No Starch Diet

AS Diet Summary
A brief summary of what I eat and what I can not eat..

==== The foods I react to are: ====
Starchy roots (potato, yam, sweet potato), grains, most legumes / beans (soy, navy bean, kidney bean, etc), dairy products, caramel (sugar cooked with butter, dairy, or even coconut), some nuts & seeds (sunflower seeds, peanuts, cashews), vinegar  (Apple Cider Vinegar is OK).
I suspect yeast derivatives to be a mild problem for me, for example: alcohol, vinegar (ACV is fine.. foods containing vinegar include tomato sauce, salad dressings, pickles, mustard, etc), cheese, etc. 

==== Foods that are safe are: ====
All leafy greens (cabbage, spinach, kale, etc), most vegetables (zucchini, capsicum [red/green/yellow peppers], tomato, brocoli, cauliflower), long green beans (but not other beans), meat, fish, eggs, dried fruits (sultanas, currants, figs, dried apricots, etc), most fresh fruits (especially apples, pears and grapes), tofu (starch is removed), coconut cream, coconut fibre, oils, sesame, tahini, olives, baba ganouj, yogurt (avoid products with additives/thickeners/gums/inulin!).

Some people can tolerate rice in moderation, however this should not be tried until all inflammation has cleared. I tolerate glutinous rice very well as it has no Amylose starch, but please wait until your pain subsides before trying that.

==== Be careful with these: ====
There are some foods that you need to be careful with for various reasons, especially when starting the diet. You may well be able to tolerate this later when your inflammation levels drop, the gut heals, and your gut flora improves:
All stone fruits - nectarine, apricot, peach, plum, and also avocado.
Foods containing FOS / Inulin - garlic, onion, asparagus, artichoke.
Pumpkin - these can be starchy as they are often picked at the wrong time.
In the case of inulin and FOS (Fructo-oligosacharides) I was able to build tolerance by adding it to my diet first in very tiny amounts, then gradually increasing the mount over a number of days.

=== Iodine Testing ===
Test everything with iodine tincture!. Iodine can easily be bought from a chemist, it is a very common item, I use the amber coloured Betadine. Don't use clear iodine as it won't work. Iodine testing is especially important when you are first starting the diet. Foods will turn an inky blue-black if they are high in starch (eg: bread). If the food has no significant starch content (and almost certainly safe) then the iodine will remain a nice amber colour (brownish orange colour really). Starch is often hidden in sauces and other processed foods. Also if a fruit is picked too early then it can also be quite starchy - the farming practices can vary from region to region, so what is safe in Australia might not be safe in Europe. One caveat is with crushed or pureed tomatoes, in this case the iodine test is not very reliable and you will have to use trial and error to see if you can tolerate these well (I have never had issues with tomatoes).

Check here and here for more info on iodine. 

Unfortunately, just to make things difficult, different iodine preparations seem to have different levels of sensitivity to starch (as can be seen here and here). Based one one comment (here) I would stay away from preparations that contain potassium. DragonSlayer, whom I find to be extremely experience and knowledgeable, recommends diluting iodine preparations using alcohol to 1% or 0.5% strength. It just isn't at all helpful if your iodine reacts strongly to foods that have less than 1% starch, as ruling those foods out will just be too impractical, in my experience completely unnecessary, and even perhaps detrimental. For this reason I recommend you start with Betadine brand if you can find it as this one works well.

NSD Food List

=== A.S. Food Ranking ===
This section is only for sufferers on Ankylosing Spondylitis.

I have been trying to rank foods on a 0 to 5 scale for the last month or two. I will start listing out some of my results here. A ranking of 0 means that the food causes me no inflammation, whilst 5 would be the worst inflammation possible.

==== the procedure ====
I can get 100% relief if I stick to fresh fruit, vegetables, greens, tomato, eggs and meat for three days or so. Once you have reached this pain free state by the use of diet restriction all that you have to do is add one food every day or two and make note of how much pain that food caused. Typically you will notice an increase in pain within the next 5 hours. Depending on the food, you may find that the worst pain is 24 hours after eating the offending food.

I repeat, in order for your results to be accurate and useful you must restrict your diet to the point that you are almost 100% free of inflammation in order for the results to be accurate and useful. What is more, if I take NSAID’s or other anti-inflammatory drugs, then these will mask any possible food reactions and once more give inaccurate results.

The results of my testing are below, but I seriously have to update it !! I made this list a long time ago ..


  • 0 : No pain (ie: no inflammation). These foods are safe.
  • 1 : Almost no pain. These foods cause very slight inflammation in me. Most people will be able to tolerate these foods without any real trouble. Still able to run and sleep without trouble
  • 2 : Mild pain. Some stiffness after prolonged inactivity which eases after walking or taking a hot/cold shower.
  • 3 : Moderate pain.
  • 4 : Considerable pain
  • ** : I believe this food / supplement reduces inflammation.
  • *** : This food / supplement consistently reduces inflammation.
  • +++ : Improvement in other related health problems was experienced.
  • !! : This food reduces my ability to tolerate starchy foods.
  • Lax : Has laxative properties. The quicker food is eliminated the sooner you find pain relief from dietary changes.
  • Const : Has a constipating effect. The slower food is eliminated the longer you will wait before getting relief.
  • ?: This food needs more testing. For example: “0-1?” Means that the food causes either no pain, or very little pain and I would like to do further testing.
!! ?

Others find alcohol to be completely safe. I don’t really know why I react to this. (Interestingly I think I also react to vinegar..).

Actually I think maybe this just makes me more sensitive to starch rather than being the actual cause of inflammation (?)

Almonds, Blanched / Almond Meal0These are safe. Almond meal / blanched almonds are both safe since the almond skin has been removed (blanched almonds are just normal almonds without their skins). Weird isn’t it to react to that little bit of skin!. Thanks go to Ted LaMonty for figuring this one out.

Almond meal is a useful replacement for wheat flour. When used to bake muffins,etc you need to mix in some egg in order to bind it.

Almonds, Raw1

Almost safe. Most people should have no problems with this. If I eat a large quantity of almonds with their skins (eg.100 grams) then I will get some slight pain (this time it was in my back-side) … Ted thinks it may cause him to have a stiff neck if he has too many. Almond flour can be used in place of wheat flour to make a starch free bread.
Almonds have a huge amount of Dietary Fibre in them and therefore provide an excellent protection against weed organisms such as Candida.

Unfortunately whole nuts (and some other nuts?) have a tendency to cause mild eczema in me. I believe that this is due to the abrasiveness of the nuts.. when eaten whole they produce sharp and abrasive particles which my poor unhealthy gut was not able to withstand.

Experiment: If you do react to Almonds then try soaking them in water for 24 hours and popping the skins off.

Apples0Season: Autumn
Safe when in season.
Apple Cider Vinegar
(malic acid)
0-2Apple cider vinegar is similar to normal vinegar (eg. wine vinegar, white vinegar, balsanic vinegar, etc). Normal vinegar contains ascetic acid and apple cider vinegar apparently contains more malic acid.
Avocado2?Needs testing. Ted said he reacted very badly to this food. I think I may have also reacted to this when I tried it once. Gingann also reacted ( ref )
Aloe Vera0
Baba Ganouj0Safe. Check there are no starch thickeners, gums, etc.
Bamboo Shoots0Quite Safe. No significant reactions so far. May be completely safe.
Bocconcini0?Appears to be safe. Had no reaction the last time I ate this.
Brazil Nuts2-3These cause me moderate pain, others seem to tolerate them quite well.
Not recommended for those with IBS due to sulfur content causing wind in some IBS sufferers.
Brussel Sprouts0
Lax ***
I find these decrease my inflammation considerably. Boil and eat 2 or 3 just before going to bed and you should wake up feeling quite good. Perhaps due to Glutamine, or Sulphur content. Glutamine is beneficial for gut healing, eg: ‘leaky gut’. These sprouts are related to cabbage and therefore may not be good for IBS. You get used to the taste, but if you really can’t stand them then try eating heaps of cabbage.
Butter0No pain so far. I can not mix butter with sugar as it brings on my iritis (eye inflammation) and enthesitis (a type of inflammation which occurs in my hands, knees and feet)

I have been very wary of this since it is derived from dairy, and all other dairy foods that I have tested have caused pain. However coconut cream and olive oil are better for the heart and cholesterol than butter.
Ghee would be even safer than butter as it has far less of the milk proteins than butter.

See Greens, and Brussel Sprouts.
Good source of glutamine. Not recommended for those with IBS due to sulfur content causing wind in some IBS sufferers.
Capsicum0Season: Summer?
Should be completely safe. I don’t eat much capsicum so I honestly don’t know.
Caramels2-3Butter and sugar are not safe when mixed. Cocnut Cream is also a problem when mixed with lots of sugar. The reaction is strongest when the food is hot or syrupy.

Mixing dairy, butter or coconut with sugar brings on my iritis (eye inflammation) and enthesitis (a type of inflammation which occurs in my hands, knees and feet)

Carrots0Season: Winter
Carrot Juice0
I think I can even tolerate a little starch after drinking this?? Needs to be made fresh. I have bought pasteurised carrot juice and it didn’t work. My recollection is that even fresh raw juice lost it’s effectiveness after a few days in the fridge, why that would be I do not know. Don’t bother buying this in a supermarket unless you can see the m make it right then and there.
See: Raw Juices
Cauliflower0Season: Autumn
Cheese (old)0-2
Hard cheeses that are well aged and strong taste are the safest. Young soft cheeses are (apparently) not tolerated very well. Maximum inflammation is experienced 24 hours after eating cheese / dairy products.

After eating a large amount (130 grams) of hard cheese I had only some very mild enthesitis (heel pain), and possibly a small amount of eczema.

Chocolate0-1My response: slight hand pain, mild hip pain - this reaction was from dark chocolate that had no milk powder and no milk solids, although it did have some butter / butter oil

Other people find dark chocolate to be well tolerated. Avoid milk chocolate as it contains powdered milk, even better if you can find a product with no dairy content at all (see caramels). I would go for the purest chocolate that you can get eg: 70% cocoa

Coconut Cream0I can not mix coconut with sugar as it brings on my iritis (eye inflammation) and enthesitis (a type of inflammation which occurs in my hands, knees and feet)
Coconut fibre (desiccated coconut)0
Good for making ‘coconut macaroons’.
Beware the preservative which is often added to this as it makes me tired and grumpy. The products found in chinese grocers is likely the best quality and least preservatives (some list no preservatives at all, or perhaps they just don’t bother to list them).
Coconut Flour0A useful replacement for wheat flour. When used to bake muffins,etc you need to mix in some egg in order to bind it.
Coffee0-2some foot pain (enthesitis), mildly worsened back and hip pain.
Coffee is unusual as in the first few hours after drinking coffee it can actually reduce pain (probably some kind of adrenal / cortisol response), and then several hours later the AS is gradually worsened.
milk, yoghurt, cheese, etc
Cassein is more likely to be the problem. Lactose is not the problem since (a) yoghurt still causes pain, and (b) lactose free milk still causes pain. Kiwi’s husband is an example of this form of dairy intolerance.

Milk when cooked causes iritis attacks in me. eg: powdered milk, instant hot chocolate, protein powders, cappuccino, etc. Other dairy is still a problem but even worse when cooked or powdered.

Gypsy also said she had problems with dairy: “I noticed a difference right away with dairy. (milk, etc, stuffed me up and I felt horrible) “

Some people find that their bowel movements slow down when they eat dairy, and this will prolong any inflammation caused by food intolerance.

Dates, dried0

Should be safe. I can only eat a small amount of these. If I eat too much I feel unwell (no inflammation though).

I previously believed I reacted to dates (despite negative results on the iodine test). I guessed that some dates are picked when not quite ripe (?). Howeven now I believe it was the nuts I was eating them with that caused the inflammation.

Dried fruits

Most kinds of dried fruit are safe and non-starchy.
Never had any AS inflammation with these: sultanas, currants, apricots, figs, dates, etc. Probably because they are picked when ripe for best flavour (ie: no starch). I avoid the dried fruits that have preservatives added (I am a little bit sensitive).

I had some unusual health problems related to gut dysbiosis (tense muscles, itchy, fatigue, cheesy smell in my mouth) that would worsen when eating lots of very sweet foods.. after adding yoghurt to my diet this problem cleared right up.

see also : fruits, yoghurt

Egg plant0AKA: Aubergine. Apparently safe. Practically zero starch. Season: summer. Probably safest when in season (likely to have the least starch then).
FOS and Inulin0-4Inulin feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut and is genereally considered to be very beneficial.

2012 update: Never use product that have powdered inulin (eg. some brands of yoghurt and probiotics). I definitely react strongly to the artificially added form of inulin.. even though I now tolerate natural sources of Inulin just fine.

This can cause a good deal of pain when eaten in large amounts. However not everyone reacts to FOS or Inulin so give onions / asparagus a go once the inflammation has gone. Reaction is within about 3 hours and lasts about 48 hours. Found in onions, unripe bananas, artichoke, etc. Inulin content data from here: Onion (2-6%), Garlic (9-16%), Leek (3-10%), Banana (0.3-0.7%), Asparagus (10-15%), Jerusalem artichokes (15-20%), Chicory (13-20%),and even wheat (1-4%).
FOS = fructo-oligosaccharide

Figs0Unlike sultanas, I get quite tense after eating figs. I think there is a slight reaction? Tested -ve with the iodine test.
** ?
Fruits are an important source of carbohydrates for the NSD. I recommend grapes, pears, apples, peaches, oranges, …

Pears and grapes have always been safe for me. I tend to avoid banana’s as they are starchy until they are over ripe and spotty.

There is some excellent information about fruit here:

Be careful with unripe fruits as some cause inflammation when unripe - Dragonslayer said something which seems to hit the mark “peaches (and all fruit with bitter almond seed) should be sample tested (by the batch; not each one), since they can contain a serious and virulent form of starch if harvested too early.”

According to DFB you need 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, and since you are no longer eating starch, you must therefore eat plenty of fruit and dried fruit.

1-3Unripe fruits / Starchy fruits
Reactions vary from fruit to fruit.
Bad when unripe: Bananas and stone fruits such as Plums, Peaches, Nectarines, Mango?

The following are always safe: Pears, Grapes (and I'm sure many more)

Dragonslayer said something which seems to hit the mark “peaches (and all fruit with bitter almond seed) should be sample tested (by the batch; not each one), since they can contain a serious and virulent form of starch if harvested too early.”


Well known for it’s healing properties. The Inulin content of garlic will feed beneficial bacteria (prebiotic).
The Inulin can cause me some very mild inflammation. Fortunately it only takes a small amount to add a lot of flavour :-).. and those small amounts I have found I can tolerate quite well. Most people with AS probably have no reaction to garlic at all. See: FOS and Inulin (above).
There are other people who, like me, can not tolerate much of the FOS / Inulin that is found in garlic, onions, leek, asparagus, artichokes, chicory, banana, wheat..etc (ref a)

Grains4Grains in general are not safe. Avoid: wheat, corn, oats, rye, etc. The less the grain is processed the better it is tolerated, eg: bread causes strong inflammation but coarse ground semolina is not so bad when eaten almost raw.
Wheat causes hand / knee / heel pain (enthesitis) in me regardless of whether I eat bread or semolina.

Rice is an exception and is quite safe).

Grapes0Always safe. Even safe when not in season.
Season: Autumn
Especially leafy greens - spinach, lettuce, bok choi, choi sum, cabbage, etc.
Halva1-2?I believe I reacted quite badly to this! Need to give it another test. Reaction is most likely due to the camelisation of the sugars or the use of ‘halawa root extract’. When tested with iodine this gave a -ve result (no starch). If you do buy this then try one that does not contain halawa root extract.
Hazelnut0Safe. One of the few nuts that has an alkaline renal acid load. AKA: Filbert
Inulin I reacted to this initially but was able to adapt to it by introducing this gradually. See: FOS
Legumes3-4beans, lentils, chickpeas, soy, etc
Safe. Possibly healing (see ref-a )
Linseed (AKA: flaxseed)1-2?Not sure if this is safe for AS?. Needs more testing. I think the reaction wasn’t too big. I did however have some mild conjunctivitis, which is a symptom of reiter’s syndrome (related to AS).
Macadamias0-2Most people find this to be safe. Definitely worsens my eczema and my AS. Most people tolerate this without any problems. There appears to be some fermentable fibre I am sensitive to.
Maltodextrin2-4Not safe. See thread ..
Mustard Powder0Pure mustard powder is safe. However I can not use the mustard sauces as they contain vinegar.
(safe, low starch)
0Most nuts are not safe. The safest nuts include: pine nuts, macadamias, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, …
2-3Unsafe nuts include: cashews, chestnuts, peanuts
(Peanuts are in fact a legume)
Oils0Vegetable oils, lard, etc are safe as they contain no starch.
Olive spreads / dips are yummy :-).

Olives seem to help with relieve my eczema.

Onions3-4Pain is due to Inulin / FOS content. See: FOS, Roots
Pears0Season: Autumn
Always safe - seem to be safe even when out of season. The wonderful thing about pears is that they will continue to ripen after they are removed from the tree.
Pecans1-2Only a mild reaction.
(Pumpkin Seeds)
0These should be safe.
Do not eat the shells as they are starchy (they react to iodine).
Pine Nuts0?Very safe. Have not noticed any reactions yet.
Pistachios2-3I have moderate pain after eating about 2 or 3 handfuls of pistachios. Small amounts would be tolerable. Other people seem to tolerate pistachios well (??).
Potato Chips3-4Ate about 100 grams. Reaction started in about 4 hours. Next morning my neck was so inflamed that I could barely turn my head.
Potatoes3-4You could try baking zucchini in its place although the taste and texture are both quite different.
Pumpkin0-2Season: Autumn
In summer I tested a pumpkin and it reacted strongly to the iodine - therefore starchy. I wonder if they will be safer when in season. I previously thought these were safe. For Low Starch Diet these would be an excellent replacement for potato, sweet potato, etc. High in beta carotene. Much safer than sweet potato, potato, etc. (safer than carrots,?)

Dotyisle: this caused him inflammation. The starch content in food table says that pumpkin is extremely low in starch. Kiwi said it failed the iodine starch test. There is likely to be some seasonal variation in starch levels.

Pumpkin are closely related to squash and zucchini. According to Leigh the ’summer squash’ varieties are safest and have thin skins eg: zucchini and yellow squash. However the ‘winter squash’ varieties usually cause more stiffness and have thicker skins eg: “pumpkins, acorn squash, hubbard squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and a zillion other lesser-known varieties”.

Psyllium Husks?May not be safe. Reportedly tests +ve on iodine test (ref-A) ..
Raw Vegetable Juices0
Most raw juices seem to be very beneficial. Experiment with this! Carrot juice definitely helps. Don’t be afraid to add some fruit to the juicer, eg: apoples, pears, etc.
Rice, Brown0-1
Dotyisle finds this to be safer than white rice.
Probably less Candida than with white rice due to greater content of dietary fibre. Quite safe when in moderation.
Rice, white1Rice is perhaps an unusual exception to the ‘no starch’ rule. Seems quite safe for me, certainly no big reactions with AS. Best to eat in moderation. Bismati and long grain are both good. I need to eat plenty of greens with rice to avoid Candida - too much rice brings on a fungal infections. Some people have trouble with rice (?) but none the less I would recommend it to people starting the NSD as a replacement for the usual staples of pasta, potatoes, etc.
Roots3-4Potato, Sweet Potato, etc
Onions were not safe for me to begin with but I was able to adapt to them gradually.
Replace potato with steamed carrots and pumpkin.
Replace onions and garlic with chives, shallots, and garlic chives (I recommend growing your own garlic for this!)
0I reccommend: soy sauce, sweet soy, Lingham’s thai chilli sauce (no preservatives).tomato puree, fish sauce, wasabi, real mayonnaise (no thickeners), etc.
Be careful with sauces as most of them are not safe these days due to added thickeners, dairy, etc
I can not eat sauces that contain vinegar as I react to this.
Spices0-1eg: oregano, basil, thyme, mint, chilli, etc.
I usually stick to the spices that are from leaves as they have no starch and are therefore the safest.
Some spices are derived from nuts and seeds and really are quite starchy, but we use so little of the spice that the reaction is marginal.
Sulfur containing foods-Not recommended for those with IBS due to sulfur content causing wind in some IBS sufferers. Foods high in sulfir:broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage, eggs, plants in the mustard family (thanks to Jan)
Sunflower Seeds1-2I think I reacted to these. When tested with iodine these give a +ve reaction, although they react quite slowly — have to leave them in iodine for about an hour.

Dotyisle + PattyG can not tolerate sunflower seeds.

Semolina2?See grains. Made from wheat but far more coarsely ground then flour. Semolina is much safer than bread which just goes to show that processing of foods does tend to do more harm then good.
Sesame seeds0Quite safe. No noticeable problems yet.
Ground black sesame with currants is a very yummy desert. Better than ice cream in my opinion,
Soy milk3-4Soy milk is starchy. Unlike tofu (which is starch free).. soy milk has not had the starch content removed.
Tahini0?No reactions noticed yet.
Tofu0Safe despite being derived from a legume due to the processing method which removes crude fibre and soluble starch.
Tofu comes in many forms suchas hard todu, soft tofu, and tofu skin.
Hard tofu is a decent alternative to meat. Soft tofu (silen smooth) is good for deserts (eg: served with boiled pears). Tofu skin is good in soups, deserts (and almost everywhere else) and very handy as you don’t need to put it in the fride and can store it in the cupboard for months or even years.
Tomato0Season: Summer
Bottled tomato puree is ok - although usually test +ve with the iodine test so be careful. If you buy pasta sauce make sure that it has no onions or other rubbish. Beware of fresh tomatoes that are out of season as they can be quite starchy.
TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)0-1This is a vegetarian replacement for minced beef. Made from soy flour.. I have tried this (I tried the sanitarium brand) and it is quite safe if made correctly. No big reactions so far. When tested with iodine it gave a slight reaction. You should rinse the TVP in hot water a number of times to get rid of as much excess starch as possible. Do not consume the water used for rinsing as it really is quite starchy.
0Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cucumber, etc
see also: Greens
(wine vinegar, ascetic acid)
!! ?

Lemon juice is a good substitute (citric acid content gives a similar taste). Can also buy citric acid in most supermarkets in the baking section near the baking soda, etc.

I have an increase in pain after eating foods with vinegar. Jan (who doesn’t have AS?) said “I have problems with some forms of acidity, such as wine vinegar (ascetic acid), but not apple cider vinegar (malic acid)”. This problem probably crops up when the gut lining is in very poor health and is not strong enough to withstand the acidity.. .. or perhaps this is due to a sensitivity to yeast derived foods??

Similar beviour to alcohol ? (see: Alcohol)

Walnut0-2Mild to moderate inflammation after eating a handful or so.
Most people tolerate this without any problems though. There appears to be some fermentable fibre I am sensitive to.
Wasabi0-1?Quite Safe. No significant reactions so far. May be completely safe.
Seems to improve my ability to tolerate starch foods. Also seems to speed up recovery time after eating starchy food.
Quite Safe. No big negative reactions so far. Make absolutely sure there are no starchy additives such as thickeners, or other weird additives like inulin.. better to be safe. I believe there was some very mild inflammation for the first few days whent added yoghurt into my diet. My body quickly adjusted to yoghurt and it greatly improved my ability to tolerate sweet foods (relieves candida/fungal issues, see: Dried Fruit).

Also my concentration improved a great deal whilst eating this (some people with AS find that they can not concentrate, have ‘brain fog’, are forgetful, etc). This is very important for me as a major part of my work is programming and my ability to function at work is seriously damaged when I experience ‘brain fog’.

Like other fatty foods I find it best no to eat this with sweet foods.

Zucchini0Season: Summer
Safe. Dotyisle and others find them to be ok.

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