Did you know that scientists can determine what you eat by testing a strand of your hair? It’s true. Food leaves a fingerprint in your hair. When we look at these prints, it turns out that most of us are made of corn! How is this possible? And, is this a bad thing?
How much corn do we eat? Every man, woman, and child in the United States eats more than four pounds of corn each day, according to the USDA. We don’t realize how much corn we eat because it’s hidden in our food supply. Corn can be found in some unlikely places including peanut butter, orange juice, frozen fruit, baking powder, and even toothpaste.
Is Corn Harmful? Corn is a grain that provides nutritive value. However, at the level we consume, corn could be harmful. For example, corn is high in omega-6 fat and low in omega-3 fat. This means that eating too much corn can leave your body in a state of inflammation. And, inflammation contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, autism, and even allergies. Alarmingly, most of us consume 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fat than omega-3 fat. Eating large amounts of corn feeds into this dietary imbalance and disease formation.
Additionally, some scientists argue that our bodies are not equipped to deal with the large amount of corn we consume. Corn was not a large part of our evolutionary diet. And, look at what it’s doing to other animals. Did you know that cows fed a grain-based diet get sick and can die after only a few months? In fact, they have to be trained to eat corn by slowly changing their diet while being treated with antibiotics. Likewise, horses founder if they eat too much grain. Corn makes an animal get fat so quickly that cows can now be slaughtered when they are only 14-16 months old. Less than 100 years ago they were 4 -5 years old at slaughter.
If too much corn can harm other animals, what makes you think we can handle it without any health consequences?
Why do we eat so much corn?
It’s cheap. The government uses our taxpayer dollars to pay farmers to grow corn. This cheap corn came at a price tag of $3.5 billion in 2010. In fact, we subsidize every piece of industrial corn grown in the U.S. The result: corn is the most abundant grain produced in the U.S.
Someone has to eat all of this corn. So, we feed the corn to our livestock instead of feeding them their native diet. Specifically, we feed 40% of all the corn made in the U.S. to livestock. The result is meat that is rich in corn, and we eat this corn-enriched meat. Farm-raised fish and eggs suffer from the same problem. Did you know that farm-raised salmon are being bred to tolerate corn? It means that when we eat these animals or farm-raised fish we consume even more omega-6 fat, which tips the scale towards the formation of chronic disease.
But, large amounts of corn are not just being fed to livestock and fish. We also eat it in the form of by-products, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS has replaced sugar in foods because it is cheaper to make. Corn by-products are in a vast array of processed foods including crackers, cereals, baked goods, sodas, and juices. It’s also found in low-calorie sweeteners including: erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.
We have created a corn-based food system built upon government selection and cost.
Is high fructose corn syrup bad? It’s debated. Both table sugar (sucrose) and HFCS contain glucose and fructose. But some argue that HFCS is bad for us because it is highly processed, may contain mercury (a neurotoxin), and may contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions.
Should I avoid all corn? No. Fresh, organic corn on the cob is a nutritious grain. However, I avoid all corn by-products whenever possible because of their abundance in our food supply and possible negative health impact. Avoiding corn by-products is more difficult than you might think because corn can be listed directly on the food label or it can be an additive. For example, artificial sweeteners, baking powder, and iodized salt can all contain corn. This makes avoiding all corn by-products impossible. If you want to reduce your intake, read your food labels. The obvious culprits are: corn syrup, HFCS, corn starch, corn flour, cornmeal, corn oil, glucose (dextrose), and crystalline fructose.
Bottom line: At the level we consume corn and corn by-products, it’s a silent killer. Be aware of how much corn by-product you eat and consume less whenever possible.