My Obsession with a Corn Allergy

Wow, Charli is turning 1 this week, where has the time gone?  It seems like just yesterday I was still pregnant and anxiously awaiting her arrival.  I wish you could see her now; she is getting so big, and she is very happy, healthy and sweet.  I am so blessed.  However, when Charli was about 2 months old, I noticed that she was a little cranky sometimes.  Since you all know my popcorn addiction, you know I was eating a lot of it once Charli was born.  While pregnant, I had a strong aversion to corn and so I was making up for lost time.  Well, it turned out, that when I lay off the popcorn, her crankiness disappeared!  Oh, come on, you have got to be kidding; I have to give up my popcorn?  Well, I admit that I am not perfect when it comes to staying clear of corn in my diet, but low and behold I found out that corn has long been known as an allergen.   Since 1979, when it made the top ten lists in an extensive Lancet study, correlations have been made between corn and various allergic reactions – including migraines.

What is it about corn?  Some say that the allergic reaction from corn is provoked by histamine.   Others blame the sulfites present in corn related products such as corn syrup and corn starch, and still others claim it is either pesticides used on both corn and wheat crops, or the genetically engineered versions of grains that cause the problems.

A corn allergy can often go undetected in the United States due to its high prevalence in processed foods and fast foods. Corn allergy symptoms may vary from person to person.  The best way to know if you are allergic to corn is to get an allergy test done.  Also, it might be helpful to keep a food diary in checking and cross checking which foods were found to be offensive.  But what symptoms are associated with a corn allergy?  A severe corn allergy might cause you to go into anaphylactic shock.  So these people probably know that they have a corn allergy. But for many, the symptoms may be slight, with symptoms that range from obesity to inflammation to sinus congestion.

Here are some other common symptoms:

  • Migraine headaches of levels from annoying to emergency room
  • Tingling sensation at the base of my neck that lasts for hours
  • Asthma attacks and/or shortness-of-breath
  • Tongue and face swelling
  • “Raccoon” eyes and lines from my eyes down across my cheeks
  • Rashes and hives, especially if something’s applied topically (like sunscreen)
  • Intestinal issues, such as stomach discomfort/cramps/pain, diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lethargy varying from tired to (literally) not able to stay awake
  • Joint pains, especially overnight and in my legs
  • Weakened immune system; sinus infections

However, inflammation is one of the most common symptoms. A corn allergy sufferer may not even realize they are swollen because they have gotten used to it.  If you wake up tired, think you may have arthritis, notice ankle swelling or overall body aches, you may actually be allergic to corn.  Corn allergy sufferers are also exhausted all the time and this usually gets worse with age.

In addition, abdominal troubles are extremely common among those with corn allergies.  Some sufferers may have been diagnosed with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome.  Your doctor may have even told you that you need more fiber in your diet.  After you eat, your stomach may become severely bloated or you may experience excessive burping or gas.  In extreme times, you may have been to the ER with vomiting or you have may have experienced what some doctors refer to as “blow outs” where you struggle with alternating constipation then the sudden diarrhea.

Chronic sinus problems are a telltale sign that you may be suffering from a food allergy, possibly due to corn. Symptoms may include tired eyes, stuffy and runny nose as well as post nasal drip. As well as sleep apnea and trouble breathing.  Pre-diabetic and insulin resistance symptoms can actually be related to corn allergies.  Low blood sugar, dizziness, in a fog, and cold body temperature are all symptoms related to pre-diabetic disease.

Unfortunately, corn, like gluten and soy, is in everything: popcorn, tortilla chips, jams and jellies, gluten free breads, pastas and baked goods, tortillas, cereals, ice cream, dressings, sauces, oh, the list goes on.  However, as I consider myself a food allergy expert, I know that there are foods, probably healthier and more satisfying, that can easily replace foods with corn, corn syrup, corn starch or other related products in them, and still feel satisfied and well fed!

It is so interesting, while I read this; I still struggle with the concept of giving up corn products.  And yet I am inspired knowing that Charli and I could feel even better.   I still swear that when I eat too much corn now, it is very hard for me to get out of bed in the morning.  I complain that ‘my legs are not working today.’  Also, I still have some stomach issues and my hand joints often bother me in the winter.  To top it off, when I eat too much corn, Charli is MORE cranky.  These observations have enticed me to look at my diet more closely.  My goal this month is too give up my afternoon popcorn and replace it with peanut butter topped rice cakes.  We will see how I do.  You know, I am human, and I can relate to your struggles to give up gluten.  Good luck to you and good luck to me!

This bread is great and a perfect substitute for corn bread, however my family would beg to differ…see I really can relate to your struggles to go gluten free!  That is why I am here; to cheer you on!  You can do it!

Gluten Free Millet Mock Corn Bread

Ingredients:

1/3 cup sorghum flour

1/3 cup arrowroot starch

1 cup millet flour

1 tsp xanthan gum

2 tsp baking powder

3 T sugar

3 T coconut oil

1 T egg replacer

¼ cup warm water

1 cup vanilla rice milk

1 T lemon juice

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk dry ingredients.

Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour wet ingredients into dry.

Place a cast iron pan with 2 T coconut oil into the preheated oven for 5 minutes.

Pour the millet bread batter into the pan.

Place back in the oven and bake for 18 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes.

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3 Responses to My Obsession with a Corn Allergy

  1. Dani says:

    Great article. We found out about 3-4 months ago that my daughter Jessica is allergic to corn. She has always suffered from bad headaches and stomach aches. When she was “scoped” about 8 years ago, they found nothing wrong in her esophagus or stomach other that “it looked irritated”, and migraine meds never worked. We checked for wheat intolerance, and she tolerates wheat well. Once she had allergy testing, she stopped eating corn, and the headaches are gone. She has found that she is okay with certain things like corn starch, but needs to avoid the obvious corn products, and pretty much anything with lots of preservatives, and “prepared” food. As soon as she has corn, chocolate or too many canned or preserved foods, she has a nasty headache. One thing that I would advise people to do is to get checked for allergies more often than we did….which was 10 years in between. At 10 years old, she was not allergic to corn but allergic to 13 other food items, including lettuce. (She still remains allergic to literally every plant outdoors except mugwort!) At 20 years old, she is allergic to corn, buckwheat and cantaloupe. I wish we had checked about 5 years ago.Thanks for the article, we look forward to trying the recipe!

  2. Thanks Dani! Very interesting. I bet she is so thrilled to finally have something concrete that she can avoid and finally feel good. I know that Corn can be even trickier to avoid than gluten and soy sometimes. Good for you Jessica!!!

  3. Nicole says:

    Xanthan gum is a corn derived product… be careful!

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