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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 have celiac disease. After eliminating "the usual suspects" I found oat avenin was even more of a problem. So I don't eat it anymore either. Now I'm sure I'm still ingesting something that sets off the same symptoms, and corn seems to be the culprit although I haven't restricted my use of it yet. It fills the empty place left in my diet after I cut out so many other offenders. But I guess corn is next. All I can do is stop eating all corn-containing products and see if I feel better. I can always add it back if this proves not to be the case.

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    Guest Joy Greenhalgh

    Posted

    I have celiac disease. After eliminating "the usual suspects" I found oat avenin was even more of a problem. So I don't eat it anymore either. Now I'm sure I'm still ingesting something that sets off the same symptoms, and corn seems to be the culprit although I haven't restricted my use of it yet. It fills the empty place left in my diet after I cut out so many other offenders. But I guess corn is next. All I can do is stop eating all corn-containing products and see if I feel better. I can always add it back if this proves not to be the case.

    This article is out of date. There is now scientific evidence that shows that coeliacs are more likely to have auto immune reaction to dairy (casein) and corn. I am one of those people! Gluten corn oats and dairy all make me,very ill. I don't need tests,to prove,this! I keep a very careful food and symptom diary.

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    I also am a celiac who became very responsive to rice and corn. Before I was diagnosed with celiac, my eye lids were swelling and extremely itchy. I actually stretched my skin from scratching. After I was diagnosed, I started getting hives on my face and my lips actually itched and oozed a clear, sticky substance. It was the weirdest thing. I finally figured out that rice and corn were the culprits. I cannot have ANY amount of rice or corn products or I will have these symptoms. Pretty upsetting considering most gluten-free things have rice and/or corn in them. But I am thankful that I know what to avoid and hopefully live a long and healthy life.

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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...

    YES CORN IS PROBLEMATIC IN CELIACS!!!! The information in this website is very outdated and it´s a shame because a lot of people are being mislead. Google a term called "cross reaction" in celiacs. You will learn that the immune system in patients with celiac disease are prone to cross reaction meaning their immune systems will mistake corn, dairy products, yeast and other things as gluten. So you need to stay away from those things as well. Trust me...google it and google a Dr. Clark on youtube. He explains cross reactions and foods that celiacs need to avoid. Much more updated info.

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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...

    I feel for you Eileen! I have Hashimoto's and find I get tremendous inflammation from gluten, tomato, corn, rice, soy, oats, and white potatoes. With dairy I get migraine & mucus. It seems "white foods" make me sick. It is not a coincidence that these are some of the most mass produced, GMO , pesticide and synthetic chemical laden foods out there. My body rejects them because they´re so adulterated - they're not food anymore. I also react to meats that were raised on these foods. Have had to switch to grass fed/finished beef, organic chicken and wild fish to avoid inflammation. When my inflammation goes up - my thyroid symptoms get worse 1) because my body´s autoimmune disease kicks into high gear to fight the offending foods, and 2) because of inflammation my liver can't convert the Thyroid replacement medicine I take into a form my body can use - so I have very little benefit from my medication and I have worse thyroid symptoms. Listen to your body and do what it needs. Also get sleep, curb stress, exercise and drink lots of water. Best to you!

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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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