There are two separate parts of an egg, both of which have two very different jobs. It is the egg white in particular, that contains the lysozyme enzyme, of which is present to protect the from specific, intruding bacteria. However, this strong act of defense does not get taken away when cooked or ingested, causing a problem within a compromised body. When ingested, lysozyme will connect with proteins and their fragments (some of which are present in the egg white itself), forming a compound that can not be digested by the protease enzyme in our digestive track. However, the problem with lysozyme does not only come from compounds present in the egg, but also its special ability to “pick up” other proteins from the various bacteria present in our gut. Together, with the extra proteins attached to the lysozyme enzyme, as well as its handy enzyme inhibitors (ovomucoid, ovinhibitor, ovostatin, and cystatin), it is able to get through the gut barrier and enter into the bodies circulatory system. This interesting quality of lysozyme is due to the fact that it is of positive charge, causing an electrostatic attraction to the negatively charged proteins found in intestinal epithelial cells, of which are some of the main regulators in one’s intestinal track. Because of this strong attraction between the opposing charges of lisozyme and the cells that control the integrity of our gut, lisozyme, and all of its proteins that are tagging a long for the ride, are able to rapidly absorb into the blood stream. Due to the time that lisozyme spent in the GI tract, picking up various bacterial, food, and egg white proteins, its appearance of a large, indestructible molecule in the blood stream, is not welcomed by the body. Instead, immune responses are stimulated, causing the body to attack itself, the main contributor behind a given autoimmune disease.
After on learns the interesting nature of the lisozyme enzyme present in egg whites, it is rather clear as to why one would want to avoid them if they are experiencing autoimmunity. With the Autoimmune Protocol eliminating all pro-inflammatory foods from one’s diet, eggs are inevitably one of the first to go. However, this is not to say that one will not ever be able to eat eggs again, as once the immune responses are regulated and under control, the problems that come with consuming eggs may no longer be present. For that reason, egg yolks are one of the first in the reintroduction phases of AIP, of which are later followed by the entire egg (white included). As for my own experience, eggs were first very friendly to me in my journey with Chronic Lyme Disease, and I thoroughly enjoyed them as morning an omelette. However, as the severity of my illness grew, so did the number of histamine-induced food allergies, due to increased intestinal permeability (i.e. leaky gut) from various, additional parasitic, protozoa, and bacterial infections. Therefore, it was not long before symptoms arising from the consumption of eggs became very noticeable, leading me to slowly eliminate them from my diet completely. Of course, skipping eggs for breakfast is not an easy thing to do, and can send those used to their morning omelette for a spin. However, this is where I learned to incorporate white fish into my morning routine. It may not sound very appetizing at first, but baking, broiling, or poaching fish can be a great addition to your morning meal, as is it one of the most easily digested proteins available. Not only that, but some of the most affordable types of fish are also the most nutrient dense, of which include oily, cold water fish such as wild sardines, herring, salmon, and anchovies. If you are having trouble getting over the act, or even thought, of consuming fish in the mornings, it can be helpful to start out with smoked varieties as they tend to be more palatable, especially when topped with a squeeze of citrus. Overall, avoiding eggs can seem like a pain at the beginning of the Autoimmune-Paleo Protocol, however, it is certainly necessary in regaining the integrity of one’s entire body when experiencing autoimmunity. To learn more on how to use diet and lifestyle to manage an autoimmune condition, make sure to check out The Paleo Mom, and her book, The Paleo Approach.