The WHYs behind the Autoimmune Protocol: Eggs

June 23, 2012 in Categories: by

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Eggs are one of the most allergenic foods with approximately 2-3% of the population affected.  However, people are still surprised when I advertise an egg-free recipe or mention that I can’t eat eggs.  It’s not because I’m allergic but because I have an autoimmune disease and eggs are excluded on the Autoimmune Protocol.  Given that eggs are such an important staple for the paleo enthusiast (as a breakfast food, as a cheap protein, and as an ingredient in the vast majority of paleo baking recipes), I get asked “Why Eggs?” frequently. 

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).  There are many different types of proteolytic enzymes, each highly specialized to cleave a specific type of protein and/or in a specific place.  In particular, the proteolytic enzymes in egg whites are very good at cleaving proteins in the cell membranes of certain bacteria (specifically gram-negative bacteria, which I’ll come back to in a couple of paragraphs).  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. 

I used to use lysozyme in the biology lab to break apart the membranes of bacteria (typically bacteria that I had engineered to grow specific DNA strands for me).  Lysozyme is specific for bacterial membranes, works very quickly, is very resistant to heat, is stable in very acidic environments (so it’s still active even after cooking eggs thoroughly and digestion!), and is really a pretty ingenious little enzyme (that’s me geeking out).  Humans also produce lysozyme as part of our normal defense mechanisms against bacterial infections.  It is present in our saliva, tears and mucus (including the mucus layers in the intestines).  So, if we already make our own lysozyme, why is it a problem in egg whites?

Lysozyme has the ability to form strong complexes with other proteins.  So, lysozyme from egg white typically passes through our digestive system in large complexes with other egg white proteins.  Many of the proteins present in egg whites are protease inhibitors (see this post for more information on how protease inhibitors can contribute to a leaky gut).  This means that the lysozyme/egg white protein complexes are resistant to digestion by our digestive enzymes (which are themselves proteases).  You might be wondering if lysozyme is still active if it is a protease and it is now bound to egg white protease inhibitors.  The answer is yes, it is still active.  The egg white protease inhibitors that are most likely to be bound to lysozyme are ovomucin and ovastatin, which are a trypsin inhibitors (trypsin is one of our main digestive enzymes), cystatin, which is a cysteine protease inhibitor, and ovoinhibitor, which is a serine protease inhibitor.  None of these inhibitors inhibit the activity of lysozyme.  And very importantly, as the lysozyme complex travels (largely intact) through the environment of our gut, lysozyme can also bind bacterial proteins from the bacteria normally present in our digestive tract (like the gram-negative E. coli!). 

Lysozyme has an unusual chemical property (it maintains a positive charge) that allows it to cross through the enterocytes by electrostatic attraction to negatively charged proteins imbedded in the enterocyte cell surface (proteoglycans).  Research confirms that consumed lysozyme gets into the circulation even in healthy individuals (even in conjunction with food intake, although the amount that enters the circulation is lower). 1,2,3Absorption 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 blood stream (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. 

It’s also important to point out that the ability of lysozyme to cross the gut barrier (carrying potentially immunogenic proteins along with it) is a fairly small effect.  In normal, healthy individuals, lysozyme is not likely to cause significant damage to the healthy lining of the gut or cause a substantial immune response (although the effect of lysozyme is why Prof. Loren Cordain recommends limiting eggs to 6 per week).  In healthy individuals, pastured or omega-3 eggs can be an excellent, inexpensive source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, choline, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D and the B vitamins.  However, in the case of autoimmune disease, individuals are more sensitive and tend to have exaggerated immune and inflammatory responses to foreign proteins in the circulation.  These individuals are also more likely to form auto-antibodies in response to bacterial proteins that may enter into the circulation with lysozyme. 

You might notice here that this discussion was entirely related to egg white proteins.  Egg yolks are not likely to cause these issues.  However, if you are following the Autoimmune Protocol, I urge caution since egg yolks are a very common food sensitivity in those with leaky guts (note that this is different than being allergic to them).  I still recommend avoiding both egg white and yolk when you first adopt the Autoimmune Protocol.  But, of all of the foods that are restricted in this protocol, I think egg yolks are the most likely to be tolerated and many people can add them back in. 


1 Kondor-Koch C, et al.  Exocytotic pathways exist to both the apical and the basolateral cell surface of the polarized epithelial cell MDCK. Cell, 1985. 43(1): 297-306,

2 Hashida S, et al. Concentration of egg white lysozyme in the serum of healthy subjects after oral administration. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2002.  29(1-2):79-83.

3 Nishikawa M, et. al. Electrical charge on protein regulates its absorption from the rat small intestine. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2002.  282(4):G711-9.

Comments

Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I am wondering what then do I eat for breakfast. I have an 11 year old with an autoimmune disease and fybromyalgia, I have hypoglycemia and my husband has fybromyalgia. So i chose to go paleo for the whole family to hopefully keep other autoimmune diseases and responses from happening if that’s possible. We also do not do dairy. I have also read to not do nuts on the autoimmune protocol. It seems to really limit what we eat. The whole family consists of 6 children hubby and myself.

I eat sausage for breakfast (usually homemade because it’s cheaper) with some fruit and veggies on the side (I especially like sauerkraut and baby spinach on the side). Yes, it is limiting to not be able to eat eggs OR nuts. Other breakfast options are smoothies made with coconut milk (you can try adding egg yolk to the smoothies) or something that looks like lunch or dinner.

I’ve “invented” breakfast salads: salmon, tuna or trout with coleslaw (& my own dressing) & avocado.

this make sense, but adds to my frustration! I have several autoimmune issues (celiac, hypothyroid, psoriatic arthritis, chronic anemia) and just don’t know what to eat anymore. I don’t cook, I am so tired all the time I just don’t have the energy to think about fixing anything. I basically stick to boiled chicken and grass fed beef. I find myself eating less and less, yet never lose weight! Food seems to have become an enemy, except for fruit, which I also should eat too much of. Frustrated!!!

I completely understand your frustration! The only thing I can say is that your energy should increase following the autoimmune protocol. I eat sausage for breakfast (there’s lots of options out there for pastured pork sausage, grass-fed beef/bison/lamb sausage) with veggies and fruit on the side (usually just some sauerkraut or raw spinach since I don’t have alot of time in the mornings). Lunch is typically canned or smoked fish or leftover meat with raw veggies (again it’s fast) and usually a bowl of bone broth. Supper is meat and veggies with fruit for dessert. I get the same thing where I don’t really feel like eating anything in front of me. But I know if I don’t eat, I’ll feel crummy and crave sugar later. It’s easier for me if I have leftovers to grab quickly, so I always try and plan to have something fast. Also, you might not be losing weight because you are eating too little (plus, it’s very difficult for the body to heal if you aren’t eating enough). I’m sorry this is so frustrating for you! :(

I totally relate! I’ve said many times, food is my enemy! If I just didn’t have to eat, if feel great! You’re not alone.

This was great!
I’m always highly interested in why some people thrive on one food that makes another person not thrive … especially when there is no particular allergy

I have always done well with eggs, and often have a couple of hard boiled eggs for lunch… or just one for a super-quick snack.

So here’s my question… do you suggest that I try eliminating eggs from my diet for a month or so, just to see if I feel even better?

Thanks for the good site and fascinating articles….

==>Jimbo Paleo

Great blog, I was hoping this post would answer some of my own questions but it only ended up raising more. I have an autoimmune disease and started to show IBS/Celiac symtpoms a few years ago. All my tests are negative, my allergy tests are negative, I seem to be getting all the nutrients I need, but I always have stomach issues.

But egg yolks (never the whites) make me extremely sick within 10 minutes of eating them. I feel terrible for the next 2-3 days but no one has been able to tell me what’s going on. It didn’t start happening until I was 21 – up to that point I ate scrambled eggs as a regular breakfast my whole life. I can still eat whites and they don’t seem to cause any reaction in me but any trace of a yolk and I’m done for.

I love all your info about the paleo diet, definitely book marked the blog. :)

Have you tried finding eggs from pastured chickens who are not getting fed wheat or other gluten-containing grains (and probably also not soy or corn)? This can be tricky to find. There is evidence that chickens fed soy have soy proteins in the yolks only of their eggs. And anecdotally, many celiacs report having issues with chickens who are fed gluten-containing grains (it’s possible that gluten is then present in their yolks). This hasn’t been measured as far as I know with gluten, but since it has with soy, that’s my guess as to why you’re having issues with yolks, especially if food allergy and sensitivity tests are showing that you aren’t sensitive/allergic to eggs (just the trace gluten that might be present in them). I hope this helps.

I used to buy pastured eggs from a local farm, but started reacting pretty terribly to them. I found out that even though the chickens lived out on beautiful, huge pastures, their supplemental feed was not organic and contained corn, soy, and wheat!

We started raising our own chickens. They have nearly two acres to roam and their supplemental feed is organic, soy, corn, and gluten free. I’ve never had a bad reaction eating them. I know I have leaky gut issues, and so am tempted to give up our backyard eggs to see if it helps me heal more completely, but I do incredibly well on these eggs. For folks who haven’t identified a specific sensitivity to yolks or whites, but still react to eggs, I think the feed can matter a lot!

What is your take on duck or goose eggs? My ND recommends eating duck eggs because I tested sensative to eggs on a blood test. Just wondering what your take is on it, because I haven’t seen anyone in the Paleo community recommend replacing chicken eggs with duck eggs for AI protocol. Most of the information I find substantiates her advice and states that most people who don’t tolerate chicken eggs, are able to tolerate duck eggs. Just wondering if you could weigh in on this? Thanks.

Lysozyme is found in all egg whites. Once you heal, you may be able to tolerate some eggs, but until then egg white is best avoided. But, pastured egg yolks do contain some great nutrition. I definitely think it’s worth trying the yolks to see how you do with them.

Very interesting! My son is highly allergic to eggs (and milk) and I am allergic to nuts (tree and peanuts) and many many other things….I came across your blog looking for some recipes (just mixed up the marinade for the asian chicken wings. can’t wait to try them.

I have known I was gluten intolerant for a decade. I was never tested, so I will never know if I would have been diagnosed as celiac. During the time since then I have been very strict about not eating known gluten-containing foods. Along the way I have discovered that I am also intolerant to some of the other foods listed above.

It was hard giving up eggs, because I found it so limiting after having eaten several a day for many years. Recently I discovered that if I throw away all the whites, I am able to eat unlimited yolks daily. I’m sure it wouldn’t work for everyone, but it has worked out well for me.

I can’t even get the cats to eat the whites, and these guys are the worst little thieves imaginable. I think that says something about the food quality of egg whites.

Dear Sarah,
This is the BEST EVER explanation I have ever found about egg allergy!!! THANK YOU! xx
Do you want to know something funny…..When I was 5 years old, and I was given eggs to eat, I always refused to eat the whites, and I loved the yolks!!! I thought the whites were yuck and wouldnt eat them at all, but I loved the rich buttery flavour of the yolks!!! Do you think I was being in touch with my instinct as a 5 year old? Well seeing as I am doing the AIP paleo properly this time, maybe after a couple of months I can re-introduce JUST the egg yolk and see how my body reacts!?….Pity, as I thought that egg whites help people get the lean ripped abs look in weight loss and body building!!

Yes, I totally think reintroducing egg yolks is worth it. And yes, I think you probably did have an instinct about eggs at 5-years old. Maybe when you ate the whites, you got a tummy ache or felt more tired. Food aversions to foods you are actually allergic or sensitive to are actually very common.

Thanks Sarah! :) Yes I remember having very weird allergy symptoms as a 5 year old too!! Like spots that looked like water droplets going all the way up and down my arms and legs!!! Wheat upset my bowels, I hated the smell of cow milk too!! I really loved fish!! I was very fussy, I hated cheap sausages because I did not know what bits of meat were in them Lol! I remember I had loads of energy when I had a fry-up like bacon or black pudding, yet as I grew up, all the health info out there taught us that meat was bad for Psoriasis and PsA, and sat fat was bad. I really agree with you, and think that the reason that diets like Pagano Psoriasis diet works in his book is due to removing Deadly Nightshades and Gluten/Dairy. But in the long term, being vegan (gluten free vegan as I was) has other detrimental affects on the body- as I found out for myself!!! I really seriously cannot live without Omega3 Fish oils!!! <3 Maybe one day in my future I will be a Paleo mom too :)

I have been re-introducing foods slowly. I have successfully added decaf coffee and almonds without any issues. Yesterday I tried eggs. I made sure to eat enough of them throughout the day, a total of 6. I felt fine all day, no apparent issues. Today though I have been extremely bloated and wondering if this is in fact from eating eggs. I am not sure if everyone’s reaction is different or if there are some similarities I should have looked for. Thanks for any help you can give and I cannot wait for your book!

Food sensitivity reactions typically peak between 4 and 28 hours, but can appear any time within several days afterward. Symptoms can be different from person to person and from food to food.

Thanks for the confirmation! Now I know why I always felt the way I did after eating eggs, thought for sure it was always something else! I ate eggs every morning and haven’t for almost 2 months and have been feeling better till the other day.

Hi Sarah, you mention in an earlier response to someone regarding breakfast sausage, “(there’s lots of options out there for pastured pork sausage, grass-fed beef/bison/lamb sausage).” Could you please point me in the direction of some of these options, either to make at home or for purchase in store/online? I’m having a hard time figuring out a palatable breakfast absent eggs (not that I loved them nor ate them frequently before, just now that I’m off my long time go-to breakfast of buckwheat & quinoa hot breakfast I’m at a loss without eggs too..) as the last thing I want when I first get up in the morning is a lunch/dinner like meal.. and so far the only “breakfast sausage” recipes I found online taste just like something you’d make for lunch (spices like oregano, etc). Not being able to have any form of sugar on the Whole30 right now NOR various typical breakfast sausage spices like paprika given the AIP will undoubtedly make it more difficult to find a yummy breakfast substitute, but.. I’m confident they’re out there! Thank you!

I have a question about separating the yolks from the whites. I used the method shown in Youtube videos, of moving the yolk between the two pieces of the shell. Then I rinsed the yolk under tap water, and picked off any visible pieces of white.

Is this enough to remove egg whites, for leaky gut purposes?

p.s. I may be posting a few comment-questions on different articles, because I just discovered your site. Hope that’s alright.

That’s what I do and it works for me. Not sure if that would be good enough if you had an allergy to egg white, but for leaky gut purposes, it should be fine.

… and comments are always welcome!

Hi Sarah,

great information as always, your blog has definately become a staple and much used encyclopedia for me in my way to healing! I wouldn’t know what to do without it :-)
I have a question about supplements when not eating eggs that I just posted on the balancedbites site, but then I thought maybe you know about this too, and since you were so amazingly helpful the last time I posted a question I hope you don’t mind if I copy+paste my post from Diane’s site, and put it here as well. Here it goes:

” I have a rather specific question, and I’m really hoping someone here might be able to help! I have been paleo for about 6 months, and I have your book. I have autoimmune symptoms and a leaky gut, slowly getting better, but there’s still a lot of fixing to do. In Practical Paleo you mention phosphatidylcholine as a supplement that’s useful when you’re avoiding eggs, would that have same effect as a choline supplement? When I looked online for phosphatidylcholine I also noticed that they were all derived from soy, is that ok, or might that be a problem? Would choline bitartrate be better? Which one should I choose when I can’t eat eggs, and my intention is to heal a leaky gut? Thanks in advance for any suggestions on this!”

Hi. I think you have me confused with Diane Sanfilippo who wrote Practical Paleo (her site is balancedbites.com). This isn’t a supplement that I’m very familiar with, so I’m afraid I can’t answer your question.

Dang, now eggs.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t think she has an AI illness. Curiously, my health (including my mental health) is getting so much better as I incorporate bone broth and sauerkraut into my modified keto food plan (126g fat, 90 protein, 25-40g carbs daily–no dairy, no grains), which I’ve followed for the last couple of months.
I stumbled across your site after someone on paleohacks suggested I let go of almond butter (goodbye…) as my weight loss was frozen. After reading about your AI protocol, I let the nuts and the pumpkin seeds and the coffee and the chocolate go. I figured a 90 day nut+ vacation wouldn’t kill me.
Then I read this post–eggs! Ack. Like a lot of folks, I’ve depended on eggs for a major chunk of my protein supply. As you note, they’re cheap, easy to carry, and versatile.My fridge is filled with boiled eggs, raw eggs, and this great batch of chopped egg salad with aioli (homemade) and cauliflower.
I then remembered I sometimes need to sleep after eating a meal with eggs. So the eggs are now buh-bye, too.
And that aioli? I of course put ground mustard (seed!) in it. I haven’t had any of it (or the egg salad) for a couple of days. Had a bite of the aioli today, and immediately got a headache and felt sleepy. Another one down (dropping like flies!).
I liken this food change process to peeling an onion. Every time I let go of one food, I find out that its symptoms have been hiding problems I have with other food. When I let go of wheat, for example, I discovered I couldn’t tolerate peanuts (after being practically raised on peanut butter). I let go of all grains, then couldn’t eat pinto beans (I eventually dropped all legumes).

And the last thing: I wish there was more space in the paleo/GAPS/AI food -spheres to discuss mourning–mourning the loss of certain foods, mourning the lost ability to just be like everybody else at the picnic…
Thanks.
Angela

Okay, Paleo Mom, I’m all revved up, my brain is about to explode, and I hope you are still watching this thread and can answer me!! :) First off, I’m a part of the Hashimotos 411 Facebook group, and you are highly respected over there! ;-)

Lysozyme. . .

1. I was AIP-ing early this year, and I read something either here or by Loren against egg whites, for the reasons you give, and have tried to avoid ever since.

2. I have (recovering from?) a bad scalp dandruff case (I describe it here, if you happen to be a member: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hashimotos411/permalink/10151726004499208/) and my research leads me to believe it may be fungal/yeast (Malassezia). (Side note: diet, internal selenium, zinc, probiotics, h pylori treatment, parasite treatment, and ARMOUR thyroid so far have not touched it, although I know I’m still far away from optimal. I do suspect my HCL is probably very low due to my H Pylori treatment, but I will begin HCL supplementation some time in Sept. and if this has negatively affected my scalp, it should be remedied then.)

Dogs seem to get this in their ears, and ZYMOX OTIC (3 active ingredients are enzymes http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11836267) seems to be their cure. See here ( http://www.fleetfiretimbers.com/FFT/Articles/SadiesYeastInfectionHowweovercameMalasseziaPachydermatitis.htm)

One of ZYMOX OTIC’s active ingredients is Lysozyme!

3. Early this year was diagnosed with H Pylori via METAMETRIX labs, and after weighing pros and cons at the time, decided to risk Pharma’s h pylori eradication route in April, and continue on anti-acid otc until late August before re-testing My research has shown me how Pharma’s eradication rate is not stellar, so I’ve been trying “natural” remedies as well in the interim, to further the chances of it being fully eradicated come September.

Enter these two articles:
http://www.advancedhealing.com/dr-ettingers-biofilm-protocol-for-lyme-and-gut-pathogens/
http://www.advancedhealing.com/heartburn-gastritis-gerd-achlorhydria-h-pylori-treatment/

In the second article above, Dr. Ettinger uses an enzyme supplement in the protocol he personally used to cure his H Pylori, operating on the notion that these enzymes will help penetrate and knock out the H Pylori biofilm colonies (hope I’m explaining it right). ONE OF THE ENZYMES IN THIS SUPPLEMENT IS LYSOZYME.

So my question becomes: Will these enzymes cleanse the H Pylori biofilm colonies from my stomach lining, only for the Lysozyme to carry this bacteria across my presumably leaky gut into my blood stream once it hits my gut, and if so, what then? Will it be worse than when the H Pylori was just in my stomach??

Second question. . . given my AI disease (Hashimotos) I’ve been studying the dairy connection.

Thus far, I have not been able to carry out a proper elimination diet in terms of adding foods back in in the proper way to check for intolerance. I’ve also not had any food allergy testing to check for a dairy sensitivity, other than my METAMETRIX GI panel that showed I had IgA antibodies to a protein in gluten I think it was. (I was gluten free prior to the test, and still am.)

I’m also more interested in the facts on dairy, instead of focusing solely on if my body can “tolerate” dairy, as in my mind, one’s body can tolerate something, and yet behind the scenes, it could still be furthering disease.

My research suggests CASEIN is the problem (unless one is lactose intolerant, which I am not).

And that a1 beta-casein has been implicated in AI diseases, but a2 has not.
And at least one source I found suggests that aging dairy (such as aged cheese), and fermenting the dairy could change the a1 casein and not cause as much damage.

Leading me to believe that if “tolerated” A2/and/or aged and fermented dairy would be “safe” for those with AI diseases.

But it still leaves me stumped on 2 issues:
1) free glutamic acid
b) Opiod receptors/opiods

I’ve read that cheese has a large concentration of free glutamic acid (something I’m still confused on — is it just a matter of not going over one’s personal thresh-hold? What about meat? Is it okay in certain forms? Is it so bad from Protein Powders? Doesn’t our stomach heat the proteins up and produce it any way?)

and then Opiod receptors. I can’t even form a logical question in regards to this, as it’s still all kind of foggy in my brain. But I guess I’ve read that dairy has opiods, it’s why babies fall asleep after drinking their mother’s milk. And so would this be another reason for adults to avoid all dairy?

*Breathe*

Sorry this is so long!

Woah. okay, so the answer to the lysozyme questions is “it’s possible”. It wouldn’t be transferring whole H. Pylori across, but potentially fragments from it which may further activate the immune system. But, I don’t know how big of an effect that would be compared to eating egg whites. It makes some more sense to me as a topical treatment, but I would be hesitant personally to take it myself. Some other biofilm disruptors to look for are lactoferrin and N-acetyl-cysteine.

As for the dairy issues, it’s not as black and white as other foods (especially when you’re talking about high quality grass-fed dairy, even a1) which is why it’s a little bit harder to find conclusive evidence one way or the other. Check out this post: http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/10/the-great-dairy-debate.html where I talk about the pros and cons in more detail. I do recommend eliminating it initially and then when symptoms improve trying it again. I think that especially full fat grass-fed dairy is a pretty nutritious food, so if it’s well tolerated I think it’s a good one to include. It is still insulinogenic, which might be a problem for some people. I’m not particularly worried about the free glutamic acid, unless you do experience those stimulant type symptoms when you have it, but the medical literature on free glutamic acid sensitivity is actually very inconclusive (as to whether it even exists). As for the opioids, beta-casomorphin in milk does interact with cells in the intestinal lining of the gut (and actually stimulates mucus production), but when you consume quality dairy and have a relatively healthy gut barrier, this is not getting into the blood stream so it can’t affect neurotransmitters in the brain. I suppose it might be different for someone with a severely leaky gut and severely hindered digestion, so it would definitely be good to omit it from your diet until you have the H Pylori eradicated and are well into healing your gut, but after that, I think it’s worth while trying to reintroduce.

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply! Very informative and helpful, and I am saving for future reference as well.

Do you know of any egg-free mayo recipes that work with the AIP diet? I don’t feel that I need to eat cooked eggs, but with so many of my usual sauce choices excluded for other reasons, I’m having a hard time letting go of mayo.

I came across this article because my mom probably needs to stop eating eggs… we know she has Hashimoto’s but she is also super fatigued and has extreme anxiety. She came to live with me 8 months ago and is so tired that she cannot cook for herself so that task is on me. I’ve got her eating mostly GAPS which is pretty close to Paleo but there are a few things she’ll need to remove to do AIP. She also has hypoglycemia and is extremely sensitive to carbohydrates, and her teeth are loose (she was in a very abusive situation for too many years and needs a lot of help to heal) so I have to figure out something for her to eat that she can chew, is low in carbs and it really needs to be easy for me to fix as well. I try to eat a high protein breakfast (feel my best when I start my day that way) and it’s a challenge for me to make sure I have something to eat every morning. She can’t eat the foods I can eat and she is willing to have her food pureed but doesn’t really enjoy eating baby food all the time… so it is a struggle to try to figure out what to make for breakfast with so few options and so many restrictions. Eggs are so easy. I wonder if we could just try scrambling egg yolks in the meantime while we figure out a solution. Anyway, I wanted to share with the previous commenter that I have a recipe for a “mayo dressing” which uses avocado to emulsify. The recipe calls for egg but you can omit it, it’s the second version on my recipe here: http://gapsdietjourney.com/2009/12/avocado-mayo-dressing/

VEry informative. How do you know when to try to reintroduce egg yolks and raw dairy, for example? I have eliminated the dairy for months and brought back with no symptoms of any kind. So, I think they are ok for me, but was thinking of doing your protocol again. How long would I need to do it for? I’m also wondering about raw cacao, and reintroducing that. I was surprised about awshwaghanda. I take that in my adrenal support to help with my low morning cortisol. But I have a great sensitivity to nightshades and don’t consume any nightshades or I have flareups. Should I eliminate my adrenal support? What will I take instead? Thanks for your advice and support.

My general recommendation is to wait to reintroduce until you feel substantially better. For some people that’s a month, for others it’s six. I would say 3-4 weeks at the bare minimum though. Sound like dairy is working for you. If you aren’t noticing symptoms with awshwaghanda, then there’s no good reason to stop. There aren’t really any adrenal support supplements formulated to be AIP-friendly at this time (you could do something like acai berry powder with extra magnesium for a homemade version. I think magnolia bark is often used in adrenal support supplements, and you could do that one on its own too).

Hi! I am on AIP (not 100% healed, but certainly 85% there) Recently, I feel noticeably better with egg yolks in my diet – is it ok to include them in the AIP ?

Thanks so much! I can’t tell you how helpful i have found your blog. Truly, life changing.

Really well written, thanks for the effort. I’m currently concerned about having an adequate choline intake, I want to get rid of my current source: Soy Lecithin (Legume), so I’ll be replacing it with egg yolk (lesser of two evils?). My only real concern with egg yolk is the high content of Arachidonic Acid but hopefully I can balance that out with fish oil EPA.

Hi Sarah,
I just tried eggs today for the first time in about 3 months and I didn’t get a headache like I used to but I am very itchy. It feels like itching from the inside of my skin if that makes sense? Would you agree that eggs are not going to be something I am going to be able to eat again? I was just curious if you had heard of these symptoms before from anyone else. Thanks for your help, I love your blog and read it daily.

Well, I would definitely agree that you should not now, and maybe try reintroductions again in 6 months. Itchy is definitely one of the more common food sensitivity symptoms.

Hi Sarah, I am ready to introduce egg yolks. If a recipe calls for 2 eggs, should I substitute 2 egg yolks or increase the amount,,, or would I need the whites to make the recipes work. There are so many recipes that call for eggs that I want to make… I would love your advise! Thank you!

Any ideas to use egg whites other than for food and skin and hair ? I have an extra raw egg white everyday. Egg whites on skin is not good, apparently so I won’t use it on my hair also:
https://www.byvalenti.com/blog/beauty/diy-egg-white-mask-and-why-is-so-bad-for-your-skin/
I’ve found dogs can eat raw egg whites though it’s better to feed them whole eggs, and I’ve read some people give small amounts of raw egg whites to their cats without problem though it’s advised not to feed them raw egg whites due to some problems.There are some street dogs I often see while walking to work but it won’t be easy to carry a raw egg white in my hand and I may often have to leave it around and it may get infected.

I guess we’ll be wasting a lot of egg whites for a good reason.

Hi Sarah,

Wondering if you can help shed some light on the egg issue for me. I’ve been AIP for 2.5 months now. Not diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but after SCD (as a pescatarian) for 1.5 years, then adding quality meat in and doing more traditional paleo for 6 months, I was still having a lot of GI symptoms plus brain fog and thought this would be a good thing to try out. My symptoms improved noticeably initially but have pretty much leveled off in their improvement since and are not getting any worse or better for the past month. I’d never considered eggs as a potential trigger, based on my own journaling and gut feeling, so I tried adding them back in last weekend. I was stoked to find no immediate gas pains, distension or diarrhea (my usual response to what I’m intolerant of). But then a couple days later, my skin broke out with about 5 blemishes (which isn’t totally unusual for me, historically happens every so often, but I realized when it happened that my skin had been pretty good for the last few while). I also feel not totally distended, but “thicker” than usual this week. I wonder if either of those symptoms could be related to the eggs? And, if so, how long should I wait until I go back and try just the yolks without whites?

And, if my symptom improvement isn’t still moving forward on AIP, should I assume it’s not right for me, or hang in longer? If the later, how long?

I’m wondering if my little one’s recent rash is from me introducing eggs back into my diet? I had not had any for 10 months, since he was born, b/c when i did, he would get green poops (indication of his reaction to the antibodies my body was producing I believe)… but for the past couple of months he hasn’t gotten green poops when I try eggs, but when i decided i was able to eat them (white and all) this past week, he got a bad rash on his bum :( Can this be related and is this an indication that he is allergic/sensitive to eggs too and I should wait to introduce them in HIS diet too?! Thank you sooo much!!

It could be, but the only way to know for sure is to repeat the experiment (cut eggs out and see if his rash goes away, add back in, see if it comes back). There’s lots of things that could be causing a rash so it’s really hard to know for sure (have you shown a doctor to make sure it’s not a yeast rash?)

Hi, I have multiple sclerosis and my last blood test showed high level of thyroid antibodies (not sure if it’s autoimune) and I’m frustrated to read that I cannot eat eggs anymore. My question is if make any difference to eat them cooked or raw. I’m avoiding gluten (not 100% free of gluten) and seeds. I also eat lot of things made by milk (milk cream, cheese, etc). This is also not good for people who has autoimune diseases? Or just need to avoid it if I’m alergical to eggs and milk? Thanks, Tatiana

Hi Sarah, Ive been doing some experimenting with eggs.I am one of those that can handle them in small amounts but have still not been able to figure out what that number is yet though. I had to wait till I healed up from the last time I experimented but dangit they got me again I think because I ate them in pure egg white form( which Im pretty sure was stupid now). I think I notice a connection now. I can handle egg yolks all the time but it seems I can even handle whole eggs much more than just the egg whites alone. Do egg yolks in some way bind the lysozome a bit more from crossing the gut barrier than if they were on their own?I now have just the ickiest feeling, I feel like I could punch a wall Im so irritated right now… and all from egg whites, but seems I was fine from the whole egg. Is this in my imagination or something or is their a scientific reason this might be? If you can shed light on this Id much appreciate it, thanks!

I don’t believe anything in the yolk interferes with the lysozyme. I suspect it could either be a dilution factor (eating the whole egg means you’re eating less white overall than if you ate something specifically made with whites) or related to the nutrient density of the yolk (lots of awesome vitamins and mineral, maybe helps regulate the immune system or heal faster). I also find that I’m great with yolks (actually feel better with them in my diet compared to not), and okay with whole eggs if I keep it to once, maybe twice, per week.

Thanks for the response. I never thought of it that way but that makes sense.Seems I react the same to them as you said you do also. Im going to try to keeping them to twice a week this time and see how it goes.When I first read this on here about whites I thought most likely I wouldn’t have a problem with them, but I sure know now that egg whites are gut rippers for me(or at least the pure egg whites).

Just wanted to say thank you for all the fantastic information on here, and for explaining everything so clearly! I have sort of done things in reverse, have almost put my MCTD into remission with ‘normal’ paleo minus nightshades. I find I have noticed changes in a sort of domino effect, and recently realised I get stomach pain after eating eggs, and get joint pain, irritability and then fall asleep every time I have sesame seeds. So now, after a lot of reading (because I really didn’t want to give up eggs lol) I am going that step further to the AIP to get rid of it completely. Bye bye eggs, nuts and seeds. Have ordered your book and can’t wait to receive it! I have seen 3 rheumatologists, public and private system in QLD Australia, all they have wanted to do is medicate me with chemotherapy drugs. Not one has even heard of the diet, nor believes diet could be a contributing factor to my recovery. So thanks again for the massive amount of work you have done, it is a great help and support when the medical system is not. :)

Hi Sarah,

Do you know if any digestive enzymes would break down or denature lysozyme? My son eats eggs everyday!He has been Dx’ed with Austim.He has some digestive issues and is on an SCD/Paleo type diet.I am just wondering if all these eggs could be problematic for him.If I had to cut eggs out it would be very difficult for us!

Lysozyme is one of the immunologic factors in breastmilk (alongside lactoferrin and IgA) and (according to studies I’ve included below) significantly modulates our gut microbiome (i.e. intestinal flora) to favor ‘healthy organisms’.over ‘bad organisms’

Here’s my question:
Do the ‘cons’ of consuming Lysozyme, you’ve stated, negate such significant ‘pros’? If so, why?

“…the abundance of bacteria associated with gut health (Bifidobacteriaceae and Lactobacillaceae) increased and the abundance of those associated with disease (Mycobacteriaceae, Streptococcaceae, Campylobacterales) decreased with consumption of lysozyme milk.”
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/228104008_Consumption_of_lysozyme-rich_milk_can_alter_microbial_fecal_populations

“Lysozyme displays fungicidal activity toward many fungi commonly identified in patients with CRS, as well as clinical fungi isolates cultured from the mucin of CRS patients. ”
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/51190309_Human_lysozyme_has_fungicidal_activity_against_nasal_fungi

http://aem.asm.org/content/78/17/6153.full

That’s a great observation. The newborn digestive tract is very different structurally from that of adults, and it is designed to be leaky. There are several compounds in milk designed to increase intestinal permeability to help transport nutrients and things like antibodies across the baby’s gut. This is a very different beast when you’re talking about breast milk for a newborn versus and adult digestive tract that is quite a different environment with far more potential pathogens and allergens. This may be why clinical trials with colostrum have yielded such mixed results. This also might explain why some people do great with eggs and others don’t.

This was a helpful explanation and another piece of the puzzle in allergies and autoimmune disorders. it would appear to be more of an issue for anyone who had a digestive tract disorder that somehow caused lesions in the mucosa membrane of the stomach compromising the mucosal immune system. The lysozyme allows the pathogens to attach to it to be carried into the blood stream. Will it also act as a host for bacterial proliferation or will this happen after it enters a healthy cell?

This seems to be one point of entry where the pathogens can infect any area of the body causing a number of autoimmune disorders and allergies. Could the lysozyme and the pathogen combined at this point cause the immune cells to improperly identify the pathogen? I’m going to guess at this stage cells with histamine would be produced attacking the wrong protein causing an allergic reaction while other other areas would continually produce inflammatory cytokines that antibodies have difficulty stopping because they can’t attach to an antigen.

Research and years of testing on hyperimmune egg proved many of these issues can be balanced by your immune system with the use of antibodies and cytokines produced by chickens which gets passed into the egg. i believe the yolk is used and not the white for our consumption. Majority of people who have used this have seen remarked improvement or elimination of all intestinal tract disorders and allergies. One last question;is it possible for allergies to continue with lets say lysozyme finding an alternative way into your body after the intestinal mucosa damage has healed?

The answer to your first question is that I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so. I think it is more likely to bind to bacterial wall fragments than live bacteria (since its normal job as part of bacterial defense is to lyse bacterial wall proteins). I think whether the immune system properly identifies a pathogen has more to do with the health of the immune cells, micronutrient sufficiency, etc. but definitely having this extra carrier molecule to get things that can stimulate the immune system into the body is not helpful when the immune system is already dysfunctional. If it is a true allergy, yes it is possible to continue after the gut barrier is repaired.

Is there a post you can link me to about the specific reactions one can have to foods such as eggs or almonds. I’ve been paleo just over a month, but lately I’ve been having strange stomach pains during the day accompanied by a hollow/bloated feeling. I know that’s a bit of an oxymoron, but that’s how it feels. I’m also experiencing occasional diarrhea which I was thrilled to be rid of by going paleo. Also – I’ve been having some sort of a rash (my guess is eczema) develop on the outside of my knees and my left elbow since the summer. It waxes and wanes from time to time but seems to be getting worse since the previous symptoms arose. Every morning I’ve been having (along with other things) 3 eggs and an almond milk/fruit smoothie. I just introduced almonds into my diet when I started paleo, I never liked them before. It seems even when I eat mixed nuts (Almonds, pistachios, & cashews) later in the day I end up with the same reaction, but I’m still wondering about the eggs as well.
Thanks in advance!

Food sensitivities or allergies can be different for everyone. Rash, headache, cramping, … there are so many ways your body can exhibit sensitivity. You can read about why nuts and seeds are excluded in the AIP here: http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/09/the-whys-behind-the-autoimmune-protocol-nuts-and-seeds.html You can read general information about the AIP here: http://www.thepaleomom.com/autoimmunity/the-autoimmune-protocol All of these things are discussed in detail in The Paleo Approach. — Tamar, Sarah’s assistant

The lysozyme in eggs can travel through the lining of the gut, often picking up harmful bacterial proteins along the way. In this way, eggs contribute to leaky gut AND autoimmune problems. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Thank you for the clear explanation! I’m a science geek, too, and always look to see if there is some science behind what I’m doing to heal myself. Been on this AI journey for almost 4 years. I have been able to avoid heavy-duty drugs for RA by watching what I eat – yes, it can bring you to tears sometimes about food, and friends and family. But I remind myself that I feel so much better and my inflammation markers are very low.

I stumbled on your blog looking for new recipes, and ended up ordering your book. Looking forward to reading it. I still have some health improvement targets, and hope to learn a little more on this journey.

One thing people might not realize is that digestive enzymes sometimes have lysozyme in them. I just looked at the enzymes my doctor prescribed, and sure enough, it contains lysozyme. Just ordered a different brand, will ditch eggs for a while and see if there is a link to some of my recurring symptoms.

Have you done any research on different kinds of eggs? What about turkey, duck, or quail eggs? Chemically speaking, are they the same?

Hi. I’ve been on Paleo Diet for 2 years and have eliminated everything except eggs. I am suffering from Interstitial Cystitis, Sjogrens and other rare neurological conditions. I just had an IGE test and was told I had allergy to egg white. I assume I should stop eating eggs now? What is your opinion on the IGE test result and continuing consumption? Since, I’ve given everything else up I guess I will need to start the autoimmune protocol and give it a chance.

So is it possible to bake only with the egg yolk? How does this affect the texture of paleo baked goods? Are there recipes?

Yes, you can just bake with egg yolk, but it does dramatically change the chemistry of baking, so it’s not an easy substitution. The only recipes that I have that use egg yolk only are ice creams.

Hello, I didn’t read all article (english is my second language) but doesn’t enzymes ”dies” at higher than 45 C temperature? so basicly if we boil them, those enzymes disappear?

I gave up the eggs and have been on the strict AIP after reading your book. I have noticed no difference in how I feel or my pain level. I was hoping for a quicker result as I have been strict Paleo for 2.5 years. I’ll continue on the journey hoping and praying that this way of eating will eventually heal me. In my heart, I know it is the right thing to do. And, I could never go back to a SAD diet anyway just because I love real food now.

How long have you been on the AIP? Sarah recommends at least 30-90 days to give it time to work before troubleshooting, but there is an excellent troubleshooting guide in the back of her book to help you figure out why it may not be yielding results for you. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

[…] 2-3% af befolkningen er allergiske overfor æg. Æggehviden har bl.a. den funktion at beskytte blommen mod angreb fra mikrober, mens fostret vokser. Det gør den ved hjælp af enzymer, der opdeler proteiner i kortere kæder af aminosyrer, så de bliver inaktive. Teorien er, at har man allergier eller autoimmune sygdomme, skal man være særlig opmærksom på det enzym, der hedder lysozym. Dette kan nemlig forme stærke komplekser med andre proteiner, som ikke kan fordøjes, men passerer gennem tarmvæggen og ud i blodbanen. Det er ikke lyzozym i sig selv som er skadeligt, men de proteiner, det bringer med sig, eksempelvis proteiner fra E. coli. Det siger sig selv, at stoffer som burde udskilles som afføring, ikke bør ledes ud i blodet. Det er meget kort fortalt teorien. Læs mere her. […]

I’ve been wondering if eggs are an issue for me for a while. I have bouts of diarrhea on occasion, usually late morning, and often coinciding with consumption of eggs. After a few days not eating them, I had a couple for breakfast earlier this week. Lo and behold, I started getting the old rumble in the tummy. I was just wondering this morning if maybe eggs were the culprit, since in the three days following my intestinal distress, I’ve been fine (and no eggs). Since I’ve eaten eggs all my life with no issues, I think I am in denial (because, let’s face it…they are darn tasty).

I guess it is possible to develop an allergy or sensitivity to foods that I haven’t had problems with in the “younger” years, eh?

This is my first time to your website, and I just feel so discouraged and down. I do appreciate your devotion, but I am at the point of defeat. I am battling Hashimoto’s and have been for about 4 years now. I 100% believe in Biblical Creation, not evolution (and don’t care what people think, there is an infinite amount of information about it, scientifically backed and based), so I have avoided the “paleo” movement because God gave us food for a reason. I know though, that we can really screw stuff up, as evidenced in the Bible and in everyday life. I screwed my body up badly during years of a horrible diet, drinking, drugs, birth control and other destructive behaviors, so I know this is a consequence of living that way. I have been gluten free for almost a year, and it has definitely helped, but I’m still very ill. I don’t want this to be normal, as it has seemingly become. While I do not believe in macro-evolution at all, I do think this approach to diet could be helpful. But, after reading this article, I feel like I’m so limited in what I could eat that it’s almost not even worth the effort. I already have opposition from my family just for being gluten free (as if I’m doing it for a trend) and eating whole foods. Not my immediate family, I should note. My husband is the most supportive person in my life, ever. And no coffee??? That just makes me sad. Sorry…don’t mean to rant, just feeling very frustrated. I eat eggs every day…it’s a main source of quick and cheap protein for me! And…no coffee??!! I don’t even know how I would be able to sustain this way of eating.

Jennifer, I am an atheist so I can’t relate to your “religious” dilemma. However, I have been very ill and disabled for over 13 years. I will do anything to make my body better! Anything!!!! And, eating a whole based diet with healthy foods only makes sense. Whether evolution created them or GOD, the healthy whole “real” foods are here on earth for our partaking.

I have been AIP and incorporating Wahls Protocol for 2 years now. I’m still ill, and know that I still probably have a long way to healing. I’m 52, and I could live another 52 and I can’t imagine being in pain and not being able to walk for the rest of my life.

Giving up coffee and eggs are nothing in your life if it could make you feel better! And, don’t worry about what other people think including your family. Do what is best for you and your body. If you believe in God, you know that he didn’t create birth control pills, drugs, and unhealthy processed foods that you already mentioned having done to your body. So, because the word “Paleo” refers to our history that you don’t believe in, you would rather continue a destructive pattern of eating to ensure your belief system?

I’m certain you want to be around for your husband and family in the future. So go forward and do whatever you need to do to get healthy. You don’t have to call your way of eating Paleo. Sean Croxton always says ERF – Eat Real Food.

Here is a website link that may be helpful to you. As there are some others with your thought pattern. http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/can-a-christian-follow-a-paleo-low-carb-diet/9381

Take care. And, let us know how you deal with this dilemma.

Jennifer, hang in there! Please, don’t get caught up on a label. Call the diet whatever you want, it’s not a faith statement or a political movement, it’s about taking care of your body…the one God gave you. Like Carol said, if you believe in God, it’s not like God created the processed foods, drugs, etc. that do harm to our bodies. How about this: how can you fulfill God’s plan for you if you’re not healthy? There are many “Paleo” bloggers that declare their Christian faith on their site, and many others who declare a different belief or prefer to keep those things private. Keep searching and you will find something of everything. This website is wonderful because it’s about finding and searching for an diet plan that works for your health individual needs. It is hard to jump in to the AIP at first, but after you start feeling better, you will wonder why it took you so long. And the coffee dilemma….that’s a hard one that I have yet to conquer….I just try to drink less:)

Allow me to add a wrinkle. Seeing as most eggs are from hens that are fed soy and/or corn (both of which are now 90% likely to have GMO’s) it may be THOSE that are the problem. I do have an autoimmune problem that got better when I gave up eggs and nuts. HOWEVER, I was able to bring eggs back in, when I use pasture ONLY chicken raised hens for eggs, or soy free fed chickens for eggs. Hard to find. Expensive. And I probably eat to many of them, but they don’t seem to both me. Still can’t eat nuts, though, damnit! I can eat seeds, like pumpkin seeds and sesame, though. Can’t complain. Healthier than I would have been without knowing all this stuff. Anyway, that’s MY experience.

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