Egg Allergies and Sensitivities | The Paleo Diet®
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How to Be Paleo When You Can’t Eat Eggs

By Aimee McNew, Lifestyle writer
October 25, 2020
Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock.com Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock.com

It’s hard to beat the nutritional powerhouse that are eggs.

They’re rich in selenium, B2, and B12, and offer balanced amounts of healthy fats and protein. Plus, they’re quick and easy to prepare, and they fit well into your grocery budget.

Unfortunately, eggs aren’t on the menu for everyone. They’re the second most recurrent food allergen (after cow’s milk), and egg allergies are especially common in children.

So what happens when you can’t eat eggs, a nutrient-dense staple of The Paleo Diet®?

Egg allergies vs. sensitivities

It's common for eggs to trigger allergies. Negative reactions include hives, eczema, runny nose, vomiting, and even anaphylaxis. These are caused by Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody made by the immune system in response to something that it recognizes as a threat.

People can have IgE allergies to different things, but there are some common foods that become allergenic. Egg allergies are more common in babies and younger children, and many will outgrow IgE allergies by the time they are old enough to attend school. [1]

Thankfully, about 70 percent of those with egg allergies are able to digest eggs in baked goods without reaction. Not only does heat deactivate some element of the IgE response, but its presence in baked goods, with multiple other ingredients, decreases the digestibility of the allergenic proteins and makes it harder for IgE-bound reactions to happen. [2]

You don’t have to be allergic to eggs, however, to have trouble digesting them. While there’s little research on “egg sensitivity,” it is possible to have non-IgE reactions to eggs due to a gut-based inflammatory response or because of dietary histamines (which egg whites can release). [3]

Since most people with egg allergies are sensitive to proteins found in the egg whites, those with sensitivities may be able to eat the yolks. However, children who have IgE allergies to eggs shouldn’t consume yolks, because they could still contain enough of the white to lead to an allergic reaction.

If you eat eggs and experience stomach upset, bloating, gas, or other abnormal digestive responses, you may be struggling to digest them. You can get a blood test to find out if your reaction is due to an allergy, or you can see an allergist to determine if your response is related to histamines.

If you’re truly allergic, you shouldn’t eat eggs at all. If you’re sensitive or know that your issue is due to histamines, you can take a break for a few months and try again, or you can consider adding a digestive enzyme, which might help your body digest them better.

What to eat when you can’t eat eggs

Eggs contain a great combination of healthy fat and protein, but they aren’t the only sources. If you are allergic or need to take a break from eggs, there are many other foods that you can turn to with a similar nutritional profile. These include:

  • Almonds, cashews, and other tree nuts (and their butters)
  • Salmon, sardines, and other tinned fish
  • Jerky or dehydrated meat with guacamole

And here are some quick and easy meals you can make:

It should be noted that these snacks do not have the exact macronutrient composition of eggs, or that we like to see on The Paleo Diet (i.e. 62 percent fat, 35 percent protein). However, they can serve as a reasonable substitute.

Yes, eggs are a great Paleo food, but if you need to skip them, with a little planning and research you can still enjoy a full, well-rounded Paleo Diet.

References:

  1. Kim J. H. (2019). Clinical and Laboratory Predictors of Egg Allergy Resolution in Children. Allergy, asthma & immunology research, 11(4), 446–449. https://doi.org/10.4168/aair.2019.11.4.446
  2. Miranda, J. M., Anton, X., Redondo-Valbuena, C., Roca-Saavedra, P., Rodriguez, J. A., Lamas, A., Franco, C. M., & Cepeda, A. (2015). Egg and egg-derived foods: effects on human health and use as functional foods. Nutrients, 7(1), 706–729. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7010706
  3. Caubet, J. C., & Wang, J. (2011). Current understanding of egg allergy. Pediatric clinics of North America, 58(2), 427–xi. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcl.2011.02.014

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