Rosacea affects as many as 16 million Americans, causing flushing, the presence of visible blood vessels, and (sometimes) the appearance of small bumps filled with pus. If you have rosacea, then you know that this condition is as mysterious as it gets! Symptoms can flare up for weeks or even months straight, then completely clear up. What’s more, its exact cause is unknown, though it is classified as an autoimmune disease and is linked to inflammation. The good news is that if you have rosacea, your dermatologist can definitely help. The usual treatment is prescription medication, but studies indicate that your diet can also play a key role in reducing symptoms—and the vegan diet is ideal for this purpose.
Studies on Diet and Rosacea
Study after study has shown that diet can play a key role in tackling rosacea. Thanks to their findings, we now know enough about rosacea to identify the foods that can make this condition better or worse. A 2017 study published in the journal, Dermatology Practical & Conceptual found that supporting a healthy gut microbiome and consuming a fiber-rich (probiotic) diet can significantly reduce symptoms. A survey by the National Rosacea Society has demonstrated, meanwhile, that 78% of people have altered their diet because of rosacea. Of this group, some 95% reported a reducing in flare-ups.
The Gut-Skin Connection
The gut-skin connection plays a key role in the development or improvement of rosacea. For instance, one study found that the eradication of a specific gut bacteria called H. pylori led to an improvement in rosacea symptoms. Scientists have also found that the use of synbiotics (prebiotics and probiotics—both of which boost gut health) for at least eight weeks had a significant effect on atopic dermatitis (another inflammatory disease of the skin). It has likewise been demonstrated that the composition of intestinal bacteria plays a role in the development of rosacea. Finally, a healthy gut microbiome (one that contains a wide array of healthful gut bacteria) positively impacts intestinal barrier function and immunity. As such, it has the potential to affect many other organ systems—including the skin.
Why Fiber is Key to Good Gut Health
In order to promote a healthy gut microbiome, consuming a fiber-rich diet is vital. Fiber stimulates the growth and activity of beneficial microbes and can be considered a powerful prebiotic food. Probiotics, meanwhile, encourage the growth of these microbes. They include fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir (opt for vegan kefir if you like), kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut. Healthful fiber, meanwhile, can be found in a host of vegetables—including artichokes, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, mushrooms, collard greens, turnips, carrots, parsnips, and many more. Fruits such as banana, strawberry, avocado, blackberry, and banana are also optimal sources of fiber. The vegan diet, which comprises a high percentage of fruits and vegetables, is known as one of the highest-fiber diets in existence. By eating the foods you normally eat and adding a few probiotics into the equation, you can promote excellent gut health and decrease the likelihood of rosacea flare-ups.
In addition to embracing fruits and vegetables, it is also vital to avoid rosacea triggers. These include spicy foods and alcohol. However, preventive strategies go beyond food. Other known triggers include hot temperatures, sun exposure, and feelings of anger and embarrassment. Exercise can be another trigger, but of course, physical activity is vital for your physical and mental health. If you have severe flare-ups, try exercising indoors and when you do head outside, make sure to use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, all year round. Some 81% of persons surveyed by the National Rosacea Society reported that sun exposure was their top trigger. What’s more, it is linked to severe redness and the visibility of blood vessels. When shopping for a sunscreen, choose a physical block (containing zinc or titanium oxide), which delivers both UVA and UVA protection and which deliver an SPF of 30 or higher.
Incorporating a fiber-rich vegan diet can help quell rosacea symptoms by nurturing a healthy gut microbiome. Numerous scientific studies have revealed that plant-based foods and probiotics can reduce flare-ups. The gut-skin connection underscores this impact, as gut health influences skin conditions like rosacea. Optimal choices include probiotic-rich foods and fiber-packed vegetables and fruits. Also aim to avoid triggers like spicy foods, alcohol, and sun exposure. Embrace the power of a high-fiber vegan diet and mindful choices to promote gut health and alleviate rosacea symptoms effectively.