The Science Behind the Low / No Starch Diet

Simple techniques you can try to fight back

There are things you can do to help mitigate that pain.

It might not feel like it in the moment and while there are no magic bullet cures

 

Your Goal:

1. To find out exactly which foods are uniquely suited to your genetic makeup and microbiome. These will be foods that help you thrive, feel great and have more energy.

2. Understand and embrace the fact that there are no fixed answers (everyone’s results will be slightly different!)

3. Learn which foods are not suited to you and can trigger problems. These will be foods that can cause physical pain, stress and health issues.

You will be amazed at the difference it can make.

Disclaimer: This resource is based on my own personal experience and the personal experiences of others who have had success following this diet. We are all different and what works for one person may be different for another. Always speak to a medical professional if you’re unsure.

Heat Pad

Any of the inexpensive plug ones on Amazon will work.

When my pain is bad this can be brilliant and is less faff than a whole heated blanket.

Offers some immediate relief and are portable so can be used on beds or in chairs.

This is the one I got:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07XP2RQHY/

BioFreeze Gel

The most effective gel I’ve found to date offering some pain relief. (comes in much smaller versions too!)

Portable TENS machine

Feels weird at first, like you’re being given a mild static electricity shock, but offers genuine relief while you use it and is really convenient (about the size of a smallish phone). It’s great if you are in flare and need to crack on with day to day life or exercise as it can help mitigate the pain while you get going. They are all pretty similar to be honest, this is the one I got and it works well: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08FM4KS1R

Go for a long walk

It feels like the opposite of what you want to do in the moment, however if you can get moving for an extended period of time (for me personally I timed it and after 70 minutes I tended to experience significant relief) it can do wonders. If you are struggling to get moving then using the TENS machine can be fantastically helpful, or if you don’t have one, applying some Biofreeze or other ointment. It’s painful at first but I have never regretted using exercise to pull me out of a painful flare.

Hot and Cold Exposure

This can be extremely effective and with fast results. If you have a gym membership that you may already have access to this. You need access to facility which offers both saunas and ice baths. You then alternate between the two. – Banya – Sauna

Hot bath with Epsom salts

Any old Epsom salts will do. To be honest I think it’s mainly the heat of the bath which offers the most help but the magnesium which absorbs in the skin is supposed to be beneficial.

What to AVOID

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Unsupportive shoes

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Avoid ANY processed food

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Avoid ANY refined sugar

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Avoid ANY dairy

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Avoid ANY seed oil

Notes:

Starch includes ALL root vegetables, starchy fruits (such as bananas), breads, wheats, starchy grains

Dairy includes milk, cheese and yoghurt from cows, eggs (note: you can try re-introducing eggs and also goat and sheep dairy products after elimination)

Seed oil includes but is not limited to rapeseed, sunflower and vegetable oil

What to expect on the elimination diet

There are few things I wished I’d known about in advance before starting the elimination. Don’t panic if you experience some, none or all of these.

Remember, many of these reactions are temporary. You changing something your body has been used to for several years… decades even so a period of adjustment is completely normal.

Insatiable hunger (click for more)

This was without doubt the hardest part for me.

When you start your elimination diet there are, by definition, very few things you can eat.

And this is compounded by a double whammy. Because what many of us don’t realise is that starchy foods often create that ‘full feeling’ in your stomach

So when you elimate starch and there are very few foods (to begin with) which you can consume to plug that gap, it can be hard.

Certain foods are also addictive. Are body is used to them and craves them. An elimination is not only a huge shock to the gut and the microbiome but its a shock to the brain as well which has formed neural pathways associated with the pleasure derived from eating certain foods.

Rapid weight loss (click for more)

You body has been used to processing complex carbohydrates, processed foods and refined sugars and now has to adapt to processing and burning different types of fuel, so this is a a big adjustment.

Many people find they lose a lot of weight at the start of the elimination diet, particularly as you are finding your feet. This can be unsettling and it might feel like it will never stop but as your body settles and you figure out what foods you can safely eat and the right portion sizes things will improve.

In my case it was 3 or 4 months before I started to hit an equilibrium.

Some tips:

1) Give yourself much bigger portion sizes. This might sound obvious but typically on an elimination diet (and beyond for many of us) you might have a plate of salad, for example, with a portion of meat for lunch. While this can look volumous on the plate salad will not fill you up. Remember we’ve been used to having filling carbs (rice, potatoes, pasta etc) and if you remove that you leave a gaping whole. You will need to ensure you have a decent sized portion of protein (more than you might have normally had pre-elimination diet) to make up the difference.

2) Use olive oil and/or avocado oil on everything. They contain healthy fats and though it might not feel intuitively as if they would help fill you up and a generous drizzle on salad (or anything) can really help maintain a healthy weight.

3) Try not to snack too much – for many this can make pain worse – and instead focus on really getting those portion sizes right and figuring out what healthy trigger free meals you can have.

Different bowel movements (click for more)

This will vary for everyone but any change in diet is a change to the contents of your gut.

This in turn can dramatically impact your digestive system and microbiome and naturally there can be a period of adjustment. For example:

– You may find you are going to the toilet more or less than usual to begin with

– You may find your stools are more runny than usual at times, particularly if you are trying new supplements (Apple Cider Vinegar had an almost diarrhea like effect on me for the first few days)

Typically things even out, stabalise and improve over time.

In my case my bowel movements are now more consistent and more regular than they were prior to the AS protocol. It took a few months for things to settle into a natural rhythm.

Third Party Diet Resources

Low / No Starch Foods List (Google Docs)

Fantastic Google Docs created by the brilliant members of the ‘Low / No Starch Lifestyle for Ankylosing Spondylitits’ Facebook group. A detailed set of lists which contain vegetables, fruits, seafood, fats, sweeteners and more

Strict Chef (Third Party Website)

Website which offers recipes and information on ingredients based on your dietary requirements. In the second section there’s an option to set ‘Starch’ to 0g. Then when you search for foods e.g. broccoli it will tell the starch content