An Intolerant Gut

Let’s talk about something most people don’t want to talk about.
The bathroom.
The ins and outs of digestion and excretion aren’t a subject for public discussion usually. We talk about the subject mostly with euphemisms (if we’re trying to be polite) or overly exaggerated euphemisms (if we’re guys trying to get a laugh). If we’re being serious about the subject, there’s a lot of meaningful pauses and empty spaces, or phrases like “not feeling regular”.
I get it. It’s not a subject I discuss openly either. But maybe it should be.
I’m someone who has struggled with a disturbed gut (not a medical term) for years. When I was about 16, I started having big problems that grew and just never went away. If you’re interested in knowing the types of problems without me going into great detail, let’s just say you have two extremes when it comes to bathroom problems, and I swung back and forth between them like a pendulum. I rarely could identify any type of a cause, and I wasn’t the type to dig into an issue, so I just accepted that was the way my body was working and let it go at that.
My wife, however, isn’t so keen to let something go, so when she finally found out about these issues that I was so delicately trying to keep from her (out of love and mercy, mostly), she started prying, and searching for the cause. Good thing, too, because she managed to succeed at finding some relief that I never could.
See, it turns out my body can’t process corn, in any of it’s forms. Or, I guess I don’t know that it’s a matter of not being able to process it, but it hates it. Corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal…doesn’t really matter, though the sugars are definitely the worst culprits.
I suspect this issue is more common than many people would guess, especially with the rising numbers of sufferers from issues like Crohn’s and Celiac’s, which have similar symptoms from a different grain (or often from many grains), but corn isn’t getting the same type of attention, probably because it’s ridiculously hard to identify in most of it’s forms. In order to eliminate corn from your diet, you have to look out for at least these items (and a laundry list of hundreds of others, potentially):

  1. Corn syrup
  2. Corn starch
  3. Corn flour
  4. Cornmeal
  5. Modified food starch
  6. Cellulose
  7. Dextrose
  8. Maltodextrin
  9. Caramel color
  10. Citric acid
  11. Smoke flavoring
  12. Vegetable oil
  13. Glucose
  14. Fructose

Incidentally, that means that while you obviously know to avoid Coca-Cola and Krispy Kreme (or would you?), you also have to watch out for table salt (iodized salt has dextrose, which is a process form of sugar usually derived from corn), baking powder (which usually has cornstarch in it), and many forms of alcohol.  At least I can still have most of the good beers, so maybe it’s been a good thing there.

Even without corn in my diet to the greatest degree we can manage, I’m not exactly sailing through my bathroom visits with all of the pleasantries most people enjoy, but it’s much better, and I no longer feel ill after having a slurpee, mostly because I don’t have them anymore (ever, that stuff is nasty).

I mostly started writing this just to bring some awareness to the issue, and to the fact that we mostly ignore these types of discussions, but it’s worth noting as well that I have been having some success more recently with enzymes from Young Living, and I’m going to be experimenting more with other gut-healthy things as I can (kombucha is good, but start slow, please!), so I can maybe even provide some updates.

If you know anyone experiencing issues like this who hasn’t found a cause, though, suggest they look into going to all fresh foods for a while, without corn or really most other grains, and keep an eye out for these types of nasty little surprises.  It was amazing how long it took us to discover some of these sources of the one thing my body hates above all others.

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