Acne is one of the most prevalent health problems that affect the skin, according to a study published in the January 2008 edition of the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology." Although common in teenagers, more than 70 percent of adults over the age of 20 struggle with acne, the paper notes. Certain foods, including brown rice and sweet potatoes, may aid in the reduction of acne symptoms in acne sufferers of all ages.
Like many chronic diseases, acne has several underlying causes. Risk factors for acne include a family history of acne, use of pore-clogging medications, tobacco use and poor facial hygiene. According to a review paper published in by Elsa H. Spencer, Ph.D., of the George Washington University School of Medicine, diet plays an important role in the development of acne. Spencer notes that certain dietary modifications can reduce a trio of acne contributors: free radical exposure, inflammation and elevated insulin levels.
Brown rice is a whole grain that's rich in dietary fiber and thiamine. Also, brown rice has a low glycemic load, meaning that it's digested slowly by the body. Low glycemic load foods don't increase insulin levels as much as high glycemic load foods. Research published in the April 2008 "Journal of Dermatological Science" found that adopting a low glycemic load diet significantly improved symptoms of acne in a group of 30 male research subjects.
Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Like brown rice, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic load. Nutrition scientist Loren Cordain's book, "The Dietary Cure For Acne," notes that high levels of free radicals on the skin can contribute to the formation of acne. Antioxidants are natural compounds in food that destroy free radicals. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of an antioxidant class known as carotenoids.
While dietary modifications can help improve acne symptoms in certain people, diet should be combined with medical treatments prescribed by your physician. Also, no research study has investigated the effects of sweet potatoes or brown rice on acne. Other ways you can combat acne is by avoiding high glycemic load foods, such as refined grains, and consuming a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- "The Dietary Cure For Acne"; Loren Cordain, Ph.D.; 2006
- "Journal of Dermatological Science"; The Effect of a Low Glycemic Load Diet on Acne Vulgaris ... ; R.N. Smith, et al.; April 2008
- "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology"; The Prevalence of Acne in Adults 20 Years and Older; C.N. Collier, et al.; January 2008
- Harvard University: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ Foods
- "International Journal of Dermatology"; Diet and Acne: A Review of the Evidence; E. Spencer, et al.; April 2009