Corn Allergy

Definition, Symptoms, Treatment

Although under-appreciated - corn contains FOOD TOXINS. One of the worst is a protein called zein. It can cause headaches and sinus pain among other symptoms. Zein is so durable and indigestible that it is used extensively in industry for waterproof coatings of buttons and pills ... and in packaging.

Corn finds its way into thousands of processed foods, supplements and medications. Affected people even react to the maize used as a filler in headache tablets!


Definition of Corn Allergy

Corn allergy is actually a kind of poisoning . . . humans do not have the ability to fully digest the corn protein Zein. It is an enormous protein - like other grain proteins including gluten from wheat, rye and others. Most of us do not have the biological equipment to break down these proteins in the digestive tract. So the semi-broken down molecules end up in the small intestine and disrupt the digestive process. In some cases they actually damage the lining of the gut - a condition known as Leaky Gut.

This in turn allows all kinds of other 'foreign' things into the bloodstream - leading to microscopic damage - and eventually, disease. 


What are the Symptoms of Corn Allergy?

Here are some of the symptoms suffered by people with corn allergy:

  • Headache, migraine
  • Skin rashes
  • Breathing difficulties: sinusitis and sinus headache
  • Aching muscles in the back, neck or legs 
  • Joint inflammation and stiffness
  • Lethargy - extreme lack of energy
  • Sinus pain
  • General feeling of ill health


Corn allergy symptoms overlap with other intolerances

Symptoms are very similar to and overlap with other slow onset allergic responses. So the symptoms are just like those of other food intolerances. Therefore it's quite easy to mistake corn allergy for some other food intolerance. 

Learn more with the Free ebook about Food Toxins


Corn derivatives linked to obesity, depression

Corn used to be a feed crop just for animals. These days due to economic and other pressures it is being used widely in all kinds of food and beverage processing - replacing other traditional ingredients.

Corn starch is used extensively as a thickener in millions of frozen dinners, packaged soups and stocks - and is a staple of baked goods and confectionery.

However ther most noticeable change in recent years has been the burgeoning use of a corn derivative: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as a sweetener in soft drinks and other beverages. Look on any soft drink can or bottle and read the ingredients - very likely you will see HFCS. It is also used routinely in jams, jellies and fruit products. HFCS is also suspected of contributing to our battle with obesity.


Why Are We Consuming So Much Corn?

 > Traditional Cane sugar diverted into biofuels

In bygone days soft drinks, jams and jellies were sweetened with cane sugar. But now cane sugar is being diverted into other more profitable uses such as biofuels. This rising demand for cane sugar has sent the price up for food manufacturers - so they have sought out other sweeteners. When starchy grains are partly broken down - they produce sugars:

  • Glucose from wheat and
  • Fructose (HFCS) from corn are both cheaper than cane sugar

For soft drinks the non-crystalline HFCS became the choice, largely because of its ready abundance and low price. But remember, any non-crystalline syrup sweetener is by definition impure - and yes, HFCS contains the corn protein zein which affects many people adversely. But it also delivers fructose in much larger amounts than fresh fruit. . . and that is a problem.

Research has linked high levels of Fructose consumption with early stage depression. So people (especially teenagers and young adults) who drink many cans of beverage in a week are at risk.


Corn Zein - a very difficult to digest protein

You may know  a little about Gluten - a very large protein found in wheat, barley and other grains. Corn also contains a very large and similar molecule: Zein - a prolamine protein. Zein is a commercially useful protein - and is usually prepared from corn gluten. It has many commercial uses from paper cup linings, to buttons, glue and pill coatings. Therefore zein protein an be difficult to avoid if you have corn allergy.

Corn and all its derivatives can take many different forms in foods and medications - so it's good to have an understanding of how to avoid it. 


How do I avoid corn and its derivatives?

Reading all labels on processed foods and medications is your best protection. But there are traps and pitfalls in relation to 'hidden' corn. Maize and cornstarch and are now used extensively in medications and pharmaceuticals as bulking agents, thickeners and stabilisers. In fact it can be very difficult to avoid corn unless you are quite vigilant about asking questions and chasing up manufacturer's websites to check ingredients.

Many corn derivatives are included in processed foods as additives. You may see: "Dextrose (from maize)" on a food label. Avoid this food if you have corn allergy.

However - don't jump to conclusions about corn allergy. Food toxins act together. Your symptoms could be from a different sensitivity. 

Learn more with the Free ebook about Food Toxins



  • Pasini G et al. IgE-mediated allergy to corn: a 50 kDa protein, belonging to the Reduced Soluble Proteins, is a major allergen. Allergy. 2002 Feb;57(2):98-106
  • Pastorello EA et al. Maize food allergy: lipid-transfer proteins, endochitinases, and alpha-zein precursor are relevant maize allergens in double-blind placebo-controlled maize-challenge-positive patients. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2009 Sep;395(1):93-102.
  • Sung SY et al. A Case of Occupational Rhinitis Induced by Maize Pollen Exposure in a Farmer: Detection of IgE-Binding Components. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2012 Jan;4(1):49-51.



All foodintol® information is based on research from peer-reviewed medical journals