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Cutting Corn: Beyond Your Diet

Updated on October 5, 2011

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Learning how to cut corn out of your diet can be a lifetime's work. But if you've been diagnosed with a corn allergy, simply removing all corn derivatives from your diet isn't enough. (Yes, I know, the word 'simple' doesn't apply to removing corn derivatives from your diet. But you get the idea.) There's more work ahead, and it gets even more complicated.

You've cleared out your cupboards. You've learned all the code words, the various names and labels that denote the source ingredient was 'corn'. You've removed all sources of corn from your diet. Now, it's time to put them to use in the rest of the house.

Start with things that you really do put in your mouth. Toothpaste, for instance. Have you ever considered that the paste you spit out every night also gets ingested? Neither did I. Not really, anyway. But it does. And it can have an impact on your health if you're allergic or even just intolerant of one of the ingredients. Watch out for xanthan gum, xylitol and flavorings. All natural toothpastes tend to be a little less likely to have any corn derivatives in them.

Medication is one of the trickiest aspects of a corn allergy. There may not be any visible corn in those tiny little pills, but one of the most common excipients (ingredients used to stick it together) is corn derived dextrose. Although there are a few corn-free ready-made medications, many corn avoiders find that they need to have their doctors write a prescription for compounded medecine, even if the medication they need is available over the counter. This is pretty frustrating when you have a headache to begin with.

Personal care products should also be evaluated for their corn free status. Dishwasher soap doesn't always wash completely away, nor does handsoap. Shampoo residue will get in your mouth along with those lovely little wisps of hair you're always brushing from your face. Lipstick gets ingested in the obvious ways. Avoiding corn in your personal care regimen is even more important if you're contact sensitive.

Cleaning supplies tend to trip up a lot of individuals new to corn allergy. They're already something considered 'toxic', so why even worry about the corn in them? The answer lies in the fact that most cleaners are sprayed into the air. The droplets are airborne before they hit the area to be cleaned, and not every droplet hits the counter, floor or sink. Some land on you, the cleaner. Some get inhaled. What gets inhaled is also somewhat ingested. Not necessarily in toxic quantities, just enough to cause a problem if you're sensitive to it. The good news is that corn free cleaning tends to be pretty environmentally friendly. Companies like 7th generation and Charlie's Soap seem to minimize their ingredient list as well as their environmental footprint. They actually list ingredients, and will answer questions.

Don't forget laundry items! Even people with limited contact-sensitivity to corn derivatives seem to react to dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Luckily those little plastic dryer balls work pretty well against static cling.

Paper towels and bathroom tissue should be scrutinized as well. Facial tissues are obviously an issue, if they're powdered the powder gets in your mouth and nose. Scotties and Kirkland (Costco brand) have been my go-to source, but do your own research.

As you immerse yourself deeper in the realm of avoiding corn, and perhaps begin that next new renovation you've been delaying, check the fiber content. Of anything. Some furniture is now made from corn. There is a corn-derived carpet on the market, and even bedding made from corn fibers. Clothing, too can be corn derived. Whether or not these products are an issue for someone with a corn allergy is still unknown, but it's better to know what sorts of chances you're taking.

And while you're busy with that home improvement project, wear a mask. There's often cornstarch in drywall plaster and particleboard. Once it's assembled and the dust has settled, it shouldn't be an issue, but airborne dust gets everywhere, including your tongue.

There you have it. Corn is virtually everywhere. But with a little savvy, you can avoid the worst of it. With a little extra perseverance, you can even avoid all of it. Mostly all of it. And that's something to write home about.

Just don't lick the envelopes. There's corn in there.


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