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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Corn Gluten - Is it Safe for a People with Celiac Disease Who are on a Gluten-Free Diet?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    The term gluten in reference to the cohesive, elastic protein mass remaining after starch is washed from a dough goes back to Beccari in 1745. Strictly speaking, gluten is found only in wheat because it is difficult to wash a cohesive protein mass even from rye, the closest relative to wheat, let alone from barley or oats or anything else. Unfortunately, a misuse of the term by the corn industry has become common in recent years. It has become fairly common to call corn storage proteins corn gluten. Personally, I think there is no justification for such usage. Corn may contain prolamins, as does wheat, but not gluten.

    When it comes to celiac disease, a similar corruption of the term has become very common. There are certain related proteins in wheat, rye, and barley that give rise to particular peptides during digestion that are capable of triggering the responses typical of celiac disease. Only in the case of wheat can these be strictly considered to be derived from the gluten proteins. But for lack of a suitable term, patients and their physicians began speaking of gluten-free or gluten-containing foods. People ask me, How much gluten is there in quinoa? I have to translate this into, Are there any harmful peptide sequences in the proteins of quinoa? There is nothing in quinoa that is like gluten prepared from a wheat flour dough, which has an unusual, perhaps unique, viscoelastic character.

    In any case, as far as we know, corn does not seem to cause harm to celiac patients. Corn has not been studied in the extensive way that wheat has in relation to celiac disease, but for 40+ years patients and their physicians have seemed to agree that corn is OK. The sequences in the corn zein (prolamin) fraction are suspicious, but they do differ in an apparently crucial way from the protein sequences of the wheat gliadin (prolamin) fraction. There have been no modern biopsy-based studies of the effects of purified corn proteins on the celiac intestine as there have been for wheat, but the mass of evidence still seems to point in the direction of corn being safe for celiac patients.


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    I'm really intolerant to corn - it makes me really ill. I'm struggling to find food I can eat as I plan to go gluten free very soon. It seems that the only alternative to wheat is corn - I despair!!

    Hi! I am gluten intolerant and have severe intestine damage, as it was not diagnosed for 11 years. I am now fine and consume Ragi (we call this in India), rice and sorghum-made breads. Ragi is extremely calcium rich and very healthy. You may try this. All the best. Life is good now.

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    I feel ya, Glynis. Corn seems to be in everything. Even if I go to a restaurant that has allergy protocols, I still get corned.

     

    Have you searched for Grain free alternatives? These cookbook authors also have blogs: Elena Amsterdam has an almond flour cookbook, Spunky Coconut (I think she is Christian). I also find some ideas on Grain Free Mom (don't know her name) and Cooking Traditional Foods (the mom and a few kids have been diagnosed as Celiacs)

     

    I went gluten free and about 2-3 months later got really sick. The corn was just too much. It's a fairly common occurrence to go gluten-free, feel better for a few months, than consider grain free for better healing.

     

    I recently got Pascalite clay and take it before eating out. It helps minimize (not eliminate) any discomfort from being corned.

    You can eat Ragi and Sorghum. They are aboslutely safe and gluten-free.

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    My husband was just diagnosed and he is 64. Reading your comments has been very helpful. He had lost 30 lbs before being dianosed - they thought it was cancer. Finding food gluten-free here in Wpg, MB Canada is very difficult but we are looking to the internet for help and this website is great.

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    Think about going natural and organic - no preservatives, additives, thickeners/emulsifiers - and eat simple for 2-3 months with foods you know do not bother you - including obviously the proven gluten-containing grains - and others as needed. If you can get the inflammation down doing this then slowly one by one - perhaps even one a week add those questionable ones back in - while still staying additive free. You may find that it is things like carrageenan (from red seaweed species) causing the inflammation - found in tons of dairy products-including most ice creams, soy, almond milk (though Whole Foods has removed it from almond milk, soy and coconut are on the way); also watch seaweed and seaweed in canned products like beans, and of course MSG or monoammonium glutamate - MSG was originally derived from seaweed. Often times these inflammatory additives never let us heal and more and more complex carbs become harder and harder for our digestive systems to handle thus we assume they are gluten-like and off our list. So, for example, is it the soy causing the problem or the carrageenan in every soy milk? For me this emulsifier made from seaweed not only causes me gastrointestinal issues but joint and muscle pain as if I had eaten gluten.

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    To the admin - author - my son is a runner and subscribes to active.com website. You will love this article on celiac disease, GS, gluten-free eating. There is so much misinformation - it is hard to know where to begin critiquing it (see "Is Eating Gluten Bad for You?" by Jaylin Allen active.com) from the gluten-free diets can be "helpful" to people with celiac disease, sugar and fat are the binding agents for gluten-free (not eggs and the gums), and then there is the fellow who posts the lastest research that states gluten is in corn and rice. Many other points are off in this piece including the caloric value in terms of fats with pretzels. Snyder's (not sure about Glutino) are about the same, granted the wheat ones have the natural protein. The calories in gluten-free food are usually from the flours that are higher calories than wheat coupled with the need for more moisture via extra fat/oil, not necessary more added sugar - though one can argue the glycemic index of the flours impacts overall "sugar" metabolism.

     

    This would be a good piece to review for your website, as points to make are that gluten-free products, unlike wheat based ones, are not always fortified, etc. and eating complex carbs in vegetables over too many gluten-free products is advisable. Many other points as well as written in "wheat belly" in terms of how it is metabolized, its inflammatory nature for some GS folks, etc. that may help and has helped some athletes perform better.

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    The other thing to consider with corn is that it could be contaminated with wheat - as happens often with oats - that might not only be rotated with wheat in the fields but also potentially contaminated from field to processing in factories. Not certain of the likelihood of this, but it is something to consider especially more likely with corn products - corn flour, corn meal or especially tortilla shells, wraps, even if wheat or gluten-free as opposed to corn on the cob as these may not be processed in dedicated gluten-free factories. I had to stop purchasing gluten-free pizza as even if prepared in a separate area or oven, the flour from the wheat pizza easily contaminates the gluten-free pizza in small shops. Contamination has to be considered when assessing a corn tolerance issue.

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    I hate corn, and the whole corn industry that forces it into EVERYTHING. So I'm like commenter #1 in that corn gives me the same reaction as gluten, namely: making my 'acne' flare up (dermatitis herpetiformis). I'm getting another round of scratch testing done to check for allergies to things like corn. I am also looking into metal poisoning (I have a number of metals I'm actually allergic to from my dermatological testing: nickel, chromium, aluminum, etc). Then I'm looking at candida and/or parasite issues. But I still have to eat. Does anyone have anything I can actually eat? I'm really hungry.

    I too have super sensitivity to nickel. You may want to look into nickel ingested from foods. It naturally occurs in lots of foods absorbed from earth. Legumes (soybeans are the worst for me), raspberries etc. It is hard to find data, but there is some. Some dermatologists disagree - find one that doesn't! It changed my life. Oddly enough, teas contain pretty high content, but they were what helped me diagnose. Avoiding it has cleared up terrible dermatitis on my hands.

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    A good attempt to clsarify the "Corn - OK or Not for Celiacs" question but as with every aspect of the autoimmune diseases, there are just too many variables, too many opportunities for concurrently occurring conditions to overlap, making a generic answer to the simply phrased question impossible. I have psioritic arthritis and celiac, the PA brings its own distinct allergens (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, strawberries, citrus fruits) and I've found oats and corn trigger a bad reaction. But by ruthlessly excluding gluten and these additional PA triggers I have claimed back my life. Experiment but be aware, every failed experiment has inflicted real physical damage on you, somewhere.

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    I have had celiac for several years, but the gluten-free diet was only slightly helpful. Over the years I "scientifically" identified dozens of foods that don't work for me, but the list makes no sense. Recently I got and additional diagnosis of Fructose Malabsorption. This helps explain many of the things I can't eat, and also suggests many things that I eat lots of (Fruit, onions, garlic, vegetables, honey...)that I should not have been eating. Now, when I stick to the gluten-free and MF diets, I really can eat most of the things I thought were bothering me. Most of my list was bad science from making too many assumptions. I am in the process of retesting everything. I still might have a problem with cornstarch and yeast, but almost everything not on the gluten-free or FM list now seems to work.

    You know, I just read about how fatty acids in products like coconut oil work with different sugar usage and such. You might want to explore the idea for food combinations. Coconut oil is curing Alzheimer's: they are thinking Alzheimer's disease is like a brain starved of sugars it can absorb. Thus, it is kind of similar to diabetes. By aiding in sugar absorption in the brain, maybe we're curing Alzheimer's. Maybe some of these issues are about what foods you are eating and in what combinations. Also, I personally am convinced that your MTdna is the key to how we should eat, as that is the way we are adapted to eat in our very cells by our direct ancestors before us. You might want to take a trip into understanding that concept a little bit.

     

    If we have not been consuming food we need or are geared for, it may set us up for some major imbalances. Just a thought.

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    I have been celiac/gluten-free for 2 years. I recently had a horrible episode that sent me to a specialist, as I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I knew I hadn't had any gluten. After two months of inflammation and pain, I started doing my own research and eliminated corn. I could not believe the difference. I have tested it since, and I am just as sensitive to corn as I am to wheat gluten. I wish they would study it more here; they have overseas and confirmed it does have the same effect with some people.

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    My 3 year old has celiac disease, and is suffering from malabsorbtion and presented with increasing skin complaints with upset gastro and undigested food in stools. When we went off wheat, his body was covered in a burn-like rash with tiny pimples... To which the allergist suggested was a corn intolerance as that was what all the gluten free easily accessible foods contained. Honestly, Eileen, I would never dismiss your corn reaction. Not everyone's condition is the same. My son is also high positive intolerant (blood tested) to dairy, soy, egg white, oranges, cashews and peas... Life isn't easy. We are a family of 5 and we get around it by eating clean, raw or steamed foods with no processed or sauced foods. My son has also just had an allergic reaction to soy with welts and redness on his face. You are not alone. It is time consuming and certainly challenging. The best person I've found is a nutritionist. They are fabulous with knowledge of food production and can help with nutritional deficiencies, even enzymes to help when internals are showing signs of inflammation if something "sneaks" through... Finding or sourcing foods that work for you is the biggest issue. I feel for you and hope you got some answers.

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    I've just figured out, myself, in the last week, that I have celiac disease. My doctor insists it's IBS. Well, I've been reading and following strictly, a Gluten Free Diet. It's only been a week, and I am starting to feel a significant change in my body.Earlier today, after reading an article that Corn was 'okay' to eat, I cooked corn on the cob for dinner. Almost instantly, I started feeling my legs getting heavy, my hands and legs going numb, and felt just as I did prior to figuring out that it was Gluten affecting me. The corn (for me) does not agree with whatever My body is trying to fight against. I have been very ill for 3 yrs, and saw several doctors. All misdiagnosed and wanted to pump drugs into me. I am glad I followed my own instincts and hope I am going to feel better with each day.

    I was diagnosed 2 years ago with celiac disease. My number then was 15. At the time, even though I was sick for what seemed a daily thing, I continued to eat what I wanted regardless of the havoc my body went through as a result. Well for the past 4 months I've spent much of it ill and bouts of diapheria several times a day. I followed up with my GI doctor who was positive it was my celiac disease, and my lack of following the gluten-free diet. He did blood work again and my celiac number is now 61. I am convinced now that eating what I wanted has caused me to be sick and now I'm 3 days following the gluten-free diet. I have to say I'm already noticing a significant difference in my well being and less time spent in the ladies room suffering behind closed doors. Now I'm all about embracing this disease that I have and I am now a compliant celiac disease patient.

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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