6 Tips To Enjoy Alcohol Without Triggering Rosacea

I love good wine, gorgeous food, and enjoy looking great. And although I don’t consider that I suffer from rosacea any more – I still have to be careful. The good news is that there are ways to enjoy food and alcohol without triggering your rosacea.

No-one likes flare-ups. But one of the blessings for me is that it’s helped me to get to know my body and health. Yes, we all have different combinations that can impact our symptoms, but we can navigate them successfully when we have some guidelines to follow.

And that’s exactly the intention of this article – to provide you with some helpful guidelines so that you can continue to enjoy alcohol without triggering your rosacea.

Why Is Alcohol Such A Common Trigger For Rosacea?

Alcohol is a vasodilator—it makes the blood vessels open up and more blood run through them. So, it can make skin look redder. However different wines effect people differently. Wine cannot cause rosacea, but most certainly induces a flare-up of its symptoms.

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. And the effects of drinking alcohol have a lot to do with inflammation (see study published in June 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology) . When evaluating rosacea risk in American women, researchers found that drinking booze increased the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are cell-signaling molecules.

This increase, in turn, can lead to vasodilation, or a widening of the blood vessels.

White Wine Versus Red Wine

For me red wine soothes my skin unless I drink poorly made red wine where the wine maker has used too much sulphur dioxide. Red wine is all good for me. In fact, the more full bodied the better.

This may surprise you because a lot of people write that you should avoid red wine if you have rosacea.

When I was younger and had rosacea (now I consider that I’ve healed it with the occassional exception, so I don’t think of myself as having rosacea any more) I would only have a glass of white wine or rose, and my face would be burning. So one factor I know for sure sets rosacea off is sulphur dioxide. It’s used a lot more in white wines to preserve them, than red wines.

I still have to be very careful with white wines. Interestingly I can drink champagne or good quality sparkling wine, and no flushing. This is also because the bubbles in sparkling wine help preserve it. Especially if fermented in the bottle, and therefore far less or no sulphur dioxide is required.

So why isn’t this the same for everyone?

One of the factors of how your body responds to different things can be your blood group. 

Alcohol, Blood Type, And Lectins

In 1996 Peter D’Adamo, a naturopathic physician, published a book “Eat Right for Your Type” in which he described how people could be healthier, live longer, and achieve their ideal weight by eating according to their blood type.

Your choice of condiments, spices, and even choices for alcohol could depend on your blood type. D’Adamo argues that when the blood comes in contact with certain food components, a chemical reaction occurs specifically with proteins called lectin.

Lectins, which are proteins found in food, are believed to have a direct effect on the blood and the digestive tract. These proteins bind to cells within the body, causing them to clump together and potentially cause hormonal disruptions. This disruption has a similar effect on the body as a foreign substance might.

Medicine, Food, Or Foreign Body?

A few years ago I did some work myself with dark field microscopy on which the book was based. Here we looked at a live blood sample, then had the person eat a particular food, or drink a particular alcohol. We determined whether the body treated it as a medicine, food or a foreign body.

If the body treated it as a foreign body, the white blood cells would kick in to defend and protect their host. Antigens are also present in blood. They are responsible for triggering a response by the immune system to counter attacks from foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses, and the food and drinks you consume.

As I mentioned earlier, researchers have found that drinking booze increased the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are cell-signaling molecules. This increase, in turn, can lead to vasodilation, or a widening of the blood vessels. What we found is that dependant on blood type, different alcohols triggered the antigens and cytokines in different people.

The many hundreds of blood samples I reviewed showed a pattern which matched the book approximately 70% of the time.  Patterns definitely emerged.

For me with an A negative blood type - red wine, chocolate and coffee are like medicines (maybe this is why I’m into this idea J ). But, white wine and red meat are toxins to me.

So with all this in mind, let's look at my top 6 tips to allow you to drink alcohol without triggering rosacea. 

Tip # 1. Drink Right For Your Blood Type

For ‘A’ blood type red wine and coffee are beneficial and reduce the inflammatory response.  But if you have an A blood type you’re best to avoid white wine, beer and spirits which are harmful and inflammatory. https://integrative.ca/uploads/Resources-PDF/Blood-Type-A-Food-List.pdf

For ‘O’ blood types no alcohol is beneficial. But the good news is that red wine, white wine, and beer are neutral. That means you can have a small amount. Coffee and spirits are harmful and inflammatory, and best avoided. (Please don’t shoot the messenger). To see a full list - https://integrative.ca/uploads/Resources-PDF/18-05-03-Integrative-Handout-Blood-Type-O-Food-List.pdf

If you have ‘B’ Bloodgroup then all wine, coffee and tea are neutral. It’s best to only drink these in small quantities. https://integrative.ca/uploads/Resources-PDF/18-05-03-Integrative-Handout-Blood-Type-B-Food-List.pdf

And for ‘AB’ Bloodgroup it’s likely you’ll find that coffee is beneficial while red wine, white wine and beer are neutral. You’re best to avoid spirits as they tend to be harmful for you. https://integrative.ca/uploads/Resources-PDF/Blood-Type-AB-Food-List.pdf

When I discovered this in the late 1980’s I’d been working with clients as a naturopath. I had amazing results with some clients and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t work for everyone. Once I learnt about the impact of blood groups, then with some minor alterations it was easy to get a good result for all clients. It’s another piece of the puzzle.

Tip #2. Choose Your Alcohol/Wine Carefully

The main preservative used in wine is sulphur dioxide, it’s on the label as ‘preservative 220’, ‘minimal sulphur dioxide added’ or ‘contains sulphites’. It’s all about protecting the wine from oxidation and bacterial spoilage. This is present in a range of 10 – 350 parts per million.

Sulphur dioxide used in winemaking is often less than many other products (e.g., dried fruits, some beer, meat, etc.) that may also aggravate rosacea symptoms, even the Romans used it as a preservative. European wines often don’t list it because their labelling laws don’t require it.

Here are some things to help your decision making…

  • White wines are more susceptible to oxidation, hence more sulphur dioxide.
  • The tannins in red wines act as a natural preservative. If you have symptoms from drinking red wine, it could be the tyramines and histamines.
  • Older wines are better. Age also affects the sulphur dioxide levels in a wine, as it dissipates over time.
  • There is less sulphur dioxide used in organic and biodynamic wines. Certification allows 50 per cent of what can be used under conventional standards.
  • Preservative-free wines don’t have sulphur dioxide added, however, it can also be a natural product of fermentation and is therefore often present even if it hasn’t been added. Some of the natural yeasts can also impact on rosacea symptoms as well.
  • You can get products to add to your wine to remove the sulphur dioxide that made up of diluted hydrogen peroxide. This doesn’t really work for me, and spoils the taste of the wine. It may work for you.
  • Sweet wines require more preservative, so avoid them at all costs.
  • Bottle fermented sparkling wines have low sulphur because the bubbles reduce oxidation. Bottle fermented wines include champagne and cavaa, but not prosecco.

Tip #3. Pay Attention To How You’re Drinking

Dehydration is also a big part of managing rosacea.Keeping your body hydrated is key. It’s also why I like to take the TJ Clark colloidal minerals, this seems to help the body stay hydrated.

If you are out for a night, make it a rule for yourself that for every glass of wine you have a glass of water (with some lemon even better), this hydrates the body but also cools the body and helps reduce inflammation, and helps it stay more alkaline.

Another key thing is to have a capsule of borage oil or evening primrose oil before going out. Also having a lypo-spheric Vitamin C sachet before going out is great. The anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids found in Vitamin C help support weakened blood vessels. Researchers believe that the redness of Rosacea may be caused by blood vessels that dilate too easily, therefore strengthening these blood vessels with Vitamin C can counteract the inflammation.

Tip #4. Avoid Combining Alcohol And Spicy Food

If you are going to have a few glasses of wine, be more observant about the foods you’re eating.

Check out the blood group lists, and if you really want to drink alcohol, try to avoid consuming heat inducing food such as chilli at the same time. Doing both is a recipe for disaster, and could put your healing back.

But let’s face it we want to enjoy life, so just make some choices.

Tip #5. Keep A Diary

I recommend you keep a diary of what happens with your skin. Sometimes we can blame something, and when we look at our diary it may have been doing three things over a couple of days that COMBINED have caused a reaction.

It may pay to create more space between potentially trigger activating actions. For example, one night having a couple of glasses of wine, then making sure for the next couple of days to avoid all triggers. You can enjoy having a curry, but don’t drink wine or beer at the same time.

Give your body a couple of days to manage any potentially inflammatory response.

Tip #6. Try A Chia Seed Soother

I find if I have had a reaction that a chia seed soother can calm things down more quickly. Add a heaped tablespoon of chia seeds to a glass of coconut or almond milk. You can add some vanilla and stevia as well for flavour. Leave overnight (it’s best to keep these in the fridge for breakfast, or if you’ve been out to have before sleep to combat any inflammation).

In Summary

Check out your blood group (if you’ve ever given blood it will be on your blood donor card). That will help you discover the drinks and foods that are beneficial for you. Stick to that for 90% of the time.

Try drinking your wine/beer of choice on an empty stomach. See if after 15 – 20 mins your face is flushed. If so, avoid that alcohol. When you are doing this test, leave at least a day between tests. And remember to pay attention to different brands.

I now know that I can have a glass of good quality dry sparkling wine, followed by a couple of glasses of a mature red wine. I feel great and don’t get a flush. Compare that to one one beer or a glass of white wine, and as you see in the photo after 5 mins my cheeks are flushed. An inflammatory response is triggered, and it can take more than a day to go away.

The answer – follow these guidelines, have a play, and see what works for you.

And please do make sure that you check out the new Rosacea Skincare page which includes instructions for treating rosacea, frequently asked questions, success stories and more. 

Cheers and love - Suzanne Hall


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Do you have a question about your skin or skincare? - write to us on potentnature@powerskinsolutions.com, or add a comment below.


Here are a few external articles that may be of interest -

According to a recent study from Brown University published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, drinking white wine can increase your risk of developing rosacea.

“Compared to never drinkers, [those who drank] one to three glasses of white wine per month had a 14 per cent increased risk of rosacea. For five or more white wines a week, risk increased by 49 per cent,” study senior author Wen-Qing Li said in a statement, CBS reports.

The chronic skin condition, which mostly targets the face, can cause redness, pimple-like bumps and red lines, the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) notes.

“Compared to never drinkers, [those who drank] one to three glasses of white wine per month had a 14 per cent increased risk of rosacea. For five or more white wines a week, risk increased by 49 per cent,” study senior author Wen-Qing Li said in a statement, CBS reports.

How much alcohol it takes to trigger rosacea, though, seems to vary. “Each person has a different tolerance,” says Tanya Kormeili, MD, a dermatologist in Santa Monica, California. “What triggers one person may not be enough to do so for a different patient.”




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