I don't want to hastily broadcast what may amount to just another alarmist food warning, but there is some interesting new information about egg whites that may concern you. If, like me, you are watching your diet carefully to restore your health then this information could be very important. Eggs are, in general, a nutritious food. They are a good source of selenium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, B vitamins and a few essential minerals. Despite this, scientists and doctors have long thought eggs and specifically egg yolks were bad for you. This lead most of us to eat only egg whites, thinking they are better. We would not be wrong, considering nutritionists and dieticians have long promoted egg whites to body builders and athletes in part because of the high amounts of protein found in egg whites.
A recent study has raised some concerns about egg whites particularly within the context of autoimmune diseases. This is of concern to me as the leaky gut syndrome is similarly affected.
Food proteins that trigger an autoimmune disease all have three specific criteria. They survive the digestive tract in one piece. They cross the walls of the intestines in one piece or attached to other proteins. Once they cross the gut barrier, they mingle with the immune system and trigger autoimmune diseases and allergies. Egg whites may very well meet these criteria.
The egg white’s key concern is an innocent protein called lysozyme. It helps to breakdown the cell membrane bacteria it encounters by dissolving the cell walls. Alone it is fine and poses no significant threat, in fact human tears carry this protein. When ingested, lysozyme moves freely between the walls of the intestines and is virtually indigestible. When it is mixed in with other proteins found in egg whites some potential problems begin to arise.
Egg white proteins such as ovastatin, ovamucin, and proteoglycan are foreign to our bodies. Traveling through our digestive tract, they could potentially hitch a free ride with the lysozyme protein as it may move freely through the gut wall. Once these attach to the lysozyme protein, they create a complex compound able to survive the digestive enzymes in the gut. The lysozyme protects these foreign proteins and bacteria as the compound permeates the wall of the intestine with the help of a sugar that binds a gut receptor carrying into the blood stream and into circulation. Note too, that the lysozyme attracts bacterial cells from the gut wall, allowing these peptides to tag along into circulation, almost Trojan horse style.
These invaders can then activate a process called molecular mimicry, causing the immune system to be unable to tell the difference from self-proteins and foreign proteins. In time the immune system begins to attack the body’s healthy tissues. A diet featuring these foreign proteins may chronically stimulate our immune system to attack our bodies, leading to inflammation, allergies and a host of autoimmune diseases.
The best way to reverse these ill effects should you experience them is to change what you eat to heal your leaky gut. Consider adopting the Autoimmune Protocol Diet to heal your gut and calm your immune system down. The diet is a short-term commitment of 30-90 days and is essentially an elimination diet. The diet has you remove any food proteins that leak into your blood stream through the walls of your intestines. It is very restrictive and requires a lot of vigilance and preparation. Eggs, both the white and the yolk are a top contender for elimination.
After 30-90 days, start reintroducing these foods in stages. Reintroduced the egg yolk first and then the egg white. If your body reacts poorly after reintroducing eggs, it is best to eliminate them for good. If you are one of the lucky ones with a healthy gut, then eggs are not an issue for you. You can enjoy them within moderation like most everything else.