Corn Sensitivity Food Guide
⚠️Spoiler alert for today’s post: If you have a corn allergy or sensitivity and need to avoid corn, you have to read the ingredients list on everything you eat. Corn is everywhere!
You can find corn in almost anything, including:
- Foods you wouldn’t expect
- Even your beauty products
Why is corn so hard to avoid?
The hardest thing about finding corn on an ingredients list is that it is not always listed simply as ‘corn’ – corn can be listed under many different names.
We’ve worked with many clients who think they’re avoiding corn but still have allergy or sensitivity symptoms.
- As registered dietitians and food sensitivity experts, we naturally begin with education and reviewing food journals, medications, and supplements, and it usually turns out that the things our “corn-free” clients are consuming do, in fact, contain corn.
- Yes…even our most diligent, well-educated clients with the best intentions still have difficulty avoiding corn without proper guidance and a little hand-holding.
- The good news is that these patients feel much better upon removing the problematic foods, supplements, etc.
- Here’s what’s really important to understand: because corn is found in so many products under a wide variety of names, it is very easy to ingest corn without knowing.
Ingredients and food items that may be derived from corn
The list provided below contains ingredients and food items that may be derived from corn, but the ingredients may also be derived from other sources.
- If you need to avoid corn, and these ingredients are listed in what you are eating, it’s a good idea to call the food or drug manufacturer to ask if the ingredient in question is derived from corn. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but it’s very comprehensive – making it a good place to start.
- If you’ve scanned the ridiculously long list below, you may be wondering WHY corn is EVERYWHERE. The truth is that corn is a super cheap material (largely because it is a genetically modified crop – more on that later), and it’s very versatile so it has a variety of uses.
Blended sugar (sugar dextrose)
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA)
Corn sweetener, corn sugar
Dextrose anything (such as monohydrate or anhydrous)
Fruit juice concentrate
Glucose syrup (also found in IV solutions)
High fructose corn syrup
Malt, malt extract
Modified cellulose gum
Molasses (corn syrup may be present)
Polysorbates (e.g. Polysorbate 80)
Sodium starch glycolate
Starch (any kind not specified)
Tocopherol (vitamin E)
Caramel and caramel color
Citrus cloud emulsion (CCS)
Corn alcohol, corn gluten
Corn oil, corn oil margarine
Corn syrup, corn syrup solids
Hydrolyzed corn protein
Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose phthalate (HPMCP)
Modified corn starch
Mono and di glycerides
Polylactic acid (PLA)
Salt (iodized salt)
Sodium stearoyl fumarate
Sugar (not identified as
cane or beet)
Treacle (aka golden syrup)
Vanilla, natural flavoring
Vegetable anything unspecified
Vitamin C and Vitamin E
Calcium stearoyl lactylate
Coco glycerides cocoglycerides
Corn, popcorn, cornmeal
Dextrose (found in IV solutions)
Distilled white vinegar
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Invert syrup or Invert sugar
Malt syrup from corn (barley malt ok)
Modified food starch
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Propylene glycol monostearate
Semolina (unless from wheat)
Sorghum (syrup /grain can be mixed with corn)
Vanilla, pure or extract
Vinegar, distilled white
Vitamins and supplements
Corn Sensitivity Symptoms
While corn can cause the symptoms below, it’s important to understand that these symptoms aren’t specific to just corn. These are symptoms of adverse food reactions that can occur from any food someone is sensitive to.
- With any food reaction, people respond in different ways. For example, corn could give one person hives, and another person might get a severe migraine from corn.
- As you’re looking at the symptoms below, be open to the fact that corn could be the culprit behind your symptoms, but so could any food, really.
- We love using LEAP MRT to help clients address food and chemical sensitivities. Without an accurate test to guide you, elimination diets are based on educated guessing. Our LEAP MRT Program takes the guesswork out of food sensitivities.
Symptoms of adverse food reactions can include any of the following:
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
- Brain fog
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Sensitivity to sound
- Rashes or hives
- Eczema or psoriasis
- Itchy skin
- Sinus issues
- Canker sores
- Lung congestion
- Red, swollen, watery, or itchy eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Urinary tract issues
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Muscle pain, spasms, or cramps
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Heartburn or reflux
- Stomach or intestinal pains or cramps
- Gas or burping
- Painful elimination
- Fluctuating weight
- Water retention
Tips for following a corn-free diet
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are several ways to make following a corn-free diet easier.
Work with a professional
Meet with one of our registered dietitians (we specialize in food allergies and sensitivities) for additional guidance and support.
- One service our clients with food sensitivities find really helpful is our personalized grocery store tours. Why spend two or three hours perusing grocery store shelves if there is an expert who can guide you along on a tour?
- Also, check out our Clean Living Amazon Store for some of our favorite Amazon food products. They are all very clean with short ingredient lists, so there is less of a chance of “hidden” corn ingredients 😀.
- It may also be worth ruling out other food sensitivities using our LEAP MRT Food Sensitivity Testing Program.
Clean up your diet
Many ingredients derived from corn are found in processed food; removing processed food from your diet will reduce the amount of “hidden” corn you may be consuming.
- Getting rid of processed foods also means less label reading – because whole foods (or foods that come from the earth and are minimally processed) will not contain added ingredients. When trying to consume more whole foods, think of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and high-quality meat and poultry.
- If you’re sensitive to or allergic to corn, it may help to alleviate symptoms if you consume meat from grass-fed cows. Many cows are fed corn, and it’s possible for someone highly sensitive to corn to react to beef from a corn-fed cow.
Check medications and supplements
- NEVER stop taking a prescription medication without your doctor’s permission. If you realize you’re taking a medication that contains corn, you may be able to have it compounded at your local compounding pharmacy. When a medication is compounded, the offending ingredient (in this case, corn) is removed.
- This can be expensive, so be sure to check with the pharmacy on the pricing of the compounded medication to make sure it fits your budget. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe a similar medication that is manufactured corn free.
- Vitamin C is almost ALWAYS derived from corn! So if you have a corn allergy and take a multivitamin or a vitamin C supplement, you could be ingesting corn.
Corn free supplements
- Vitamin C – Acerola/Flavonoid by Pure Encapsulations
- Multivitamin – Basic Preventative 5 by Douglas Labs
- Omega-3 fatty acids – OmegaThera by Klaire Labs
Skincare and beauty products
- Based on our experience working with clients, if corn is in your beauty products and you do NOT have skin issues you’re trying to clear (acne, rosacea etc), it’s probably okay to continue using those products.
- If you have skin problems and corn is in your beauty products, it’s probably worth switching to corn-free beauty products to see if that makes a difference.
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