I'm guilty of the infraction Tim described in his first post to this thread - discovered the NSD, it worked, so stopped coming here for help. However I felt an obligation to come back and share my experience in the hope that it may help and inspire others.
I was diagnosed with seronegative spondyloarthropathy in the summer of 2004 at the age of 44. My symptoms were comparatively mild - lower back stiffness and pain in the hips, especially when seated too long. My doctor prescribed various NSAIDs, and I eventually settled on diclofenac. For the first half a year, I thought things were pretty well under control, since I could feel fairly good after taking 50 to 100 mg of diclofenac. The routine was that I would take some medication, feel decent for a day, maybe two, then the pain and stiffness would return to the point where I felt I needed to take more pills. During this time I also read a lot on the web about this disease and its treatment, and learned that chronic use of NSAIDs was likely to lead to bleeding ulcers and other problems. Somewhere along the way, I came across KickAS and the no-starch diet. I consider myself a logical, scientific person, not some new-age health-food holistic-healing nut, and scoffed at the notion that a diet could help an auto-immune arthritis. I disregarded the NSD and went back to reading more “scholarly” articles about AS on the web.
Over the next half a year, my symptoms gradually worsened. My hip pain was now chronic, causing pain with each step. I could feel stiffness creeping into my neck and shoulders. Back stiffness was quite pronounced. I had to stand frequently during the day at work to alleviate the pain from sitting. I began to get depressed wondering what I would be like in 5, 10, 20 years.
Within a month of my diagnosis, I began daily charting of my pain levels, medications, exercise habits, anything I could think of that may have had an effect on how I felt. Typically I took diclofenac every day or every other day.
I eventually wandered back to KickAS and the NSD forum and started reading posts. It was such a radical diet, especially since I existed on breads, pasta and cereal, that it took a couple months to convince myself to try it. I gave it a casual one-week shot and proclaimed that it didn't work, not actually sure that I wanted it to since I couldn't imagine giving up all those wonderful, starchy foods.
Another few months passed with continual worsening of my symptoms. I did more reading of NSD posts on this forum, including some of the scientific theory behind it: Klebsiella in my gut feed on the undigested starches. My immune system is confused between klebsiella and my own body's cells due to molecular mimicry. Starve out the klebs via the NSD and the pain and inflammation decreases.
I went back through my year of pain charts and looked at the time that I went the longest without drugs - 6 days - and read in my notes that during that time I'd suffered from a nasty stomach flu that effectively purged my GI tract and prevented me from eating much of anything for several days. But my joints actually felt pretty good. Hmmm, maybe there WAS a connection between the gut and pain...
By now I decided that I needed to give the NSD a real chance. It was September of 2005. I promised myself I would be serious about it for at least 3 months. I would proclaim it successful if I could cut my NSAID use to once a week. I went strict NSD from the beginning. I kept eliminating more and more things from my diet, but still had enough pain to warrant diclofenac every few days. After a month and a half, I eventually hit upon the right combination. I went for a full 2 months without any NSAIDs and felt really pretty good! It was time for some negative reinforcement to prove to myself that this crazy diet was working. A lunchtime trip to the Olive Garden with coworkers for pasta and breadsticks gave me that opportunity. Two days later the pain forced me back on NSAIDs. I've been NSD ever since, for over two years now.
I still keep daily charts of my pain levels, exercise, medications, and now diet. There have been several times when I experienced a return of significant pain and thought the diet wasn't working, only to discover that starch had crept into my diet unknowingly (iodine is a must!) It is a difficult diet to follow and requires a lot of self-discipline. There have been many times when I felt sorry for myself for being deprived of some wonderful foods. I get over my self-pity pretty quickly, though, when I remember that I'm able keep this disease in check. I no longer have chronic pain when I walk. I rarely have to stand during the day anymore to alleviate pain from sitting. My lower back is pretty good in the morning and I can actually bend over the sink to wash my face. I haven't felt any neck or shoulder stiffness in months. I'm not pain-free, but it's very tolerable. I still take diclofenac on occasion, but now measure the time between doses in weeks or months.
Give the NSD an honest try. I’m thankful I did.