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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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    Better yet, Ms. Sylvia should stay off this website and others like it. I do not have celiac disease or any other disease that I am aware of, but I'm sure those that do are already frustrated and upset with having to remove a list of items from their daily diet. Especially cases like Eileen, who also have an intolerance to dairy, eggs and other foods. Furthermore, those who suffer with a condition such as celiac disease are probably even more frustrated with having to take drugs to replace the nutrients from said foods and their benefits.

     

    A perfect example of kicking someone while they are down. I am becoming very upset, so Ill just wish good luck and good health to everyone who is suffering from an ailment.

    Being newly diagnosed with celiac disease, Thank you for your post.

     

    People who do not know or do not take the time to research before they post come off as insensitive.

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    An article in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, published November 14, 2012, is called "Celiac Disease: Prevalence, diagnosis, pathogenesis and treatment", and addresses the corn issue as follows: "celiac disease is an intestinal enteropathy triggered by the ingestion of gliadin AND OF OTHER RELATED PROLAMINS in genetically predisposed individuals" (p. 6040; bold-face emphasis mine). "Gluten is a protein that appears in wheat, barley, rye and oat, compositing of prolamin and glutelin. THE MAJORITY OF THE PROTEINS IN FOOD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE IMMUNE REACTION IN celiac disease ARE THE PROLAMINS. Prolamins is[sic] found in several grains, such as wheat (gliadin), barley (hordein) and rye (secalin), CORN(zein) and as a minor protein, avenin in oats. Because of their high glutamine content and specific sequence patterns, prolamins are resistant to gastrointestinal proteolytic enzymes" (p. 6041; boldface emphasis mine). Translating the jargon, this means that the sub-element of gluten that causes problems is prolamin, and there is a type of prolamin found in corn. Thus, it is not unreasonable to assume that people with celiac disease will be challenged by corn. This article does not make recommendations about diet other than refraining from all gluten-containing foods, but given that they say that it is prolamins that cause the immune reaction, and corn contains prolamins, the logical conclusion is that corn can be a problem. I saw a reference on another website to a journal article that stated that about 30% of people with celiac disease have corn anti-bodies present in their blood (and are therefore having an immune reaction to corn), which concluded that people should ask for this blood test, but I have not read the source article so I can't speak to the accuracy of that claim.

    Excellent! See also:

     

    Plant Foods Hum Nutr (2012) 67:24–30

    DOI 10.1007/s11130-012-0274-4

     

    Maize Prolamins Resistant to Peptic-tryptic Digestion

    Maintain Immune-recognition by IgA from Some Celiac

    Disease Patients

     

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    Sylvia, you obviously are not and do not have a loved one who is stricken with celiac disease. Otherwise you'd not makes such an insensitive comment. What an idiot! Do yourself a favor, read some book on the disease, try to cultivate some degree of compassion for others. Otherwise you're just an empty vessel and waste of life.

    I don't know Sylvia personally, so I don't know the motive of her comment. With all the sensitivities and allergies that people have toward various foods, it almost -- almost -- sounds like a reasonable suggestion, joking of course. About 1% of Americans and Britons suffer from celiac disease, which requires a gluten-free diet. However, I think I read somewhere that 57% of people who buy gluten-free products do so because they believe these items are healthier for them. They are not. Most people benefit from products such as whole wheat, barley, and rye, etc. Those who suffer from celiac diseases and similar maladies benefit from gluten-free diets -- not everyone.

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    I was really glad to find this article because I have seen food with 'corn gluten' in the ingredients and since my diet is boring enough already, I thought 'Oh no, that's one more thing I can't have!' I said, 'Corn is great, and I can have it. Why ruin it? What idiot decided to start putting GLUTEN into corn?'

     

    Thanx very much for clearing that up for me!

    According to Wikipedia, gluten is a protein composite of a gliadin and a glutenin. It is naturally present in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, etc. Corn gluten is not the same product. It is composed of the protein prolamin, which does not exacerbate celiac disease. So, corn-based products are okay for celiac patients as long as these products do not contain gliadin or glutenin.

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    I too am sensitive to glutens and started having problems with corn BUT things seemed to improve when I switched to non-GMO products (including corn). It is a wonderful addition to the gluten free diet!

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    Anyone else have problems with corn? I am aware that it is not gluten, but after my celiac disease diagnosis I slowly became more sensitive to other foods. Rice first. (ouch) Then corn. Soy. Tomato. Besides the yeast, dairy, eggs, acidic foods...

    Everything you mentioned plus potatoes for me have been deemed as harmful. My celiac took over 2 years to diagnose with a final biopsy. Damage was done to my intestines to the point that if I were to continue, I would require an operation on them. Good thing I stopped all those foods. They were murder, one day it'll get better. Go Paleo and use almond flour, arrow root, maple syrup for all sauces as a base. etc.

    What you have is a extreme case of celiac mixed with other complex auto immune factors like me. I have Stills and they are checking for MS now. Do NOT LISTEN and pay attention to forum people who make jokes out of this. It isn't funny. Because often people don't have extreme forms of celiac. They talk crap.

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    Response to Eileen Swanson who seems to think she is allergic to corn, rice, soy, tomato, yeast, dairy, eggs, acidic foods....Goodness, this sounds like a perfect reason to create food out of cardboard....

    I hope you get Eileens type celiac so you can understand and become a better person. I'll pray you do.

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    Better yet, Ms. Sylvia should stay off this website and others like it. I do not have celiac disease or any other disease that I am aware of, but I'm sure those that do are already frustrated and upset with having to remove a list of items from their daily diet. Especially cases like Eileen, who also have an intolerance to dairy, eggs and other foods. Furthermore, those who suffer with a condition such as celiac disease are probably even more frustrated with having to take drugs to replace the nutrients from said foods and their benefits.

     

    A perfect example of kicking someone while they are down. I am becoming very upset, so Ill just wish good luck and good health to everyone who is suffering from an ailment.

    Thank You, I have severe celiac and Stills and nerve damage etc. Checking for MS now. Thanks for being logical and supportive to Eileen.

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    I hope you get Eileens type celiac so you can understand and become a better person. I'll pray you do.

    Whom are you praying to, atheist lady? I don't believe Sylvia meant any harm in her comment. Dietary issues are horrible to live with and difficult to get under control, but you must have a bit of levity with things, otherwise you will go insane.

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    Corn may not be an issue due to gluten, but people with sugar absorption issues (like diabetes) know that it can trigger problematic reactions. SO do be careful when you consider corn as an alert and keep it to a small portion. It is also very processed and it may trigger people who have chemical sensitivities.

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    Anyone else have problems with corn? I am aware that it is not gluten, but after my celiac disease diagnosis I slowly became more sensitive to other foods. Rice first. (ouch) Then corn. Soy. Tomato. Besides the yeast, dairy, eggs, acidic foods...

    It will take awhile to recover if you have just discovered your gluten issue. some people are able to have dairy, corn and soy after they detox from being 'glutened'. It's hard to try things again once it gets so bad (ie...shortness of breath, horrible bloating, flu like symptoms from being glutened'.

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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.

    I'm glad you are feeling better and finding things that work to help you manage your celiac symptoms. I was diagnosed with Celiac, plus, GERD, gastritis, duodenitis, etc., with a plethora of symptoms in January, but have suffered for over 7 years. Gluten free was not enough. I took a blood test and started working with a nutritionist at which point I ended up in the ER with Edema. That was when I broke down and prayed for God to people give me answers. I felt like it was something simple, like being deficient in something. I live a health lifestyle, so my health issues did not make any sense. After a lot of prayer and trial and error, I went from feeling like I was dying to feeling youthful again. I hope sharing what has worked for me with help others. We are all different, but it was through talking to others and sharing our successes that allowed me to manage my health issues and pretty much feel normal, again; except for gluten. Prayer is a very powerful thing and we must never giving up hope that we will find what works for us.

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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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