This may seem obvious to some, but lately I’ve had a few comments on social media posts that have prompted me to explain this.
Let me answer a few questions that I’ve been asked.
Remind Me, What is Gluten?
The Gluten that makes people with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance sick is the common name for the protein in wheat, rye and barley. It’s actually made up of two proteins, Glutenin and different types of Prolamins. It’s the specific Prolamins in wheat, rye and barley that cause the problems. They cause the immune system of someone with Celiac Disease to attack the small intestine. The Prolamin in wheat is called Gliadin, in rye it’s called Secalin and in barley it’s called Hordein. (1)
So, What is Corn Gluten?
Corn Gluten is an unfortunately confusing nickname given to the proteins in corn. It’s made up of four proteins, Albumins, Globulins, Glutelins and Prolamins. The Prolamin in corn is called Zein. The Prolamin in corn does not affect those with Celiac Disease in the same way as those of wheat, rye and barley. (2)
Oh, okay, so I can eat corn then. Whew!
Well, actually, yes, probably. Corn is gluten free, and if your only problem is with gluten you’re A-OK. Unfortunately some people with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance also react to other grains, even those that are gluten free. For some, eating corn (and rice and other gluten free grains) can cause GI distress and other symptoms usually associated with wheat gluten. If you’re feeling great now that you’ve given up gluten and tolerate corn, great! However, if you find you’re still sick even though you’ve given up gluten, you may need to make further changes to your diet, and you may want to try giving up corn.
(1) Gluten Free Around the World – What is Gluten?
(2) Corn Biochemistry: Factors Related to Starch Digestibility in Ruminants, P.C. Hoffman and R.D. Shaver Dept. of Dairy Science University of Wisconsin-Madison
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