Updated: Sep 21, 2021
At Vitality, we will frequently recommend a version of an elimination diet for our patients. While the guidelines change a bit based on the patient's needs, there are some restrictions that we see added to most plans.
One of the recommendations that raises the most questions is the removal of the common egg. "Why must I give up my morning scramble? Isn't it a great source of protein? Wasn't there an entire campaign done by the FDA on the benefits of eggs?"
While you are correct in assuming eggs are a great source of protein, it turns out that there's much more going on in that little egg than you may think. First of all, eggs are one of the most allergenic foods with approximately 2-3% of the population affected. Given that eggs are such an important staple for many, we understand why people question giving it up.
Sarah from the Paleo Mom explains it well:
"One of the main functions of the white of the egg is to protect the yolk against microbial attack while the embryo grows. It achieves this worthy goal by using proteolytic enzymes (or proteases), enzymes that can cleave proteins into shorter chains of amino acids (typically rendering those proteins inactive/useless in the process). The specific protease in egg whites that those of us with autoimmune disease (or severe allergies or severely leaky guts) need to be concerned with is called lysozyme.
Absorption of pure egg white lysozyme by itself into circulation is likely not problematic because lysozyme is an enzyme that the body naturally produces (unless it is absorbed in very high concentrations and then it can cause kidney damage). The problem is the other proteins that piggyback on lysozyme across the gut enterocyte barrier. It is this “leak” of other egg white proteins that is the reason why egg allergy is so common. Any other proteins present in the digestive tract can potentially bind in the lysozyme complex and get helped across the gut and into the bloodstream (or lymph). And because lysozyme binds bacterial wall proteins, these are likely to “leak” across the gut enterocyte layer as well. These foreign proteins are believed to contribute to a molecular mimicry response where the body, in its attempt to form antibodies against these foreign invaders, accidentally creates an antibody that also recognizes a normal protein in the human body."
So, while eggs are good for you, they have the unique ability to allow invaders to cross the gut barrier and enter the bloodstream. Removing eggs for a short time allows the body time to heal and be better equipped to handle inflammatory responses in the future.