Why is corn hard to digest?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “why is corn hard to digest,” and discuss what happens when you eat corn, and how do you make corn more digestible.

Why is corn hard to digest?

Corn is hard to digest because of its viviparous, or seed-like, composition. Corn is a complex carbohydrate, with each kernel containing a distinct outer covering and inner starchy substance. 

The outer covering of the corn, called the pericarp, aids in keeping the inner portion safe from outside harms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The inner portion contains a large amount of starch, which is known as the endosperm.

The outer layer of corn contains primarily cellulose and lignin, which are both very hard to digest for humans. Cellulose is an indigestible fiber that makes up most of the cell walls of plants. 

Lignin is a polymer that gives strength to many plants and is one of the most abundant organic materials on Earth. Corn also contains another indigestible fiber called hemicellulose which adds to the difficulty in digesting it.

When humans eat corn, our bodies are able to digest only a small fraction of its total carbohydrates.

While some animals are able to compost this material easily due to their unique digestive systems and enzymes, humans have a much harder time breaking down these substances into usable energy sources through digestion. As such, corn can cause digestive distress or bloating if consumed.

What happens when you eat corn?

If you have ever wondered what happens when you eat corn, the answer is: that it gets harder for your body to digest. Corn, like all other plants, has a high cellulose content. Cellulose is a polymer that makes up most of the cell walls in plants:

  1. Humans are not capable of breaking bonds in cellulose
  1. The result is that corn passes through the digestive tract without being broken down much at all, which can lead to constipation and bloating. In the intestines, bacteria ferment the undigested corn, which can cause gas and abdominal discomfort. It’s worth noting that some cultures do produce enzymes that do break down cellulose
  1. Studies show that people who are able to break down cellulose tend to experience less indigestion after eating corn than those who cannot.

How do you make corn more digestible?

To make corn more digestible, you have to cook, boil, or ferment it.

The reason why corn is hard to digest is that raw corn has a tough outer hull that contains cellulose, which humans can’t break down.

Cooking the corn before eating it softens this hull, making the corn easier for your digestive system to handle.

The easiest way to make corn more digestible is to simply boil it. Boiling breaks down the cellulose in corn, making it easier for your body to break down and digest. This is how many traditional cultures prepare corn!

If you’re looking for a more hands-off approach, though, you can also consider fermenting corn. Fermentation breaks down cellulose and increases the nutritional value of corn as well!

As always, be sure to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.

Does eating corn cause gut inflammation?

There has been debate in the scientific community of late about whether eating corn causes gastrointestinal inflammation. This debate is centered on the fact that corn contains a particular type of carbohydrate called amylopectin A, which is also found in many other foods.

It is believed that the unique structure of amylopectin A makes it more likely to cause gut inflammation because of its slow digestion and fermentation in the intestines.

Corn, however, contains many beneficial nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as lutein and zeaxanthin (which are good for eye health), thiamine (a B vitamin), and folate (also a B vitamin), phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to better heart health and a lower risk of certain cancers. Furthermore, corn has been found to be rich in prebiotic fiber, which encourages the growth of gut bacteria associated with better health.

In conclusion, eating corn is not likely to result in gut inflammation; however, if you experience increased gas or bloating after eating corn, or any food, you should consult your physician.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “why is corn hard to digest,” and other questions related to the subject, such as what happens when you eat corn, and how do you make corn more digestible.

Citations

https://www.livescience.com/why-humans-cannot-digest-corn.html

https://www.healthdigest.com/434795/the-real-reason-your-body-doesnt-digest-corn/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324199#:~:text=The%20body%20cannot%20digest%20 corn,access%20more%20of%20the%20nutrients.

https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/why-is-sweet-corn-not-digested/

https://www.healthline.com/health/undigested-food-in-stool

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.