Monthly Archives: November 2013
Don’t Sabotage Your Paleo Diet with Corn
With so much talk over the last few years about gluten, it can be confusing to know what to eat and what to avoid. The food industry is not making it easier for you either. They label many products as “gluten free” without themselves really knowing what contains gluten and what does not. As a consumer, this leaves you second guessing your decisions about the appropriate foods to stock your pantry and refrigerator with. Moreover, it results in your frustration as you feel that you are eating foods that do not contain gluten, when in reality they do. If you feel this frustration that I speak of, know that you are not alone. There are others as agitated about this mislabeling practice as you.
The Food Industry’s Lie
Likely the food ingredient most to blame for the food industry’s misguidance is corn. Some time back my curiosity was triggered by all of the gluten free labels in the grocery store. Not being able to leave well enough alone, I had to examine each of the labels to see what the main ingredient replacing the commonly used wheat was. To my surprise, every bag I picked up at that particular store stated corn as the primary ingredient. Spinning the bag from front to back repeatedly, I had to check to make sure I was not misreading the label. But I was not. It said what I feared. It stated gluten free and then went on to use corn as the replacement ingredient. My first thought was this is blasphemy. If we counted the number of times I have instructed patients on the importance of being grain free and not just gluten free, my frustration with the food industry would be well understood.
What is Corn really?
In short, corn is a grain, and as with any grain, there are inherent risks associated with eating it. Corn has become a science experiment in many ways. The conversation on avoiding corn can be irritating for some. I completely understand this, yet, we have to recognize the history of corn and what has been classically considered gluten free. Originally, gluten has been considered only to be a problem if you were eating wheat, oats, barley or rye. While these unquestionably contain gluten, they are not the only ones to do so. Gluten, and more specifically prolamines, one of the immune stimulating components of gluten, is found in all grains. So by its very definition, this makes corn a problematic food. Corn contains gluten because it contains the prolamine, zein.
But My Recent Lab Tests Don’t Show a Reaction to Corn
The picture can become especially confusing when you factor in lab testing. Labs associated with food reactions have the ability to check two types of reactions, immediate and delayed. The immediate reaction is what we think about as a classic allergy. Delayed reactions are not allergies, but rather sensitivities. In the case of corn, as with almost any food, you can develop either type of reaction. Most individuals are somewhat aware of allergies, but they may still hide themselves and not be apparent. The idea of having a full blown allergy attack is certainly possible, but does not represent the majority of allergic reactions. In contrast, it is also possible to have a delayed reaction which takes longer to manifest after exposure to the stimulating food. For most food reactions, delayed reactions are what I recommend testing as they can be the most elusive. Yet as with any food testing, caution should be used with interpretation and understand that there can be a degree of unintended ambiguity with the results. If a food you were suspecting does not show up, there remains the possibility that your immune system may be reacting through a mechanism that was not part of the testing you performed. This does not mean the testing is flawed, rather that the immune system is complex.
Corn Has Many Problems
Corn is a known problem though. When you factor in the fact that it is a grain, often refined, and genetically modified when derived from commercial agriculture sources, corn should quickly lose its appeal. Corn is not the food that many of us once thought of it as. Rather, it is a genetically mutated cross between a food substance and bacteria able to produce a damaging toxin that has been shown in studies to damage red blood cells. Equally as important, this same toxin damages the gut lining according to additional research, setting up the infamous “leaky gut”.
The Best Solution is Avoidance
The best solution to escaping all of these damaging effects from a genetically mutated food substance that the food industry has lied to you about is avoidance. If you are not eating it, it cannot damage your health. Make no mistake, the consumption of corn as we now know it, as with other grains, has been repeatedly shown to be problematic to the health of humans. Whether it is the promotion of intestinal permeability and autoimmune reactions, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, or other common health ailments, your health will benefit most by not consuming grains. Therefore, if you are looking for the most ideal pattern to support your efforts, the Paleo Diet is your answer.