The culprits behind your acne blemishes are hormones, oily skin, dead skin cells, clogged pores, bacteria and inflammation. So, although eating potatoes doesn't give you acne, in some people it may exacerbate a few of the causes. Just as there isn't only one cause of acne, there also isn't one treatment. In other words, don't rely on eliminating potatoes from your diet to banish your blemishes.
Potatoes and Insulin
The Western diet, which is often rich in carbohydrates, boosts levels of the hormone insulin. Potatoes have an effect similar to pure sugar on your blood glucose levels and are particularly bad for your insulin levels. In addition, insulin has several adverse effects on acne. It increases oiliness in your skin and boosts inflammation of the skin, which makes acne worse.
Potatoes and Weight Gain
Being overweight or obese makes you more likely to have conditions such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. One common feature of these conditions is high insulin levels. If you're already battling excess insulin, consuming high-glycemic foods such as potatoes can make it worse and might also make managing your acne even more difficult.
In a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in July 2007, researchers investigated the effects of consuming a low-glycemic-load diet in 43 male patients with acne between ages 15 and 25. They found that the diet helped to improve the participants' insulin sensitivity and reduce their weight. It also resulted in fewer acne lesions than the control group.
Cutting potatoes out of your diet won't likely cause any nutritional problems and might improve your acne. You can get your daily supply of carbohydrates from whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables -- foods that are healthier for your skin. However, if you can't kick your potato habit, try eating it with the skin, which is packed with fiber -- a nutrient that helps to keep blood glucose levels stable. If you are on a special diet or have a medical condition, consult your doctor before changing your diet to treat acne.
- DrBiffa: Why the Potato is One Vegetable It Makes Sense to Keep a Lid on in the Diet
- "Prescription for Drug Alternatives"; James F. Balch, M.D., et al.; 2008
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; A Low-Glycemic-Load Diet Improves Symptoms in Acne Vulgaris Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial; Robyn N. Smith et al.; July 2007
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Insulin Resistance and Pre-diabetes