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BEWARE!! Corn is NOT 'Gluten Free'

Updated on September 2, 2010

Suitability Rate for Coeliac Disease

Most of us know that gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. It is typically present in these cereal grains, which are present in many of our everyday processed foods.

We do not know, at this point in time, whether corn gluten is safe for individuals with Coeliac Disease. There has been some disturbing evidence on the effects of corn on coeliac disease as a fair proportion of those on gluten free diets have been required to avoid corn due to similar reactions to that from wheat, rye, barley and oats.

There are brands around in Australia who's gluten free products now that are also corn free. This also suggests some interesting background to the subject. Additionally, the prolamins in corn (zein) have not been adequately studied as to their adverse effect on Coeliac Disease. Due to this, it remains questionable as to whether corn is necessary to avoid on a gluten free diet.

Below is a list of prolamins (i.e. plant storage proteins having a found in the seeds of cereal grains):

wheat (gliadin),

rye (secalin)

barley (hordein)

oat (avenin)

corn (zein)

It's a heart sinking feeling when thinking about all that tempting food with corn derivatives and all in all, however this is one I would say you will have to make your own choice about.

The article with relation to Chinese Herbs makes mention of the fact that corn and oats are possibly in a similar category, with regard to gluten.

And me? I just ate a packet of Doritos Original Corn Chips, and I will admit I do seem to feel a slight sensation in my stomach after eating large amounts of milled corn. So maybe it may be an idea for YOU to investigate this further. I have included some relevant posts and articles for your information.

In conclusion:

Corn contains gluten, as do all grains. Whether the effects of corn on individuals is directly or indirectly related to coeliac disease remains somewhat a mystery. Perhaps the long-term effects may also be an issue. This poses a new question to go and think about: How can something be gluten free if it contains a grain that contains gluten (i.e. corn, rice, millet, etc.)? I guess it has come to be just like individuals refer to a vacuum flask as a Thermos (after the brand name Thermos) and a pen as a Biro. Interesting how the english language adapts itself to society!  Hmmm...

Enjoy your hunt!


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    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 5 years ago from Australia

      emalkire, I appreciate your comment. However, I have to tell you that according to Dr. Peter Osborne, there is now more evidence that corn is a problem than that it isn't. I myself remain cautious and am not willing to wait for proper studies to evaluate their safety. I feel others should be informed.

    • profile image

      emalkire 5 years ago

      Gluten is a general term meaning protein regardless it comes from grains or not. I've seen recipes and articles using the term Pork Gluten for Pork meat as well as beef gluten for beef meat. So gluten is a general term but glutenfree is specific to free from gluten from wheat, rye, oats, barley, splet, and other grains of the wheat genom and their derivitives. If you didn't know this that it's confusing like for those who are new to the diet.

      Is the gluten in other grains harmful to Celiacs? Maybe but we don't know until there is significant reaserch done and reported we won't know but we need to each take our own bodies signals to determine if other grains or foods are casuing problems for our individual selves.

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 5 years ago

      Gluten is another word for grain protein. So yes, there is 'gluten' in corn. You are both right. Currently, corn is considered safe for a gluten free diet because it is a different form of protein, one not known to be specifically damaging in the majority of individuals with gold standard Celiac Disease.

      However, other grains have not been extensively studies as to their potential to cause damage in susceptible individuals. Corn is a member of the grass family, as are the well known gluten grains.

      As for oats, the protein avenin is very similar to the gluten component that causes damage. Something like 1 in 5 Celiacs cannot tolerate gf oats. Even if they can, it's recommended to use only gf oats and use them minimally. -- Australian authorities recommend that oats be avoided unless there is a good medical reason otherwise.

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 5 years ago from Australia

      Doyouknowwhatglutenis, oats (despite their gluten free status that you mentioned) have been shown on multiple occasions to cause villous atrophy. Corn, sorghum, millet and rice are all grains in the (relatively) same family as wheat, rye and barley. There is more that we don't know than that of what we do.

    • profile image

      Doyouknowwhatglutenis 5 years ago

      This is very misleading. Gluten is a combination of gliadin and glutelin. Gluten is not the other proteins you mention. Maize and oats are most certainly naturally gluten free. When they are processed sometimes alongside wheat products they can become contaminated with gluten, but they never naturally contained gluten! There are plenty of oat and corn products that are fine to eat, if you experience an upset to them it is not because you have coeliac, it is because you have another food intolerance! It is articles like these that scare people into thinking the wrong things about being on a gluten free diet. Get your facts straight or take your article down.

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      Hi Laika L, and thank you for your contribution.

      The entire subject surrounding gluten has been very understudied for many decades (and still is today!). However, according to Dr Osbourne and quite some substantial clinical research, it is evident that all grains contain gluten as you have mentioned above.

      Through my posts, I never have any intention of frightening anyone. However, it is quite evident that (over many years) there has been much controversy as to which foods contain the aspect of gluten that is harmful to coeliacs. For example (some decades ago), Rice Bubble and Corn Flake breakfast cereal varieties containing barley malt were consumed for many years by those with Coeliac Disease and other gluten-related issues. Many individuals did not notice excruciating outward symptoms from this level of malt present.

      Oats (previously thought to be gluten free) have also become a controversial food. It is possible that all grains (including rice) may be of concern for individuals with Coeliac Disease.

      Corn allergies are also becoming very prevalent. As it is the second-most genetically modified food (and the most widely used ingredient in North America), there may very well be a similar issue here to that of pure oats. I know, for an actual fact, that I cannot tolerate pure oats.

      It can also be somewhat related to that of soy allergies. Many individuals who cannot consume soy products have to not only fully avoid soy products, but also take extreme care and sometimes completely exclude a variety of other legumes from their diets.

      Everyone can decide for themselves. For me, I am also on an ever-continuing mission to find 100% grain ('gluten') free foods on the market to further minimise potential risk. As mentioned above, it is a fact that the whole coeliac disease and 'gluten' issue has been *very* understudied and this is why I intend to blog about various issues that do not seem to be attracting the attention these matters need.

    • profile image

      Laika L 7 years ago

      Seriously? You put this on the internet? Of course corn has gluten - but it does not contain wheat gluten. Corn intolerance - something more and more are recognizing as a growing food intolerance - is a separate issue altogether, one which DOES NOT NECESSARILY overlap with coeliac. This kind of bs only serves to scare people.

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      Hi CassidyS, and thanks for stopping by. Interestingly, all grains contain some form of gluten. The 'gluten free' term has been used in a slightly different light to it's actual meaning. Only foods that are truly 'grain free' are realistically GLUTEN FREE ;)

    • CassidyS profile image

      CassidyS 7 years ago from OK

      I have never heard of corn containing gluten but it makes sense. I'll have to monitor my son and see if I notice a reaction. Thanks so much!

    • Amy Backs profile image

      Amy Backs 7 years ago

      I have just posted on my gluten and soy free blog on this topic of corn gluten and how it may affect coeliacs. Check it out:

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the link, Dr. Peter Osborne! Very interesting website, indeed.

    • profile image

      Dr. Peter Osborne 7 years ago

      Here is another link to a study on corn gluten causing damage in patients with celiac disease:

      All the best,

      Dr. Osborne