• Children’s Book Author Recaptures Health with No-Starch Diet

    Paul Schmid and Maurice Sendak

    Maurice Sendak and Paul Schmid, 2010. Photo by Lynn Caponera.

    Paul Schmid is an award winning artist, and internationally published author and illustrator of children’s books.

    In 1993, Paul discovered he has Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). AS is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can be involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.
    Paul Schmid on mountain


    He struggled with it for several years until he discovered a no-starch diet (NSD) that successfully eliminated the pain and inflammation caused by this form of arthritis. A no-starch diet eliminates all grains, potatoes, and beans.

    Paul took some time out of his book schedule to answer some questions and share his coconut muffin recipe.


    Paul Schmid muffins


    How did you discover you have AS?

    I had been waking up at night with difficulty breathing from my ribs being unable to move, seemingly frozen in place. My doctor diagnosed me with Ankylosing Spondylitis, and said there was no cure.

    My pain and stiffness increased over the years from a mild annoyance to a disturbing level of daily pain. I was working up to being on pain suppressants constantly. By 2001 there was a growing list of things I could not or simply did not want to do. I looked gaunt and sickly.

    In October 2001 I started a no-starch diet (NSD). I didn’t make significant progress reducing pain and inflammation until I took a course of antibiotics to fight off pneumonia in February of 2002. By this time I was on a NSD and began to experience reduced pain and inflammation. I was able to stop taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by March of 2002. My diet became full NSD as of June 2002.

    How did you end up trying a no-starch diet (NSD)? 

    I was researching AS cures on the internet in 2001 and found a forum that included research done by Dr. Alan Ebringer, then Professor of Immunology at King’s College London. (http://www.kickas.org) He discovered that if his patients with AS reduced their starch intake, their pain and inflammation was also reduced.

    Taking antibiotics for pneumonia seems unusual. Was it identified as a bacterial pneumonia? Why did it help?

    Yes, it was bacterial pneumonia. The connection between starch and AS is a strange and complex one. We all have a bacteria in our gut called Klebsiella pneumoniae. They feed primarily on starch in the gut. My immune system does not like this bacteria, and responds by triggering inflammation in the spine. Over a period of years, constant inflammation can actually fuse the spine together into one solid, unmoving bone. Antibiotics helped to reduce the population of this bacteria in my gut, and the no-starch diet keep the population unfed and the population down to such a degree that my immune system does not need to react. After a few years of eating no starch, I had regained all of my former spinal mobility, and now live a pain free life. (Except for that which my teenage daughter gives me.)

    It sounds like you have a good handle on managing your energy and food throughout the day and on trips. Do you have any favorite snack recipes?

    I found in the beginning that the energy got from starch needed to be replaced by adding fats and proteins to my diet. As my system became used to a low or no starch diet, my body adjusted and I could reduce my fat intake. I still believe fats are essential to robust health. Paradoxically, on a low starch, high fat diet, I initially lost a lot of weight. But since fats are absorbed by the digestive system slowly, they don’t provide the flush of calories to the system that flour does, and the body does not kick into energy storage mode.

    For snacks I make a form of Boy Scout GORP: a mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. I put everything I can into it, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dates, prunes, dried cherries, (excellent for reducing inflammation,) flaked coconut, candied ginger, (also good for inflammation) etc. etc.

    I am grateful that my diet limitations do not include chocolate or alcohol!

    Do you have a favorite recipe or food that you’d like to share? 

    For years I gave up baked goodies, but recently began to experiment with almond flour and coconut flour. Now I make coconut flour muffins about once a week for my daughter and I. I like to change the recipe slightly each time I make it, adding spices and various dried fruits to add new flavors, moisture, and texture. Your book Erica, is a treasure house of treats!

     Paul Schmid muffins

    Posted in Breakfast, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Interviews, Lactose-Free, Paleo, SCD, Snacks, Vegetarian  |  6 Comments

    6 Responses to Children’s Book Author Recaptures Health with No-Starch Diet

    1. Marnie Post says:

      All my AS symptoms went away on the scd when I first went on it in 2000. I was diagnosed with AS a few years after I was diagnosed with crohn’s. So glad to hear about other people getting well with good food! Reading about AS reminded me about how sore my ribs would be in the morning. So glad that feeling is a distant memory.

    2. Jan Gagnon says:

      SCD diet really improved my Crohn’s dz.

    3. Nancy says:

      Thanks for sharing! I love hearing about people getting well thru diet rather than meds, although, it sounds like the antibiotics really helped Paul in the beginning. But after that he got it under control thru what he ate. Awesome! He’s cute, too 🙂

    4. Sally says:

      love the cinnamon bun muffins (almond flour) I have a question tho about the oven temperature. 310 in stead of 350 ? is that correct. I automatically set the oven to 350 and baked for 25 min. and they came out fine. they are absolutely delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

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