here are some common sense questions and advice that can help:

          •  Watch your skin.  Always pay attention to any change – improvement or worsening.
          •  Note the food or situation when changes take place.If you especially are concerned
with food, try to remember what you ate on the “bad” days versus “good” days.
          •  Be informed – listen to what other people say about their experiences with
certain foods, food products, dishes or cousins.
          •  Read what specialists have to say about diets they recommend for certain skin conditions.
          •  Confront this collected information with your own experiences. Perform your
own experiments to find your food culprits that trigger the bad complexion days for you.
          •  Be persistent, diligent and don't get easily discouraged by the results. For quite
a number of people, eliminating some trigger food helped significantly with their skin problems and it also may help you.

We suggest using our Personal Triggers: Notes form to keep a record of personal food culprits.  To share your record with us so we can share it with our readers – please press the Send button. Thank you!

                                 Print Personal Triggers: Notes form for your Triggers Diary

Personal Triggers: Notes

Spicy Food





Hot Peppers
Mexican Style         Food
Hot Sausage
Cajun-Style         Food

Hot Sauces
Chili Powder
Red Pepper
Black Pepper
Barbecue         Sauce
Tomato Juice
Meat         Marinades




Coffee         Drinks

Caffeine         Drinks



Tea         Drinks

Other         Liquors

Red Wine
White Wine
Sparkling         Wine

Alcoholic         Drinks


My own triggers - not found in the Notes



Looking at the list of rosacea triggers, one can see that all listed food items derive from plants. Even tea, a plant product with proven beneficial health effects is a frequent offender, triggering the appearance of all sorts of nasty red bumps on the face.  It is difficult to be on a vegetarian diet for a person with rosacea.  One can even question if a vegetarian diet is appropriate for us, the Rosaceans.  Perhaps following the Atkins-like diet might be a prudent choice for a person with rosacea.  However, I will leave this choice to others.  Myself, I like to eat even the forbidden fruits.  How to handle the triggers?  The first and best recipe is to avoid them.  The second best option is to consume triggers during main meals, like lunch or dinner.  This way one can dilute the offensive food and possibly limit its triggering capacity.  Though I did not perform any study on this advice, it's just casual observations.  And when you do ingest triggers (this sounds like eating tigers…), do not exaggerate.  Limit your strawberries, and limit your coffee or tea to no more than one cup.  When evaluating your “sinful” consumption, please remember it takes two days to see on your face the results of splurging on "forbidden fruits".
Also, make a note that caffeine and caffeinated drinks are on the list of triggers. Does your favored drink contain caffeine?

Yours, Piotr Chomczynski


     •    Take your vitamin C.  Make your skin beautifully happy.

     •    Your skin and your diet.  Plan your own healthy diet for your acne skin.

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