Corn and gluten allergies are hard to manage. Are you recently diagnosed? This corn and gluten allergies getting started guide will help you take the guesswork out of managing your gluten and corn free diet. People with both corn and gluten allergies have a daunting task. Management of corn and gluten allergies is difficult to do on your own. To get a successful start on your gluten and corn free diet you need to rely on other allergy sufferers like yourself, good research, and some basic food allergy knowledge. I’ve put together these basic shopping tips for people with gluten and corn allergies. You can learn how to manage a gluten and corn free diet through Healthy Family’s other resources, too. So take advantage of them!
Recently diagnosed with both corn and gluten allergies?
Those with corn and gluten allergies should understand that although both wheat and corn contain gluten, they are not the same kind of gluten. Most people diagnosed with wheat gluten intolerance or celiac disease are told that they can safely eat corn gluten.
Research shows that corn gluten is safe for the celiac community and doesn’t contribute to intestinal damage. But recent studies have also shown that there is a percentage of people in the celiac community that have both corn and gluten allergies.
It is possible that all parts of the corn and not just the corn gluten is affecting you and causing your symptoms. Having both corn and gluten allergies can be difficult. To add to the confusion, there are various opinions among corn allergy sufferers and manufacturers about what it means to be corn free. In order to safely and successfully manage a gluten and corn free diet, allergy sufferers need to understand this completely. This will effect your level of success managing corn and gluten allergies on your new diet.
New to food allergies? Gluten is the term we use to describe the mixture of proteins, including gliadins, that are found in wheat grains, barley, and rye. Gluten, quite simply, means ‘glue’. And the term is appropriate because it is that glue-like quality found in these grains that make them ideal ingredients in our baked and prepackaged goods. The sticky quality of gluten has given it value in non-edible markets such as the production of paper and fabric glue. It is also used as cattle feed and as an initial ingredient in the manufacturing process of monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Most of us have a remote understanding of celiac disease. It’s an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that causes damage to the intestinal villi. Villi damage triggers a whole host of health problems, nutritional deficiencies, and possible colon cancer if left untreated.
According to Dr. Rodney Ford, a pediatric gastroenterologist from Christchurch, New Zealand, 1 in 10 people suffer from gluten sensitivity, or the gluten syndrome.
If you are managing corn and gluten allergies, it is important to understand that corn does not contain the same kind of gluten proteins as wheat. In fact, for most people in the celiac community it is assumed that corn is perfectly safe to eat. Some manufacturers will say that corn allergy sufferers can eat foods that have corn sugar in them because the corn gluten has been removed. Corn allergy sufferers generally have histamine or digestive responses when they ingest corn and its many byproducts. Some individuals will have headaches, body aches, and overall tiredness. MWeb Health provides a nice informative article on corn allergies. So, in short, if you are allergic to corn you are undoubtedly allergic to all of it. Period.
Perhaps you are already gluten-free, or you have been and it did not alleviate your symptoms. Do you think you have corn and gluten allergies? Here’s what to do:
Ten Shopping Tips for Corn and Gluten Allergies:
1. Don’t change to a corn and gluten free diet until you get proper testing done.
- This is important to rule out unnecessary changes in your diet and to help speed your progress in the long run. Get a good celiac/ gluten sensitivity blood test and proper diagnosis before going corn and gluten free because your intolerance levels diminish the longer you are gluten-free. This is especially important to rule out celiac disease. Damaged intestinal villi begin to heal once a gluten-free diet is initiated and antibody levels begin to drop.The best blood test for gluten sensitivity is the IgG-gliadin antibody test. The best celiac test is the tissue transglutaminase antibody test (tTG). If you have already gone gluten-free or gluten-reduced then another good test to consider is the Gluten Sensitivity Stool Test by EnteroLabs. In addition to the celiac screen and gluten intolerance test, you need to request a white blood cell test to measure corn allergies/delayed food intolerance. A simple skin prick test will not adequately measure a delayed intolerance. Jenny Connors does a nice job of explaining this at cornallergens.com.
2. It is important that you go on a completely gluten and corn free diet.
- This is especially true if you are looking to treat a chronic condition caused by corn and gluten allergies. A corn and gluten reduced diet will still produce antibodies and cause unwanted symptoms. Going gluten and corn free means learning how to read food labels and find hidden sources of gluten and corn in products. Celiac.com has posted a thorough list of gluten ingredients that are unsafe and Jenny Connors has one too for corn at cornallergens.com. Another good corn allergy resource is Corn Free Foods and Products List. Always double check all supplements and medications thoroughly. Be sure to alert medical staff when you are hospitalized. Nearly all IVs are corn-based solutions, but Lactated Ringer’s is not.
3. Get educated. Read, Read, Read, as much as you can before getting started.
- There are many books, articles, websites available for information, recipes, support, product information, and help with a proper diagnosis. Living Without is a great starting point for managing corn and gluten allergies. Culinate.com also has a great article on the depths many corn allergic people must go to achieve wellness. Many fresh fruits are polished with corn-based products, many frozen veggies are dusted with corn starch to keep them from clumping, many fresh salad mixes also have corn derivatives. When you are in doubt try to contact the manufacturer to see if the item is safe for corn and gluten allergies. Corn does not need to be labeled as a product ingredient if it is used to enhance packaging.
4. Look for a corn and gluten free forum to join for more personal support.
- Food Allergy Survivors Together, or FAST, Kids With Food Allergies, Celiac.com, Avoiding Corn, Food Allergy Kitchen, Allergic Living. You will hopefully meet other people who have been on a gluten and corn free diet for a while and can offer you good advice, product ideas, and recipes for living with corn and gluten allergies.
5. Invest in good kitchen equipment.
- Good kitchen equipment will make your transition to a gluten and corn free diet an easier one: a food slicer, bread maker, multiple crockpots, storage containers, a juicer. This equipment is vital to a person with corn and gluten allergies because most foods need to be made from scratch using whole ingredients.
6. Thoroughly clean your kitchen cabinets inside and out.
- A safe kitchen is vital for success on a gluten and corn free diet. Remove any and all products that contain hidden gluten and corn. Donate them to friends, family, or charity. In our case we turned our kitchen into a gluten and corn free one for all family members. This is really a matter of choice. Some families cook separately and keep gluten and corn items separately in the house. Cross contamination is possible, so gluten and corn free foods need to be cooked in a clean fresh pot and with a separate spoon. Inhalation will also cause a reaction, so avoid situations where the sufferer might be exposed to wheat flour, baby powder, etc….
7. Expect to spend a lot of money initially when you begin to restock your kitchen.
- (Ketchups, salad dressings, sauces, gravies, etc….) I found that it was best to ease into food preparation. I initially chose to buy as many prepackaged products as I could find. In many cases I was unknowingly buying gluten-free products with hidden corn ingredients. As you grow in confidence and kitchen savvy this will change. Just don’t give up prematurely.
8. Purchase good food storage containers, to take with you when you leave the house.
- Be sure to stock it well with fresh fruit, drinks, and non-perishable snacks. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are starving and there is no place for you to go where you can purchase something safe for you or your loved one to eat. Remember, this is not a weight loss diet, infractions do matter and total elimination of gluten and corn is the only way to achieve good health in the long-term.
9. Don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen.
- Get into the habit of writing down everything you do as manage your corn and gluten free diet. You never know when you might stumble on a great recipe, or how exactly you may need to tweak it the next time you prepare the same dish. Good gluten and corn allergy cooking involves being able to adequately substitute safe ingredients into your favorite dish without compromising taste. It can be done! You just have to be willing to suffer through a few fumbles first, or if you aren’t so daring, look for recipes from books and forums.
10. Whenever you must eat out be sure to plan in advance.
- Always call or visit the restaurant/ banquet hall in advance. Bring a printout of all the hidden ingredients you must avoid. Some restaurants are quite familiar with celiac disease and understand that cross contamination is an issue. But remember, gluten free dishes are not corn free. We tend to bring separate food for our son with corn and gluten allergies. This often works great. Your local restaurant would gladly your cook gluten and corn free noodles in a fresh pot with clean water for you. All you have to do is phone ahead and ask. Outback Steak House caters to celiac customers and as long as you avoid sauces can also work for corn allergy sufferers as well. We make a habit of bringing all our own condiments with us when we eat out.
NOTE: Visit our safe products page for a list of commercial corn and gluten free products we have discovered. Also check out our recipe pages for menu planning ideas. You may also want to learn about safe cosmetics: Gluten and Corn-free Cosmetics and Personal Care Products.
Hopefully this getting started guide will help you manage your corn and gluten allergies successfully. If you use these resources to get yourself organized on your gluten and corn free diet you will hopefully see some beneficial health improvements within a matter of months.