A friend of mine has rosacea. When we talked about it, it was easy to identify her primary trigger: cookies.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition involving red skin on the cheeks, chin, nose, forehead or eyelids. The red skin isn’t smooth, but characterized by bumps or pustules, along with noticeable blood vessels. The nose may become red and bulbous; the eyes may be irritated, watery and bloodshot.
Most sources say the causes of rosacea are unknown, but a genetic link has been shown. Women between 30 and 50, especially those with fair skin, are more susceptible to developing rosacea.
What Triggers a Rosacea Flare-Up?
I’m inclined to divide – and perhaps oversimplify – the triggers into temperature changes and inflammation.
Temperature triggers may include hot foods and beverages, external temperature extremes, or strenuous exercise.
Inflammatory triggers may include alcohol, spicy foods, or caffeine. For some people, dairy products can worsen the symptoms, as can artificial sweeteners.
When it comes to triggers, though, let’s not forget cookies – more accurately, the sugar they contain.
The Sugar/Rosacea Connection
Avoiding sugars may help prevent a rosacea flare-up. Sugar, including high-fructose corn syrup, can trigger high insulin release – especially in people who are carbohydrate sensitive.
Carb-sensitive people tend to have a family history of diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), high blood pressure, or obesity. Another factor may be an apple-shaped body, with a tendency to gain weight around the midsection.
High insulin triggered by sugars can activate inflammatory hormones, such as prostaglandin(series-2). Series 2 prostaglandins can provoke skin disorders.
Carb-sensitive folks also secrete insulin when they eat fruit. Limit fruit to 1 to 2 servings per day. (A serving is ½ cup or 1 medium-size fruit.) Choose low-sugar fruits, such as raspberries, blackberries, fresh cranberries, strawberries, and kiwi. Olives and avocados are low-sugar fruits, as well.
Other Insulin Triggers To Avoid
Avoid alcohol whenever possible. It’s dehydrating and a huge insulin trigger.
Avoid processed starches, such as white flour or instant mashed potatoes, which will promote high insulin release.
With regard to insulin, avoid wheat. A large-scale study by Cornell University on 3200 women in rural China found that the ones in northern China, who had a wheat-based diet, had greater problems with insulin resistance than those in the south of China, who had a rice-based diet.
Insulin resistance involves chronically high insulin. That’s inflammatory, as described above.
Because gluten is also inflammatory, avoid gluten-containing grains, such as barley, rye, triticale and wheat.
Beneficial starches may include lentils, quinoa, oats, brown rice, buckwheat, winter squash, lentils, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
Another Factor In Rosacea Flare-Ups
Bacterial overgrowth in the gut seems to show a clear correlation with rosacea.
Probiotics may help by promoting healthful gut flora. Probiotic foods include kimchi, real sauerkraut (with no vinegar), acidophilus yogurt (½ teaspoon per day), and weak green tea.
So What’s Good To Eat?
Vegetables are always recommended for controlling rosacea. Eat plenty of them, raw or steamed. Have leafy greens, asparagus, and colorful vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables are excellent. They include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, and others.
If you have or can buy a juicer, enjoy fresh vegetable juices.
Protein is important. Eat at least 18 to 24 percent of your calories in the form of protein. (Protein yields 4 calories per gram.)
Emphasize vegetable protein – use vegetable protein powders, if necessary.
Avoid animal proteins: beef, pork, lamb, dairy, or chicken and turkey skin. They tend to be inflammatory.
A beneficial exception would be oily fish – wild salmon, sardines, black cod and others – for their anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Alternatively, take fish oil in liquid or capsule form.
Other omega-3s – flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds – are helpful. Eat other good fats, too: macadamia nuts, avocado, coconut oil. They tend to be anti-inflammatory. Limit butter, but always use grass-fed when you have it.
Avoid “bad” fats: corn oil, cottonseed oil, mixed vegetable oils, safflower oil, sunflower oil, margarine or other partially hydrogenated oils.
Add anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as turmeric. Always combine turmeric with black pepper and some good fat for best absorption. Also have ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa.
Stay hydrated. Drink lots of pure water, rather than fruit juice, soda, coffee or tea.
I hope this info helps you keep your skin beautiful and healthy.
One terrific side benefit of eating this way is that joint pain may clear up, as well. In my professional experience, anything that benefits the skin benefits the joints. Good to know, good to remember.