Alkaline Diet & Rosacea
Can an Alkaline Diet Help Rosacea?
by Dr. Scott Olson,
Naturopathic Doctor (ND)
If you are one of the unlucky people who have rosacea, you have probably searched
for a solution to your problem and maybe you have tried a few approaches including
various creams, light therapy (phototherapy), or even some alternative treatments.
While some of these approaches may have worked for a while, eventually, the rosacea
Not all is lost, though, and you have probably learned a lot during your search.
You may have discovered that harsh chemical creams or lotions can actually make
rosacea much worse, despite what the package claimed. You may have also learned
that phototherapy worked, at least for a while. And you probably learned that many
treatments simply don't work at all, despite whatever the hype was about the product.
All of these approaches are doomed because they fail to understand and address the
underlying cause of the disease. What you need to do is forget trying to treat rosacea
as a skin problem and think of it as a whole-body problem; or, more specifically,
a gut problem.
The old saying that "beauty is more than skin deep" has never been truer
than when you are dealing with a skin disease such as rosacea. Skin diseases are
reflections of overall health. It is well-known, for example, that people who eat
a non-Western diet have fewer skin diseases: including rosacea, acne, eczema and
others. This is because non-Western diets focus on more fruits and vegetables and
fewer sugars, grains, and processed foods. People eating a non-Western diet are
healthier than the average American and their skin shows it.
Brady Barrows and author of a book on diet and rosacea, called Rosacea Diet: A simple
method to control rosacea, commented on the relationship between processed
foods and rosacea:
As the processed food industry of the developed world makes inroads into the underdeveloped
world the result is a diet producing obesity. Rosacea during this same period has
increased dramatically worldwide. The current number of Americans with rosacea is
over 14 million.
There is a healthy path to clearer skin and, while it may take more effort on your
part than simply buying a cream or lotion, the results will be dramatic and long-lasting.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that produces a red rash across the cheeks, nose,
chin, and forehead. The rash goes through periods of remission followed by periods
where the rash is much worse (flare-ups). What exactly causes a flare-up is a bit
of a mystery, but most people, over time, uncover their own triggers that seem to
make the rash much worse. For some people, their trigger is coffee or other hot
drinks, for others it is stress or anxiety, and for others it may be some food they
What you need to recognize about triggers is that they point to you in the right
direction: Triggers tell you that rosacea is a whole-body disease and not just a
While rosacea can be severe and produce permanent swelling of the nose called rhinophyma,
or even severe eye symptoms, for most people rosacea remains an unsightly, embarrassing
blotch on their face.
The Gut and the Skin
While it can sound strange, there is actually a very close relationship between
the health of your digestive tract and the health of your skin. Some researchers
have gone as far as to say that inflammation or the rash on the face means that
there is also inflammation throughout the gut.
Although the precise etiology of rosacea is not known, numerous associations with
inflammatory gastrointestinal tract disorders have been reported. Furthermore, substance
P-immunoreactive neurones occur in considerably greater numbers in tissue surrounding
affected blood vessels suggesting involvement of neurogenic inflammation and moreover
plasma kallikrein-kinin activation is consistently found in patients.
While there is a lot of technical jargon in the quote above, it is basically saying
that there is a close relationship between inflammatory conditions of the gut (such
as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or even Celiac disease) including body-wide
inflammation and a disease like rosacea.
Slow transit time, better known as constipation, has also been known to be associated
with rosacea. In a recent study, researchers treated a rosacea patient with slow
transit time and saw a complete removal of his symptoms. This study, while incredibly
small, shows the relationship between gut health and rosacea.
Other studies on diet and rosacea have also been preformed. A vegetarian alkaline
diet was shown to dramatically reduce the symptoms of rosacea over two months. Not
only did the symptoms of rosacea reduce or disappear in almost every participant,
but eating an alkaline diet also reduced body-wide inflammation in the participants.
Acid Base Balance is the Key
A whole-body approach to rosacea recognizes that what you put into your mouth matters
and what you eat can affect your health and the look of your skin. A whole-body
approach is also an understanding that the body needs balance in order to thrive,
and that most of what we typically eat puts us way out of balance.
The basic balance in your body is called the acid/base or acid/alkaline balance.
You might have heard of pH balance,
but not known what it is exactly. Every food that we eat has a certain
pH: it is either a low pH (1 —7) and considered an acid, or it is
a high pH (7-14) and considered a base. Water is right in the middle; it is not
either an acid or a base. Your body likes to mimic water and keep its own pH close
to neutral as possible; the blood, for instance, is slightly basic (pH of 7.3—7.4).
It is this at this neutral or slightly alkaline pH that your body functions its
When your body is in an acidic state, instead of the natural alkaline state, it
doesn't function well. This means that the body's basic mechanisms such as detoxification,
elimination, and repair all don't function as they should. When these mechanisms
fail, the result is disease, in your case, this means that rosacea once again flairs
This acid problem is made worse by many of the activities we engage in: eating poorly,
not sleeping well, not exercising, and feeling stressed... all of these push us
to an acidic state.
How to Discover Your Own Balance
It is very easy to discover what you own personal acid base balance is by testing
either your saliva or urine every morning. You can use pH strips, which are multicolored
strips that can let you know if you are too acid or alkaline (although it is hard
to be too alkaline).
In order to test your pH simply put a pH strip in your mouth or touch the paper
to your urine stream. You want to do this first thing in the morning. As you eat
an alkaline diet, you can watch how your pH readings will change from acidic to
more basic (from unhealthy to healthy). You can also notice how different foods
will change your morning pH and how you feel when you are more acidic.
When Acid Pushes You, Push Back
Since many of the activities you engage in push you towards a more acidic state,
you have to develop an action plan to push back. The easiest way to do this is to
eat a diet that is more alkaline. While you do not have to eat a purely vegetarian
diet, you do want to include a large number of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Much like giving a car the right fuel, our bodies thrive when we give it what it
needs. Interestingly, eating an alkaline diet not only means that your body is more
in the proper balance, but it is also getting more of the nutrients your body needs.
Diet—far from being just a source of potential triggers for Rosacea—is
actually the key to a permanent solution to the disease. Eating an alkaline diet
means that in as little as a few weeks, your skin should start looking better and
you will feel much better.
Rosacea Rescue Diet
The best diet for someone with rosacea is an alkaline diet.
Here are the basics to an alkaline diet:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, in fact they should outnumber and outweigh all the
other food that you eat.
- Avoid acid-forming foods such as grains, sugar and many meats. Of the three (grains,
sugar and meat), meat is the most allowable because it can be easily balanced by
a large amount of vegetables or fruit.
- Drink plenty of fresh clean water.
- Make sure you are getting enough of the essential nutrients your body needs; supplement
if you have to, you body may need the additional nutrients.
- Avoid cooked fats, trans fats, and fried foods.
- Avoid dairy foods.
While not a complete list, here are the most common acid and alkaline foods:
Acid-forming foods: alcoholic drinks, breads, cake, coffee, cereals,
crackers, grains (except millet and quinoa), vinegar, eggs, oils or foods cooked
in oils, meat, seafood and fish, nuts, seeds, pastas, salt, sugar, tofu
Alkaline-forming foods: fresh fruit, vegetable, salad green, sprouts,
raw cider vinegar, lima beans, potatoes, citrus fruits, millet, quinoa
When following this diet, you don't want to completely avoid all acid-forming foods,
but you want to balance them with as many alkaline-forming foods as possible. A
good rule of thumb is to have a meal of 80 percent alkaline-forming foods and 20
percent acid-forming foods.
Other Helpful Tools
Don't just stop at changing your diet, there are other ways to keep your body in
an alkaline state. Try the rest of these for an added punch to your anti-rosacea
- Manage stress
- Detoxify your body
- Drink enough water
- Add fiber to your diet
- Avoid coffee, tea, trans fats, alcohol, cigarettes, fried foods
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, some have been blamed on causing rosacea
- Eat lots of berries
- Eat cool foods
- Maximize nutrition with a multivitamin
- Take digestive enzymes
- Make sure you get enough EFAs
Despite what you may think, you don't have to live with rosacea; as your body becomes
healthier, so too, will your skin. The side effects of a choosing an alkaline diet
is not only that you have healthier skin, but your whole body will feel better.
About DermaHarmony Products
DermapH™—is a daily nutrient complex
for replenishing mineral reserves and buffering acids. Supplementing with
alkaline minerals on a regular basis supports the body and helps to accelerate the
process of deacidification and restoration of pH balance. Our pH formula is a combination
of alkalizing greens, alkalizing minerals, colonic microorganisms, enzymes and botanical
Alkalive pH Stix (pH Test
Strips)—As with many other conditions, pH imbalance can be multi-fold
in its negative impact on psoriasis. Often people with a pH imbalance suffer from
joint pain and arthritis as well as skin problems. Through increased exercise, and
greater awareness of food choices, and reduction of stress, it is possible to ease
the stress your body places on your renal system (kidneys).
Here are some resources for you. Read on for the answers you seek, then give us
a call if you would like additional guidance.
How We Help
At DermaHarmony, our goals are to educate chronic skin care suffers about dermatology, share what contributes to health and wellness, and support our readers in any way we can. Our programs promote healthy skin with nutritional supplements, topical treatments and dietary guidance. Learn more about our programs or call us toll-free at 1-800-827-3730. Our Support Desk is open 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday.
Our skin assessment is designed to help us get a better understanding of your symptoms and to make diet and lifestyle recommendations for you. It is simple, free, takes just five minutes to complete. Take our skin assessment.
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Natural Treatment for Rosacea
Finding effective treatments for rosacea can be a difficult and frustrating journey.
Some treatments seem to work for a while, but then the rash returns. The natural
course of the disease consists of calm times followed by flare-ups, which further
complicate trying to figure out if treatments actually worked or if the disease
was just going into a quiet period.
Characterized by redness, inflammation and pimple-like bumps on the face, rosacea
is frequently mistaken for adult acne. Due to the location and severity of rosacea,
sufferers frequently experience intense emotional distress and embarrassment.
Alkaline Diet & Rosacea
Skin diseases are reflections of overall health. It is well-known, for example,
that people who eat a non-Western diet have fewer skin diseases: including rosacea,
acne, eczema and others. This is because non-Western diets focus on more fruits
and vegetables and fewer sugars, grains, and processed foods. People eating a non-Western
diet are healthier than the average American and their skin shows it.
Alkaline Diet & Rosacea—Reference
Documents and Further Reading
Principal Author: Scott Olson, ND
Date of Publication: 10/29/2008