Think of all the awful four-letter words you know. There are quite a few. Did the word corn come to mind? Probably not. But for me, it is the worst four-letter word there is. This is because I have an allergy to corn, and corn is in everything. Corn is in makeup, lotions, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioners. It is in condiments disguised as distilled vinegar and in tomato sauce under the label “citric acid”. It is lurking in all my running supplements like nuun (electrolyte tablets), tailwind and Springer energy Gu’s. Like I said, it is in everything.
It so happens that the month of May is known as “Food Allergy Action Month.” Taking action can’t happen until there is awareness and I want to take this opportunity to bring awareness to corn allergy. Walk up and down the aisles at the grocery store and you are bound to see the label “GF” which stands for gluten free. My hope one day is you will also see “cf” or corn free. Unfortunately, that label doesn’t exist right now, so I must trust the ingredients on the package but guess what? Often the packaging has corn in it. I know I need to follow my own advice and not even buy food with labels and packaging. That is great advice, but even the fruit on the grocery shelves has been sprayed with a chemical to keep it fresh looking and guess what is in that spray? Yep, corn!
Why Is corn everywhere? According to the website Iowa Corn, “The corn kernel is made up of four major components- starch, fiber, protein and oil- that can be processed in different ways to be used in all kinds of products. In fact, a typical grocery store contains 4,000 items that list corn ingredients on the label.” Other products that contain corn are paper goods and cardboard packaging. Corn is even in the feed that animals eat therefore can be found in eggs, milk, and meat.
According to Scientific America, corn is a productive and versatile crop so as a nation we grow a lot of it. It has high yields compared with most other US crops and it grows nearly anywhere in the country, especially thriving in the Midwest and Great Plains. What I find interesting is that most of the corn grown doesn’t go to feed people but to feed animals and for fuel.
Unfortunately, in my body, an allergy has developed. My immune system mistakes corn or corn product for something that is harmful and in response, it releases antibodies called immunoglobulin E (Ige) to try to neutralize the allergen. As you can imagine, this doesn’t leave me much to eat. I love eggs, chicken and turkey but have given up meat due to the stomach pain and digestive issues it has been causing. I eat eggs on the weekends now and during the week my breakfast is oatmeal with peanut butter, hemp seeds, brazil nuts and blueberries or strawberries. My lunch consists of a salad with lentils, goat cheese and almonds or walnuts and dinner is mainly vegetables, beans, and whole grains. I am eating Salmon and other seafood 1x a week as my Thyroid doctor believes seafood interrupts my thyroid medicine. I often get asked how I discovered this allergy. I was referred to Charleston Thyroid Center in Mt. Pleasant by my awesome gynocologist Dr. Erica Downey. I have Hoshimotos which is an autoimmune disease. I have chronic inflammation which has caused my immune system to go haywire and my immune system has decided to attack my thyroid. To get to the root of my inflammation, I took a blood test. The results gave me a list of foods causing inflammation in my body. These foods are spinach, pumpkin, onions, broccoli, corn and dairy (I feel like I am missing one).
This has been hard, and I catch myself complaining and feeling sorry for myself. I mainly feel terrible for Lee as eating out is difficult for me and I imagine people do not like to have us over for dinner due to my allergies. But I know grumbling is not good and there are many people in far worse condition than I am. But just know, ff you see me not eating at your party, do not get offended or upset. It is because most of what you are serving has corn lurking in it (or onions). Be ok if I ask questions about the restaurant you have invited us to and the thousands of requests I will have for the waiter. Please, don’t judge me as I am not doing this on purpose. When my body reacts to corn it doesn’t feel good. Often, it can be a headache and overall body achiness. Sometimes it shows up as severe stomach pain. I just never know.
Allergies are real and can manifest at any age. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, as of 2021, about 20 million people have food allergies in the U.S. Perhaps, you have one. Allergies can show up as skin issues like hives or rashes, digestive issues, headaches, swollen airways, diarrhea, nausea, gas, muscle and joint aches, and or vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, I encourage you to go through the elimination diet. If you have an autoimmune disease, I highly recommend the blood test I took- Elisa test. Reach out if you have any questions. Sign up for a health consult, as I can guide you through the elimination diet which I have done for many clients with success. Excessive gas, bloat, aches and hives are not normal, so do not ignore these symptoms.