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Will Paleo Help My Child's Keratosis Pilaris

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Founder of The Paleo Diet
November 27, 2009
Will Paleo Help My Child's Keratosis Pilaris image

I've got a 10-year old boy who is 1.48m tall and weighs 36kg. He is very fit, with resting heart beat of 60 (he's been checked and has first degree AV heart block which is nothing to worry about). He's a high-performance tennis player and footbal player, training/playing 4 times per week. He also has a magnificent appetite and a real love for meat, chicken, salads and dairy products.

I want to gradually introduce the diet to him, which means a significant shift from his Readybrek (a sort of refined porridge for children) with chopped fruits, 3 pots of fromage frais, 250 ml of fruit smoothie and a slice of wholemeal toast. This is because after I introduced solids to his diet at the age of 10 months he developed this skin condition that has been misdiagnosed as eczema until now, when one of the many dermatologists he has seen, has suggested he might have keratosis pilaris rubra fascia, with the differential diagnosis being comedonal acne vulgaris. On examination he showed follicular white papules across both cheeks with background erythema which appears telangiectatic in areas. He also has one or two similar lesions on his upper arms and thighs.

However, I believe that there must be something in his diet that is causing this (although the doctors here seem to disagree) since he had never suffered from this skin condition until I stopped breastfeeding him at the age of 9 months, so I want to give this new way of eating a try. He's not in to junk food or sweet things (bless him!!), and he really wants for his skin condition to improve as he was recently bullied at school.

My questions are:

  1. Is his calcium intake going to be affected and how to prevent it from happening?
  2. Can I still give him soya milk/youghrt or even greek youghart instead of cow's products?
  3. Where can I find appetising paleo recipes for children, including healthy breakfasts that will satisfy him?
  4. I have purchased 2 of your books for the whole family as a starting point, as although we are all slim and eat pretty well, my husband and I have begun to put on a bit of weight around our waistlines and tend to feel quite drained with 2 children to take care of, so again, I want to give this diet a try.

I would really really appreciate if you could point me in the right direction as I am a great believer that you are what you eat and I am desperate to help my boy before he becomes a teenager with low self-esteem because of his facial appearance: he's already a bit shy.

Dr. Cordain's Response:

Keratosis Pilaris is linked to elevated androgens and insulin serum levels leading to keratinocytes hyperproliferation (increased keratinocytes division). Both hormones are involved in another skin condition, namely acne. We receive many testimonials and I see many acne patients in my practice who have achieved outstanding results with The Paleo Diet. So, maybe The Paleo Diet® can improve Keratosis Pilaris in your child, as it has a very positive response with androgens and insulin metabolism. The Paleo Diet relies on low-glycemic foods, and is free of dairy products, both of which are one of the causes of hyperinsulinemia and subsequent keratinocyte hyperproliferation.

You can find more details regarding acne treatment in our book The Dietary Cure for Acne available here.

Regarding your questions:

  1. No, calcium metabolism is not going to be negatively impacted, but rather improved with The Paleo Diet. Calcium metabolism is not only the amount you eat but also the amount your body eliminates. Calcium is one of the minerals able to reduce metabolic acidosis, produced by meat, fish, eggs, dairy and grains. Conversely, metabolic alkalinity is produced by vegetables and fruits. The Paleo Diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, meat and fish, and low in dairy and grains. This results in a net alkalinity state, meaning your body excretes less calcium. Broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are good calcium sources.
  2. Soy is not part of the Paleo Diet as soy is a bean/legume. Soy is a source of harmful substances, namely lectins, which could induce so-called leaky gut and low-grade inflammation.
  3. Please visit our web site for a list of recommended recipes: here.
  4. The Paleo Diet is free of some of the known foods that cause insulin resistance and therefore central fat, such as grains and legumes, dairy, refined sugars and vegetable oils.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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