Corn is a common ingredient in many food products. Although most people, including those who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can consume corn products, others may experience symptoms of intolerance. Symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and abdominal cramping. However, the appearance of undigested corn in the stool is not necessarily an indication of corn intolerance.  The corn kernal covering is undigestible fiber and all humans have those appear in their stool.  The interior of the corn kernal IS digested, however.


If you are not able to consume corn, it is important to recognize which food products contain it. This task is complicated by the fact that labels are sometimes incomplete, or they may use unfamiliar terminology. For example, many products contain food starch or fructose. These substances may or may not be made from corn. If the exact source of a food ingredient is not clearly indicated, it admittedly will be difficult to be certain whether it is corn-derived. The following table will hopefully aid you in determining which foods should be excluded from your diet if you cannot tolerate corn.


Foods Containing Corn or Corn Derivatives

  • Basic corn products: corn meal (corn muffins, tacos, enchiladas, tortillas, corn chips), corn starch, corn oil, margarine, corn sugar, corn syrup, corn sweetener
  • Sugars that may be derived from corn:dextrose, glucose, dexin, dextrin, dextrimaltose, fructose
  • Table salt often contain corn-derived sugar (dextrose)
  • Most factory-processed sweets and sweetened drinks: candies, cakes, cake icings, cookies, pastries, powdered sugar, gelatin desserts, ice cream, ices, syrups, soft drinks
  • Most factory-processed fruit products: canned fruits, canned juices, powdered fruit drinks, jams, jellies
  • Most factory-processed spicy foods: chili, barbecue sauces, salad dressings
  • Other products that often contain corn derivatives: peanut butters, ketchups, chewing gums
  • Many factory-processed meats: ham, bacon, luncheon meats, salami, frankfurters
  • White grain vinegar
  • Many infant formulas
  • Corn alcohol: bourbon; many brands of  beer, Scotch, blended whiskeys
  • Many medications: cough syrups, cough drops, lozenges, pills, tablets, suppositories, baby powders

Substitutes for corn

  • Rice flour, potato flour, tapioca, arrowroot starch, lima bean flour, soy flour and other commonly available flour
  • Sea salt instead of typical table salt

   Revised 8/08



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