Caring for the Soul

February 26, 2021

Children and the Corn: Possible Hidden Cause of Disruptive Behavior

By Kathryn Donev, M.S., LPC/MHSP, NCC

Recently in conversation with a friend, she shared of her child’s corn allergy.  Listening further, the behavioral issues described intrigued me to do further research on the topic.  Could it truly be corn that causes children to exhibit defiant and unruly behavior?  “Eat your vegetables!” Or not? 

Well firstly, the body actually cannot digest corn fully. Humans have no way to break down the insoluble fiber of the cellulose molecules in corn. But this is not to say that corn in its whole natural state is all bad. Its high fiber content can aid in digestion. It also contains B vitamins and provides our bodies with essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. And corn just tastes so good.  It tastes good, because it’s sweet.

We avoid giving our children excess sugar because we know it’s effects on behavior, but we don’t even think to consider the sneaky vegetable/grain/fruit, “corn” and its sweet derivatives.  I was shocked to learned that there are nearly 200 corn derivatives in foods today (see photo for some). And recent studies have found that corn can indeed cause disruptive behavior.  A 2009 study conducted at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy identified detectable levels of mercury in nine out of 20 samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup. These findings were also confirmed by former food investigator for the FDA, Dr. Renee Dufault and published in 2017.  Mercury is toxic in all forms and may also cause damage to the brain and nervous system, which in turn effects behavior.  Mercury also can suppress genes involved in developmental problems such as autism and ADHD.

So why is corn allergy not a well-known concern? One reason is a lack of recognition of the severity of the problem. The FDA only requires the first eight major food allergens to be labeled on food products and they do not require corn derivatives to be listed along with other ingredients. So a can of peaches that typically will contain high fructose corn syrup could also contain a manufactured form of citric acid, which is commonly derived from a starch-based media of corn. Another reason why corn allergy is not well-known is because symptoms are unique and each person suffers differently making it extremely difficult for parents to pinpoint the cause of behavioral issues. 

All of this is not to say that corn should be avoided at all cost unless advised to do so.  I was raised on fresh corn straight from my grandparent’s garden.  But, unfortunately corn is no longer what we remember.  Hopefully this article will raise awareness about what we are feeding our children.  Perhaps, we could begin to monitor more closely our child’s eating habits and associated behaviors to determine if there is a connection between corn consumption and unruly behaviors.  And then, adjust diets accordingly.  Instead of seeking out medications, we could return to unprocessed, unmanufactured, non-GMO, natural foods and hopefully we will witness natural states of being. 

Uncategorized @ 1:15 am
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