Why do people eat corn starch?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “Why do people eat corn starch?” Also, we’ll explore the effects of eating cornstarch, what cornstarch is, and what are the uses of corn starch. 

Why do people eat cornstarch

People eat cornstarch because they have an illness called amylophagia. 

Amylophagia is an eating disorder characterized by an individual’s cravings for pure, uncooked starch. It is considered a dietary abnormality, and in itself, may be a cause or a symptom of iron deficiency anemia, 

Amylophagia is considered part of a broader dietary disorder known as pica, in which certain individuals begin to crave the consumption of, or otherwise eat things that aren’t classified as food. These may include corn starch, drywall, dirt, clay, paper, etc. 

There seems to be an ethnic component, as amylophagia is most often observed in gestating black women. 

What are the effects of eating cornstarch

While corn starch is not poisonous or anything of the sort, eating it in copious amounts may cause indigestion and bloat. 

At a molecular level, starch is a long chain made up of many individual glucose molecules. It can therefore cause a spike in blood glucose levels, that in pregnant women, can lead to gestational diabetes. 

It can be a quick source of energy, but it offers very scant nutrition, as corn starch has been essentially purified of any fiber or additional nutrients present in corn. As such, consuming cornstarch in place of other more nutrient-dense foods may lead to deficiencies. 

Sugar that isn’t readily consumed by a person’s cells can be turned into glycogen, triggering weight gain, fatty liver disease, and buildup of fatty acids in blood vessels that can lead to circulatory problems. 

The sudden intake of such high amounts of pure sugar can also lead to a spike in the concentration of microbes present in the gut. This can lead to indigestion and other digestive problems such as diarrhea, flatulence, colitis, etcétera. 

What is corn starch

Corn starch alludes to the purified starch extracted from kernels. Depending on the variety of maize being harvested, some may have a higher content of sugar, while others may have more oil. 

Corn starch is obtained by milling sugary kernels, and then separating other components such as the seed coat and water content. 

Through centrifugation, which consists of spinning a homogeneous mixture at very high speeds, the components can be separated into layers, in accordance with their molecular weight. 

Heavy substances will build up at the bottom, whereas lighter substances will form layers at the top. Other substances that are separated when purifying corn starch include lips (from the kernel’s germ), and proteins such as gluten.

Separated components need not be discarded, the kernel rinds may be collected to make livestock feed, gluten can be packaged and sold to bakeries, and oils extracted from kernels can be made into cooking oil, whereas the remaining starch can be further purified. 

What are the uses of corn starch

Corn starch has various uses that expand well beyond culinary aims. 

For example, it can be used to:

  • launder clothes and remove stains that aren’t water-soluble,
  • it can be used to treat mild sunburns, bug bites, and blisters when applied as a paste,
  • used as a natural deodorant,
  • A natural shampoo,
  • to give special finishings to nail lacquer,
  • To prevent the onset of athlete’s foot (Tinea podaris)
  • To reduce friction
  • To polish silverware
  • As a very mild abrasive and cleaning product, etc. 

However, it is not indicated for usage or exposure to open wounds, as its sugar content may inadvertently provide microbes with nourishment and stimulate infection. 

On an industrial scale, corn starch can be used as a thickening agent in products such as pastes, gels, spreads, and other viscous products. 

Starch can also be used to emulsify other molecules when combined with water, as it’ll form granules 

As a dietary component, starch should be consumed sparingly, as it provides copious amounts of sugar, and little if anything else at all. 


In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the query: “Why do people eat corn starch?” Also, we’ve explored the effects of eating cornstarch, what cornstarch is, and what are the uses of corn starch.