What is Xanthan Gum?

Girl Meets Nourishment recently tackled the popular ingredient and guess what she discovered?  It’s made from corn.  Imagine that.

I know you guys know this.  Most of the individuals subscribed to the blog react to Xanthan Gum…even though we’ve been told multiple times, by multiple companies: “no corn proteins” remains in the final product.  Our bodies obviously didn’t get the memo on the “protein” allergy food rule.

Check out the article.

Check out my previous article about Xanthan Gum.

A Bump in the Road…

The bump was expected and anticipated, though I tried not to stress about the inevitable.  The bump was corn, hidden corn.  The new doctor doesn’t get corn, most doctors don’t understand corn, most of my family and friends don’t understand corn.  They do not understand how it is used in the processing and manufacturing of almost everything.  They do not understand how the aforementioned usage of corn contaminates “safe products for sensitive people.”  They do not understand how we can react to the tiny traces remaining in/on products.

The new doctor wants to pull the HCL that I’ve been using to help with my digestion.  She wants me to take a digestive enzyme.  I know you all know the pitfalls of digestive enzymes, but the new doctor has no idea.  I turned down many of her recommendations because of the “other ingredients” listed for the “safe for sensitive people” products.

I decided to try the digestive enzymes (even though it is industry standard to use maltodextrin, i.e. corn, during the drying process) because they were cheap, there were no other filler ingredients and I knew, though we would react to it, that the amount of corn was small.  I wanted the doctor to be able to see our sensitivity level, so that I would never have to prove it to her again; get the disbelief out-of-the-way with the least amount of pain for Yipi and for me.

And it is disbelief.  Doctors aren’t taught much about corn allergy/intolerance and the fact that corn allergy/intolerance doesn’t seem to follow the same pattern as other allergens just makes it more unbelievable.  I honestly think doctors are told that corn can’t be an allergen...but that could be paranoia.  I sincerely hope it is only paranoia on my part.  See this article written by the Allergy Associates of Lacrosse titled “Allergic to Corn – Living Without.”

Although corn products are widely consumed, there is a general lack of understanding when it comes to corn’s role as a
food allergy or sensitivity. One reason is that corn is not one of the so-called Big Eight allergens (peanuts, tree nuts,
wheat, milk, egg, shellfish, fish, soy) that together cause 90 percent of America’s food allergy reactions. It doesn’t fall
under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, which means that manufacturers aren’t
required to list it as an ingredient by its common name, highlight it on product labels or name it as a possible source of
cross-contamination in a product.


“I sympathize with people who have corn allergy because corn is very hard to avoid,” says Mary S. Morris, MD, of Allergy
Associates of La Crosse in La Crosse, Wisconsin. “A lot of times, people don’t connect their symptoms to the corn
sweetener in their ice cream.”

Adding to the confusion is the fact that symptoms of corn allergy can differ from those of more common food allergies.
While corn can prompt anaphylaxis, including breathing difficulty, hives, swelling and even death in severely cornallergic
patients, more often it causes headaches, fatigue and irritability.

“I’m surprised at how frequently corn will trigger a bad headache, even in children,” Morris says.

Another factor contributing to questions about corn allergy is that people can have varied reactions to different forms of
corn, Morris explains. For example, some people have more of a problem with corn sweetener than they do with corn on
the cob or cornstarch. And corn pollen or corn dust that’s inhaled during harvest can trigger a reaction in some people
who often can consume corn without a problem, she says.

All this makes corn allergy difficult to diagnose, Morris notes. Corn might show up in a typical skin or blood test that
checks for IgE (the allergic antibody) levels—but not always. IgE allergy tests didn’t detect Clare Donlan’s corn allergy.

“Sometimes corn is IgE-mediated but sometimes the only way to figure it out is to do a corn challenge test under
medical supervision in a doctor’s office,” Morris says, adding that she conducts oral challenges when she can’t tell for
sure if a suspected food is causing a reaction.

Morris’ practice routinely screens for corn allergy through a blood test and, while corn is a less common allergen than
the Big Eight, it is common enough that she says she sees patients with corn allergy every week.

Not all doctors would consider corn allergy as potential cause of a patient’s headaches or behavior issues. In fact, some
question whether the grain is even a true allergen. For example, Morris recalls informing a surgeon that her patient,
hospitalized under the surgeon’s care, had a corn allergy. The surgeon said the allergy wasn’t possible and ignored
Morris’ request not to administer dextrose (usually corn-based) to the patient. It took the patient’s allergic reaction to
corn during surgery to convince the physician that the allergy did exist.

“Because it’s not on the top-eight radar, it’s not the first place people go to look for the root cause of their symptoms.
Even though corn is the source of many severe problems for people, it is many times overlooked,” she says.


Read more:  Allergic to Corn – Living Without

I hope you followed the link, read the article and saved it to your computer.

I opened one capsule into a container.  We then proceeded to introduce the digestive enzyme onto our skin for a few days and then moved to ingestion after no noticeable reaction on the skin.  Within a few days of ingestion, the reactions became apparent.  We consumed about 1/1000th of the initial capsule we opened.  ….ok….you got me…I don’t know exactly how much of the capsule we consumed but it was a microscopic amount.  I emailed the company and simply asked them to check with the manufacturer to see if any maltodextrin was used during the drying process of the digestive enzyme.  Later that day (May 14th) I received the confirmation email that maltodextrin is used, but only a small amount.  That small amount is enough for Yipi and me to react.

Since beginning the GAPS diet, I have had less brain-fogged/limited cognitive ability days.  I am able to think clearer, I have more energy (my house is clean!!!!) and I am able to actually put my thoughts into coherent sentences.  I am able to remember how I felt before a reaction and to log that state of being as well as the shift that occurs when I’m reacting and the aftermath.  I’ve also noticed, and I’ve mentioned this before, that our reactions are not as severe and do not last as long since beginning the GAPS diet.  Thank you, GAPS.

With that being said, I’m going to copy and paste my notes from my food/reaction/GAPS journal for when we introduced the digestive enzyme, during the administration of digestive enzyme, and the aftermath.  We stopped the enzymes two days ago and the swelling and severe itching/hives/awful rash are already subsiding.

Notes from Journal:

5/7/2013  –  Erica started 3 RNAs and Digestive Enzyme on skin
5/8/2013  –  Yipi bad chemical reaction, behavior just awful all day, she couldn’t control herself.  Difficulty communicating.  The reaction was from the new unfinished poplar bed, she was in too close of proximity to it in a sealed room.  Not a good combination.  Gave her three baths today.  Will do three baths tomorrow.  (Bed has been airing out for over 6 months)
5/9/2013 – Erica began consuming one drop of RNAs and a tiny amount (less than 7mg) of digestive enzyme.
5/10/2013  –  Put one drop of RNAs on Yipi’s legs in the morning.  Erica took her morning dose of RNAs and Digestive Enzyme.  Erica noticed a little wax and some pressure in her ears after the dose.
5/11/2013  –  Last night I noticed the RNAs tasted like soap, I also increased my ingested dosage to two drops per RNA.  This morning they still taste like soap.  We began given the RNAs to Yipi through ingestion.  Digestive Enzyme is still being put on her skin for now but she is getting it from my milk.  Erica noticed that her left eye lid is swollen.  Yipi’s rash seems to be healing. (pictures in file)
5/12/2013 – Noticed Yipi twisting her hair on her finger during her nap.  Also noticed her itching at her scalp a few days ago.  Rash getting worse.
5/13/2013 – I’m still swollen and Yipi started really ripping at her hair today.  I had to cut it off again.  Her scalp is red with hives, her abdomen, bikini are and booty are red.  I think she’s reacting to the digestive enzyme in my milk.
5/14/2013
  • Emailed manufacturer last night to see if digestive enzymes were sprayed onto maltodextrin to dry (cross contamination, maltodextrin is derived from corn).  From my research, in the past three years, it is industry standard to spray enzymes onto maltodextrin to dry.  Yes they do use a little maltodextrin (5/14 confirmed)
  • I am swollen, from 136.8 (swelling was subsiding from previously exposure) to 143lb in about 4 days
  • My eyelids are swollen and my eyelashes feel like daggers, pulling them out, trying to stop myself
  • Orange wax in ears
  • Lower back pain and hip pain (from swelling)
  • My insomnia has returned.  It is almost impossible to get to sleep at night and get back to sleep if I awake.
  • Yipi’s stomach is distended and swollen, her rash has brown whelps in it and is raised, the rash on her stomach is back, she is digging into her scalp and ripping her hair out, she is also having difficulty getting to sleep at night, and she is soaking through her diapers multiple times at night (sign of reaction for her)
  • We are reacting to something, it is either the RNAs or the digestive enzymes.  With our history of reactions and how enzymes are produced, I am leaning towards the digestive enzymes due to cross contamination at drying time during the manufacturing process (confirmed)
  • We pulled the digestive enzymes last night (5/13/2013).  We will see is the swelling and other symptoms subside.
  • I’ve also noticed another swollen, painful, bug bite looking thing under my arm.  I’m going to go with ingrown hairs at this point.  Definitely corn exposure.
  • Skin peeled off in two sheets on the middle finger on my left hand.  Very painful.
  • One good thing is Yipi pooped a teeny tiny amount today on her own.  About 1 tsp.  Black tar with a lot of mucous.
5/15/2013  –  Since pulling the digestive enzymes two days ago, Yipi’s itching has lessened and her rash is starting to heal and peel (she was getting a double dose, topical and from my milk).  My swelling is down to 139lbs and my lower back/hip pain has subsided.  Yipi pooped again a little.  About 1/4tsp of black tar.  I am having some pretty severe lip peeling today.

Why here?

I started the day with these thoughts:  “I would like one instance to not think about corn and corn derivatives.  I would like to be able to shop for one thing and not have to think about the possibility of the usage of corn.  I honestly feel like the world is telling me (world meaning United States) that I am asking for too much.”  Why these negative thoughts?

It is time to start thinking about gardening.  I want three large gardens this year to have a prayer of having food in the winter.  I am thankful for our farm but it is NOT enough food for three people, just one and that one is the Yipiyuk.  So, in my plan to have multiple large gardens (that have a prayer of producing food), the hubby and I thought it a good idea to start seeds.  We need a place that is compact and that can be blocked off and protected from the hands of an inquisitive and destructive (she likes to take things apart to see how they work…and she likes to try to put them back together) Yipiyuk and a very skittish and subsequently clumsy Doodle.

Aluminum Grow stand

We found these beautiful, powdered aluminum grow stands that might fit the bill and we were very excited about them, until I dug a little deeper to understand how the system worked and which of their many seed-starters would house the seeds.  Enter the Fast Start Seed-starter.  It sounds great!

  • Fast germination and robust seedling growth in a convenient self-watering growing system
  • Earth-friendly planting tray is made from a biodegradable cornstarch-based material
  • Heavy-duty reservoir is dishwasher-safe; reusable capillary mat is machine-washable

Fast germination and robust seedling growth?  Definitely need that!  Self-watering?  Score, I won’t kill them (like the last seedlings)!    Dishwasher safe is ok…but we don’t have a dishwasher.  Sounds great! Right?  ….Did you guys catch the middle bullet?

Earth-friendly planting tray is made from a biodegradable cornstarch-based material. 

Why is corn here?  Why today?  Ever feel like something is trying to steal your buzz?  I was feeling pretty good last night.  The best I’ve felt in almost two years and this was almost enough to make me start on the spiral of hating the corny dependence in which our nation has managed to place itself, which is enough to make me swell from stress.  My thoughts were getting negative, more negative than what I wrote at the beginning of the post…but I’m good now.  I have to stop the madness that likes to take over my thoughts.  I decided to email the company directly to see if they would be willing to work with us in substituting the corny products with something else or possibly just leaving them out and giving us a discount, hopefully they will be willing to work with us.  I am sure there is a reasonable way around this.  That’s what I’m telling myself at least.

So, I guess this post is just to remind you all to always dig a little deeper before you purchase something, but don’t let the discovery of corn derivatives drag you down.  Unfortunately corn is everywhere in this country, we just need to stay vigilant so that we do not inadvertently make ourselves ill.

Big Bad Corn from LearnStuff.com

LearnStuff.com posted a great infographic about the overuse of corn in the United States.  Forward this to anyone who says corn is not used in everything.  “Corn is found in 3 out of 4 supermarket products.”  Based on correspondence with hundreds of companies, I would venture to say corn is used in the manufacturing, production, packaging or cleaning process of at least 50-75% of the remaining 25% of supermarket products.

The Search for Corn Free Paint

I’ve been researching paint and paint companies for well over a year now.  While I don’t have a specific paint that I can recommend to others (haven’t taken the painting plunge as of yet), I am beginning to feel as though one company may potentially be safer than the other “environmentally friendly,” no-VOC, no odor companies that are out there.  My goal is to find:

  1. a no-VOC
  2. No-odor
  3. Chemical-emitting-off-gassing free
  4. Corn derivative free
  5. Soy derivate free
  6. Latex free … paint for my home.

♫  To dream the impossible dream… ♫

We are in no hurry to paint, that is a task for after diagnoses and treatment; but I would like to be as prepared as possible when the times comes.

Here are some nagging similarities I noticed between the commercial paint companies:

  1. Most of the companies had a desire to capitalize on the “green” marketing, so they decided to have a “green” product.  Unfortunately, after reading the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), it seems that the “green” products are just as toxic as the non-green counterpoint. These companies usually labeled their paint as “low-VOC.”
  2. Most of the “no-VOC” or “no odor” companies still list either formaldehyde, acetone, ammonia, “ethyl” something or some masking agent on their MSDS.  Masking agents are just another unnecessary chemical that hides nauseous fumes that will off gas from the paint.  No VOC does not mean no toxic ingredients.  These paints can have toxic ingredients exempt from government regulations.  Go here to read more
  3. It took an act of GOD to get a response from these people (I’m still waiting to hear from a few companies).  I am so thankful for Google and the ability to search for the MSDS for popular paint manufacturers.
  4. So many companies use latex based paints…”The majority of emissions from latex paints occurs after the coating has dried.”  (see The ABCs about VOCs)

After months of researching the more commercially available paints from Lowe’s, Home Depot, and the like, I finally came across Mythic and AFM Safecoat paints.  Thank you, Google.  I read all of the MSDS and contacted the companies.  Both companies have fantastic customer service and answered all of my question (well…not all) promptly.  Please keep in mind, the correspondence occurred May 2012.  Manufacturing processing can change very quickly in the avoiding corn/soy/chemicals world.  You will need to contact the companies yourself to ensure that the manufacturing processes have not changed.

Corn derivatives are like ninjas when it comes to finding their way into paint.  Polyols, organic acids, modified starch, unmodified starch, cellulose, thickening agents, additives are all ways in which corn derivatives can be used in paint.  Soy can also be used in the same way as corn.  We have to avoid both.  …sigh.  Here are a few links listing corn derivatives as ingredients in paint manufacturing:

Here are a few links concerning the use of soybean oil and paint:

The following are the questions I used for contacting Mythic paint and AFM Safecoat concerning chemicals, corn and soy.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  I am currently awaiting the reply from AFM Safecoat concerning their acrylic copolymer.  I want to ensure that it is not derived from soy.

TO AFM SAFECOAT AND MYTHIC PAINT:

Most household paint uses some kind of modified and/or unmodified starch in their manufacturing process and the starch is typically derived from corn.

  • I was told your paint is created with MCS sufferers in mind. Does this still hold true? (I removed this question when I emailed Mythic Paint)
  • Do you know if any modified and/or unmodified starches are used in the production of your paint as a thickening agent, additive or something else?
  • If so, can you research and see if the starch is derived from corn?
  • If not, what are the thickening agents and/or additives derived from that your company uses?
  • Do you all use any organic acids?
  • If so can you research to see if the organic acids are derived from corn or soy?
  • Do you all use any polyols in your manufacturing processes?
  • If so, can you please research and let us know if they are derived from corn?

We react to many things that are deemed safe by the FDA and even our allergist. My line of questioning comes from purchasing things and attempting to use them with sometimes disastrous results. I understand that some of your ingredients maybe proprietary, but if you can at least tell me if the product would be safe for us based on the aforementioned questions, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

AFM SAFECOAT TO ME:

1. “Most household paint uses some kind of modified and/or unmodified starch in their manufacturing process and the starch is typically derived from corn. Do you know if any modified and/or unmodified starches are used in the production of your paint as a thickening agent, additive or something else? If so, is the starch is derived from corn?”

  • There is no starch used in the manufacturing process.

2. “If not from corn, what are the thickening agents and/or additives derived from?”

  • Cellulose (derived from wood and cotton).

3. “Do you use any organic acids? If so, are they derived from corn or soy?”

  • None used.

4. “Do you use any polyols in your manufacturing processes? If so, are they derived from corn?”

  • None used.

MYTHIC PAINT TO ME:

Thank you for your interest in Mythic paint products. I have discussed your questions with one of our chemists and have been informed that there is a possibility that our raw materials are manufactured alongside other materials containing corn and/or soy. For this reason, we cannot recommend using our products. We wish you the best in your search.

I would not recommend mythic paint to a corn and/or soy avoider.  I would also be hesistant to recommend it to an individual suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity.  Their MSDS lists latex, additives, and fillers.   “The majority of emissions from latex paints occurs after the coating has dried.”  (see The ABCs about VOCs)  I appreciate the company’s honestly in telling me to avoid their product due to potential cross contamination issues, but I would have appreciated more specific answers to my questions.  If you are a consumer not interesting in avoiding corn and/or soy derivatives, latex and additives/fillers, then Mythic Paint might be good for you.  If that fits your description then check out this review.  If that doesn’t describe you, check out the comments section on the aforementioned link.  These people did not fare well at all with Mythic Paint.

AFM Safecoat might be a possibility for my household.  Their MSDS lists water, acrylic copolymer, titanium dioxide, limestone, and calcined kaolin clay on the ingredients list.  I am awaiting their reply concerning the the acrylic copolymer and the possibility of soy derivatives.  I will update the post when I receive their reply.  You can visit this site to see more products offered by AFM Safecoat and to also download other MSDS sheets for those products.

As an aside:  Someone on another site mentioned FreshAire Choice paint.  I’ve been to the website on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and I cannot get the MSDS sheet to download.  I searched Google (I love you, Google) and found this information:

  • Sodium aluminosilicate
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Calcined kaolin clay
  • Water
  • Vinyl acetate / Acrylic copolymer
  • All in a latex base

You can contact that particular company for more information concerning the source for the suspect ingredients and any hidden ingredients.

A Brief Recapitulate for Hidden Corn

I wanted to quickly re-post a few older blogs for anyone new to corn allergy or new to CornFreeLifestyle blog.  Please make a note of these links, save the documents as PDFs on your computers, or copy and paste any and all information that may be relevant to you.  These documents will help you when dealing with companies concerning any potential hidden corn and knowing which questions to ask in order to have more accurate answers.

If you’re new to corn allergy, I encourage you to read my New to Corn Allergy page.  There is a wealth of information there that has proven to be invaluable to me and my daughter.

Document from the Illinois Corn Association concerning the usage of corn in products

List of “allowed ingredients” in organic food processing

Corn usage poster from Center for Crops Utilization Research from Iowa State University

Corn usage poster from Casco, the Canadian business unit of Corn Products International, Inc.

Xanthan gum and corn allergy

Vaccines and potential corn derivatives

Chemurgy and products made from corn

The difference between natural and organic and how corn can still hide in organic products

Using Grain in Industry from MarylandGrain

MarylandGrain gives vastly incomplete but accurate details as to how corn is used in industry.  Vegetable (corn and soy) based inks are used to make the baby footprints at the hospital,  camera film, cleaners, container packaging, food packaging, printers ink, packing peanuts, lubricants, paper, photo and ID cards, the ink on snack packs, but there are many more applications of corn in industry.  I, unfortunately, react to most products made utilizing corn and soy derivatives.  My reactions usually include hives, severe itching, headache, “brain fog,” dizziness, and sinus pain; I have loss consciousness when exposed to too much corrugated cardboard.  It is difficult to avoid an allergen that is used so pervasively in our society.  I encourage you to do the best you can and try to learn and memorize the potential pitfalls that are lurking like a ninja around every corner.

http://www.marylandgrain.com/Uses%20in%20industry.htm

USING GRAIN IN INDUSTRY

— 

Baby Prints

In 1995 the first ever baby footprints were recorded in a hospital with ink made from grain. Nurses report that the ink worked very well, and was easier to clean than petroleum-based ink. Normally, nurses have to scrub under the baby’s toenails, but this ink cleans up using just soap and water.

Camera Film

Photographic films are made from the starch portion of corn.

— 

Cleaners

Safer “new uses” cleaning products made from corn and soybeans have been developed and are being used worldwide. Multipurpose industrial strength solvent and glass and surface cleaners are cost competitive and do not create hazardous waste or water pollution. Waterless hand cleaners are healthier for the skin, do not crack the hands or smell. In electric applications where material failure and death occur, the hand cleaners have passed industry specifications and standards tests conducted by utilities, high voltage rubber glove makers and government laboratories.

Container packaging

Cornstarch is used in the production of paper packaging materials such as corrugated cardboard. Low cost, environmentally-friendly, pre-formed packaging for electronic equipment, egg cartons, and as a substitute for corrugated containers has also been developed. These new packaging products made from popcorn will replace those made largely from petroleum.

— 

Food packaging

Popcorn is bringing an alternative in food service packaging, with the functional characteristics of molded polystyrene for use in plates, cups, and serving packages such as hamburger clamshells. Made from a vegetable-product, this packaging offers a safer product for consumers and the environment.

Ink

Corn- and soy-based inks are now replacing printer’s ink that was made from 100% petroleum products. Being vegetable-based makes it safe for placemats and packaging where ink may come in contact with our food. The colors are brighter and more easily recycled, revolutionizing the newspaper industry. Printing machines run smoother, are easier to clean, and safer for employees.

Lubricants

International Lubricants, Inc. synthesizes specialty lubricant additives from agricultural oils and formulates them into environmentally benign lubricants for consumer, industry and automotive uses. High-performance lubricants refined from renewable crop oils rather than imported petroleum cost more short-term – and much less long- term. The immediate payoff is that these new oils offer smoother running systems. Long-term benefits include such environmental payoffs as cleaner air, purer water and less depletion of our fossil fuels. These oils are required in applications such as hydraulic fluids for use in earth-moving equipment operating around dams and other locations where surface or ground water could be contaminated.

— 

Packing peanuts

“Packing Peanuts” made of nearly 100% corn and wheat are now available. Made from a renewable resource, biodegradable packaging peanuts do not add to our problems of waste disposal. Products made from styrofoam take up valuable landfill space, and styrofoam can take up to 20 years to decompose. They contain no harmful products that will endanger the environment. Environmentally safe starch peanuts may be put in a compost pile or allowed to disappear naturally in water.

— 

Paper

Nearly every single sheet of printing paper uses cornstarch to improve printability. Each ton of paper produced uses 28 pounds of cornstarch. Uncoated kenaf papers are tree-free, chlorine-free and acid-free. Exceptional print quality and functionality have been achieved in four-color process printing on sheet-fed and cold and heat-set web presses.

  —

Phone & ID Cards

Sheet products made from corn polymers are used in the printable plastics industry – specifically phone cards, I.D. cards and similar value-added items other than the financial card industry.

 — 

Snack packs

Oat flour contains antioxidants that retard rancidity in fat-containing foods; it is a preservative inner coating for paper bags used to package salted nuts, coffee, and potato chips. Vegetable-based inks are used for safer packaging where ink may come in contact with our food.