If stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve metals, why can't it seem to break down corn very well?

 
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497 IKU
Posted on Aug. 26th, 2008

That IS interesting. Especially since it only takes 1L of HCL to dissolve like 20 g of Iron. Fe(s) + 2 HCl(aq) → FeCl2 (aq) + H2 (g).

http://emj.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/21/5/553

Jamara & nocountry's answers are fantastic. but i like the idea of digesting things like a snake. maybe we wouldn't gain fat but just have a lump for a few days ... and then later we'd be fine. skinny. and the world will stop telling us to eat subway.

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3,722 IKU
Posted on Aug. 20th, 2008

Hmm.

Well corn contains cellulose. And humans cannot breakdown cellulose. It's meant to be passed on -it acts like roughage, dietary fiber.

HCL - the acid that you're probably talking about - can remove rust from steel. But that's only in super high concentration. Our stomachs do not have that kind of super HCL.

Finally, it's a misconception to assume that because a chemical can breakdown something that is "hard," it can breakdown something that is "soft." This is not the case. The material brokendown has to be soluble too.

Perhaps cellulose is not.

But other mammals can digest cellulose, like cows. So it might have to do with the fact that human gastric acid contains potassium chloride and sodium chloride as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastric_acid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrochloric_acid#Industrial_market
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulose

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6,408 IKU
Posted on Aug. 24th, 2008

nocountry's answer is great. I just wanted to add that if you swallow a coin, you don't digest it -- it passes through your system (most of us tried this at least once when we were little kids, lol). So though in a different environment the same acid that is found in our stomachs can remove rust, or even gradually eat through metal, in the environment of our stomachs and the amount of time that food spends there our stomachs can break down metal.

Also, if our stomach acids could break everything down on their own, we probably would not have evolved to chew and swallow food and have a narrow esophagus. We'd probably swallow food whole and digest it for days like snakes!

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11,162 IKU
Posted on Aug. 20th, 2008

Wow, excellent answer and pretty interesting too. Thanks!

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