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Food or Poison?

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2011-10-12

For the past few nights I’ve been more tired than usual. I considered the change in weather ~ its gotten cold and rainy in Portland. I wondered if it was growing pains ~ there are many things demanding consideration and modification in my life right now. And then, tonight, I discovered what could be a third culprit. . . lysozyme from egg whites.

I should probably back up a bit here. Eggs are a near perfect food. I’m a huge fan of their inclusion in the diet whenever possible. Eggs are rich in selenium, vitamin A, vitamin D, the B vitamins (including choline which is hard to find elsewhere in our diet and is so important for brain health), select minerals and the much needed omega-3 fatty acids.

That’s the sunny side of eggs. Unfortunately those assets have gotten a little scrambled in my body. For one, I have a somewhat pronounced sensitivity to eggs. My immune system launches a mild attack in their presence. The effects are nothing severe. They present as a chronic nausea that was apparent without fail each time I tried to add eggs back into my diet. (And I tried! I wanted that near perfect food.)

And then there is the issue of the lysozyme in the egg whites.

In an egg, the egg white has several functions. It provides the storage and transport of nutrients for the embryo, located in the yolk. It also uses enzymes to protect the yolk against microbial attack.

Lysozyme are one of those protective enzymes. They’re a proteolytic enzyme, which simply means that they help break down proteins.

Sadly, lysozyme, along with some of the other proteins found in the egg white, can be challenging on the gut. If someone has what’s called a leaky gut, the lysozymes could lead to increased permeability. And if there is any issue of immune disregulation, as in autoimmune scenarios like Hashimoto’s, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and the many others, then maintaining the integrity of the gut lining is paramount.

Not only do I have a pronounced sensitivity to eggs, but I also discovered within the last year that I have autoimmune thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease.
So what’s an egg doing on my plate anyway?

It wasn’t. It was in a capsule. I recently received some digestive enzyme samples from one of my preferred supplement providers. They’re actually one of the best suppliers at making allergen-free supplements ~ gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free. . . but there it was on the label of the enzymes I’ve been swallowing for the past few days. . . “lysozymes from egg whites”.

Ironically, on Thursday morning I’ll be speaking about Why One Woman’s Food Can Be Another Woman’s Poison. I’ll be chatting with my clever colleague Nina Price in her free online telesummit, Cracking the Midlife Code. The egg is the perfect example of that paradox.

My fatigue could be caused by the change in weather. It could be the extra life challenges I’m experiencing at the moment. But then again, it could be the consumption of just a bit of lysozyme, something corrupt for my body and its needs. While I’ll likely never know the true cause, I do know I won’t be swallowing those pills anymore. And I’ll be contacting that supplement company to discuss my concerns.
Lesson (re)-learned: Read every label. Always.


Andrea Nakayama, Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner and Educator | Holistic Nutrition Lab

What else is on my plate this month?

Chocolate Bean Butterr
A brand new favorite from one of my favorites. . . Ricki Heller from Diet, Dessert & Dogs.
Chocolate Zucchini Smoothie
OK, there might be a bit of a chocolate theme this month! It is the month of Halloween, after all.
Zucchini Chips
I’m still seeing lots of zucchini in the co-ops and at the markets. Get some of these chips in before these green goodies disappear!
Red Pepper and Pistachio Curried Shrimp
I replaced the milk with coconut milk and with the new fish market just across the street, this was an easy and delicious quick-fix dinner that didn’t require much planning or prep.

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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