Diet plays a big role in rosacea, as certain foods cause flushing and other rosacea symptoms. The main dietary triggers for rosacea include spicy foods, hot liquids, caffeine, alcohol, histamines, acid-forming foods, trans fats and high glycemic foods.
Spicy foods, like those with cayenne, paprika and pepper can induce flushing, combined with sweating due to a reflex of the trigeminal nerve when spices are ingested.
Hot liquids such as beverages or soups warm the blood, irrigate the pharynx and redirect blood flow to the face from the brain. This triggers flushing, irritation and dilation of the capillaries, which can cause face congestion, an accumulation of fluid stagnation of blood that has leaked from the cells and pooled into the affected area.
Caffeine was originally believed to be a main rosacea trigger, as drinking caffeinated beverages like tea or coffee causes flushing. While a recent study found it was the heat from hot versions of these beverages, not the caffeine that triggered rosacea, it turns out that caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolate, can induce flushing after all, as it causes a rise in blood pressure. So, it may be wise to choose iced, decaf instead.
Histamine-containing foods and beverages increase blood vessel permeability and cause blood vessels to dilate. They can also promote flushing in the absence of rosacea due to histamine intolerance. Foods and beverages to avoid include fermented and aged cheeses, alcohol, black tea, coffee, processed meats and fish, canned vegetables, eggplant, mushrooms, pumpkin and spinach.
Trans fats not only raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good (HDL), but they increase inflammation, a huge component of this skin condition. Thus, sufferers should avoid partially hydrogenated oils, commonly found in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods, non-dairy creamers, microwave popcorn and packaged or frozen foods.
Acid-forming foods trigger rosacea by increasing stress hormones, which are acidic in nature and cause the flushing or blushing. It is believed that rosacea is also caused by the blood being too acidic, which inhibits detoxification, elimination and cellular repair.
The top acid-forming foods include table salt, nutmeg, vanilla, curry, MSG, mustard, pepper, coffee, alcohol, black tea, soda, sugar, cocoa, artificial sweeteners, honey and corn syrup.
This list is extensive and includes foods that may be triggers for some, but not for others. The best way to determine your personal triggers is by journaling what you eat and when you have flare-ups. Then, try eliminating those foods that were eaten before your flare-up for three to four weeks. If your symptoms improve, then you know those foods are rosacea triggers for you.