Locations:
Search IconSearch

Why Can You See Corn in Poop?

The short answer from a registered dietitian

small boy covers eyes in bathroom

A: There’s a simple scientific explanation for the plate-to-poop journey of that corn kernel you gnawed off of a cob or scooped off your plate. To understand it, though, you need to grow your corn knowledge.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Corn kernels are actually seeds. The interior of the kernel holds the germ, or corn embryo. The germ is surrounded by a starchy food supply (endosperm) that feeds the seed after it germinates.

This is tasty and nutritious stuff, both for humans and billions of insects looking for a field snack.

That brings us to the kernel’s protective hull, or shell. The highlight of this outer layer is a waxy coating of cellulose. The bonds connecting cellulose molecules are very strong, creating what amounts to a survival defense shield.

How tough is that fibrous shell of cellulose? Well, it’s tough enough to withstand the rigors of the human digestive system. That’s why the casing of the corn kernel passes through your system looking fully intact.

The inside of the kernel, however, does break down in your stomach and intestines. That allows you to absorb nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C and magnesium from the corn you ate.

If you find the reappearance of corn after a meal a bit unappetizing, there is a solution: chew more. Grinding corn between your teeth helps break down the outer casing of the kernel and reduce the colorful additions to bowel movements.

One more fact, too, as sweet corn starts popping up at markets: The average ear of corn includes about 800 kernels. That’s a lot of opportunity for pops of color in your poop after eating corn on the cob.

Dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Hand holding coffee cup with the background split to show toilet paper.
January 23, 2023/Digestive
The Daily Grind: Why Coffee Makes You Poop

Acids in coffee can give you the urge to go in just minutes

A canvas full of colors.
November 22, 2022/Health Conditions
What’s the Color of Your ‘Goo’ Telling You?

Not all rainbows have gold at the end — the ones our bodies produce offer insight into our health

Graphic of woman sitting on a toilet while looking at her phone.
May 10, 2022/Digestive
How Often and How Long Should It Take You to Poop?

Everyone poops, but here’s what may affect how often you visit the toilet

Various piles of colorful poop in brown, red, green, yellow and black.
February 13, 2022/Digestive
Is It Normal To Have Different-Colored Poop?

Poop that’s green, red or some other hue is probably due to something you ate — but it could be a sign of health issues, too

running to toilet
February 10, 2022/Digestive
Poop Shape, Color and Smell: What’s Healthy and What’s Not

Your #2 can be the #1 sign of a medical issue

A table with a bowel of green food and berries
August 26, 2021/Digestive
Why Is Your Poop Green?

There’s usually a simple answer, but it also can be a reason for concern

baby getting diaper changed
December 30, 2020/Children's Health
The Color of Baby Poop and What It Means

What’s normal? When to worry?

Plate of blueberries and strawberries
August 24, 2020/Digestive
How Your Diet Can Affect Your Poop Color

Most colors are perfectly healthy. But some might be cause for concern.

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad