What's with corn and the digestive system?

Why does corn come out looking the same way it does when it comes in?


Corn’s adaptation to help its seed to spread is to be tough enough to survive the cracking and grinding that most birds do to seeds when they eat. The seed’s outer husk is very tough (and is generally not digestible).

Most human societies who used corn as a dietary staple (whether Aztecs or Iroquois), first milled down the corn, using the stuff inside the kernel as meal. When Europeans began eating it, they were already using wheat, oats, and similar grains as their staple and they tended to use corn (maize) as an ornamental or side dish rather than a staple. Since they did not depend on the corn for their nutrition, they did not have to destroy the hull.

Thus, we eat the corn for its taste and filling properties, not its nutrition, and we pass the hull (generally including the nutrients inside it) all the way through.

That was a crappy reply, Tom :wink:

I read in an interview that the band Korn got their name from this very phenomenon!

I have to say that the insides are gone after the corn has been digested. What remains is the indigestible outer part.

Another opinion: if you chew your corn, COSMIN, the insides will be digested, and the fragmented outer part will be almost invisible in the background (if yours is colored colored like mine). You can consider chewing corn as rough milling.

Does this mean corn is a good source of dietary fiber? I’m just surprised because I’ve never heard of it mentioned among good fiber sources (like celery).

Sorry biggirl you are wrong.

A kernel of corn can survive the three stomachs of a cow and still sprout.

Not many of them survive that trip but enough to make me impressed with their toughness.

Cooking will kill the germ so cooked corn will not sprout.

[Mr. Hankey reference]

He may be nutty, he may be corny,
He may be brown or greenish-brown,
But if you eat fiber on Christmas Eve,
He might come to your town

[/Mr. Hankey reference]

I suppose this is a slight hijack, but why are nuts the other thing that can’t be digested???

For much the same reason as corn. They’re meant to pass through the digestive system of various mammals so they can be spread. Whether it be cow, squirrel or homo erectus.

Pericarp, sometimes referred to as bran, is the outer layer (husk).

Sure. Corn is a good source of fiber. Insoluble fiber. From http://www.nal.usda.gov

Complex carbohydrates, such as starches, are in breads, cereals, pasta, rice, dry beans and peas, and other vegetables, such as potatoes and corn. Dietary fiber – a part of plant foods – is in whole-grain breads and cereals, dry beans and peas, vegetables, and fruits. It is best to eat a variety of these fiber-rich foods because they differ in the kinds of fiber they contain.

      • Yes, but if you eat some gravel (lke birds do), then can you digest corn? Will you be able to digest anything better? Will the rocks stay in your stomach, or move on? - MC

Gravel won’t do much for humans, I expect.

Birds have their gizzard, a muscular pouch in the throat, to hold the gravel and the seeds they eat, and use it to do their own milling.

Which brings up a question: Do all birds have a gizzard? Many eat meat or soft fruits that don’t need to be broken up. Is a gizzard just a late adaptation for seed-eaters?

No, MC, gravel is for the birds. Their stomachs are very muscular (look at the chicken’s giblet), they act as mills and gravel plays the role of millstones, as their stomach contracts.
Will the rocks stay in your stomach, or move on?
My guess would be that they would move, but you can do the experiment on yourself.