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Cornhole
October 14, 2007 4:43 PM   Subscribe

What would the effects on my poop be, and what health risks would I incur, if I were to eat nothing but corn for a week?

We've all had that moment where we've looked into the toilet and thought man, that corn is some seriously hardcore non-soluble fiber. This got me wondering, if eating a small amount of corn causes corn bits to show up in my waste, what would happen if I ate nothing but corn for a week?

Worrying about the state of the world doesn't keep me up at night, but I've actually lost some sleep pondering this.

So, what would happen to my poop if I tried this? More importantly, are there any significant health risks that I would face if I were to undertake such an experiment? I'm curious about this, but I'm not yet ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of science.

All right, hivemind, let's put our minds in the toilet.
posted by Parasite Unseen to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Your parasite would no longer be unseen and you could begin a business as a human pebble-dasher!
However, so long as you kept yourself well hydrated, you wouldn't be at too much of a health risk. Many have fasted much longer to no adverse effect.
posted by Abiezer at 5:12 PM on October 14, 2007


Corn's not great for a couple reasons. All that insoluble fiber would be good for you, which seems to be the question that you're asking. The protein in corn is made up of amino acids, like other proteins, but it's deficient in some of the essential amino acids that your body needs and over a long period of time that would pose a nutritional problem. I don't think this would show up in a week.

If you eat hominy grits - corn soaked in lye - you can get pellagra, which is niacin deficiency. If you avoid this and eat only fresh corn, it's pretty high in vitamin. Over a week, if you're starting from a healthy place, your fat soluble vitamin levels will not decline to zero, and there's plenty of Bs and C in corn. My guess is that a healthy person could probably eat corn for a week and do just fine, but I'm not recommending it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:25 PM on October 14, 2007


Chuck Klosterman ate nothing but McNuggets for a week (you can read about it in his book Klosterman IV)

Bob Blumer ate (well, drank) nothing but Guinness for a week (you can read about it here, "The Guinness Diary").

I personally know more than one person that has done a weeklong master cleanse.

IANAD, but my guess is that a week of anything (including nothing) is not going to have any catastrophic effects in the long-term (you might feel gross or even sick afterwards, though.)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 5:26 PM on October 14, 2007


Previously experimentally researched.
posted by jchgf at 5:27 PM on October 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


Well, if you're a rat then you'll up your risk for cancer from aflotoxin contamination of the corn.

If you're a horse, make sure your corn is really really clean or you'll develop leukoencephalomalacia. The article also suggests that a corn only diet is deficient in many nutrients including choline and methionine.

Here's a cheat sheet for choline and methionine deficiency.

If you're a duck, it'll impair your excretion of heavy metals.

Corn has the lowest protein content by mass compared to other commonly eaten grains. Expect loss of lean muscle mass.

... and someone else already asked the question (but had pretty crappy answers).
posted by porpoise at 5:28 PM on October 14, 2007


ikkyu2, alkali processing of corn increases the bioavailability of Niacin.
posted by Good Brain at 6:10 PM on October 14, 2007


Yeah, did you leave out a negative, ikkyu2? The alkali treatment liberates the niacin. It's fresh, unprocessed corn which has less available niacin.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:57 PM on October 14, 2007


Good Brain is right, the traditional method of preparing corn in ancient cultures that use corn as a staple is to treat it with lye first.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:58 PM on October 14, 2007


jchgf's link says four days until total corn poop.

Does anyone know if peanuts would have a similar "outcome?" Those little boogers can make it through my system intact.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:59 PM on October 14, 2007


Thanks for the answers, everyone. I might try this little experiment, but jchgf's link provided me with all the information that I really needed.

I was pretty sure that a week of nothing but corn would be too short a period of time to give me any serious problems, but I figured a second opinion wouldn't hurt. In my younger, more foolish days, poor financial planning resulted in me spending six days eating nothing but (uncondimented) Eggo waffles and Cadbury Cream Eggs. Compared to that, corn seems downright tame.

Once again, thanks to all involved.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:09 PM on October 14, 2007


Yep, got it backwards - the alkali treatment of hominy grits liberates the niacin.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:57 PM on October 14, 2007


heh.
posted by tehloki at 9:10 PM on October 14, 2007


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