3.31.20 Let's Talk About Eggs

Eggs: the ups and downs

I thought with all the constant talk about COVID-19 maybe we should give ourselves a break and take a little dive into a food many of us eat daily!

Some people love eggs, some people have to cook them until their solid all the way through, some people are sensitive to them. I started thinking about eggs when I cracked these open for my lunch today. The dark yellow/orange one is from a chicken owned by one of my husband's coworkers. The pale yellow one was our typical, cheap, plain grocery store one, no claims made on it. So I did some research which I will share, and then I have some theories and opinions as well!

Research shows the following per 100 g:

Cage/conventional egg per USDA nutrient database:

Vitamin E - 0.97 mg

Vitamin A - 487 IU

Beta carotene - 10 mcg

Omega 3 - 0.22 g

Free range egg average per Mother Earth News:

Vitamin E- 3.73 mg

Vitamin A - 791.86 IU

Beta carotene - 79.03 mcg

Omega 3 - 0.66 g

Other studies show similar results though it varies some. Some claim that HDL cholesterol is higher and LDL lower in free range, but I found conflicting results on that.

Most simply, the biggest take away for our average consumer is info on Omegas. Studies seem to agree that Omega 6s are higher in conventional eggs (inflammatory) where as Omega 3s are higher in free range (ANTI-inflammatory). That's important to know as our average diets contain a 1:16 omega 3:omega 6. Ancient diets show us that a ratio closer to 1:1 is much more healthy. This is very hard to do in our modern diets so taking a good quality fish oil supplement can help us get more anti-inflammatory benefit. But why not simply get free range eggs to help as well!

Vitamin D, as well as B vitamins, lutein, and zeaxanthin, can also be higher in eggs laid by chickens that are outside and eating bugs and able to do normal chicken activities.

Let's also talk about terminology for just a minute: (based on Authors: Sunny Brower, Jillian Dorsey, Kate Malvetti with Julie M. Fagan, Ph.D in their article "Taste and Nutritional Differences of Non-Factory Farmed vs. Factory Farmed Eggs and Poultry" as well as various articles/videos in the past.)

Cage/conventional: the chicken that laid this egg was raised in a cage the size of two dishpans stacked on top of each other. It's beak was most likely clipped and the food they are fed is pretty much nutrient-void corn.

Organic: By itself means nothing more than that their food was raised organic and they were not given hormones.. Maybe slightly more nutrient dense and less pesticides? But living conditions are not part of the organic claim.

Cage free: this chicken was probably inside all of its life but does have space to move around (with fear of getting stepped on by 100,000 other chickens). It is able to feed (same nutrient-void corn) and water as needed, may have the option to roost as chickens prefer to do, and basically had the opportunity to pursue a few of a chicken's normal behaviors.

Free-range: This one is tricky. The USDA says farmers can claim 'free range' if the chickens have the opportunity to go outside. This may be a few square feet of mud per 1,000s of chickens. While some companies get by with the minimum, others may truly have a good program for getting the chickens outside for a portion of the day where conditions could vary from said mud to a green pasture with plenty of space to scratch in the dirt, catch bugs, eat some rocks, flap around and do chicken stuff. Research your farm to know their practices.

Pasture raised: From my understanding this where it's at. This is claiming that chickens are put in a pasture for at least a portion of the day, where hopefully conditions are conducive to all normal chicken behaviors. I'm picturing green grass, fresh water, bugs, dust for baths, roosts, hay, pebbles. Once again, research your farm to know what the actual conditions are.

Now for some personal opinion!

I think eggs are seriously one of the best whole foods, providing the chicken that laid it is a happy, healthy chicken raised the way a chicken should be. They have great fats and are a good source of protein. They have important vitamins for energy, co-factors for calcium absorption, antioxidants for eye and skin health. But we must address the fact that some people just can't tolerate them. (In the sense that their digestive system is reactive to them.) What are we going to do about that? These people would greatly benefit from this easy to prepare, nutrient dense, whole food!

My suggestion would be to eliminate eggs and all other foods that are causing inflammation and making the digestive track too permeable. (This can be stress and chemicals as well.) Then we work on sealing the gut, calming the immune system, and supporting digestion so foods are broken down to the small particles they should be by the time they get to the small intestine.

(If stomach acid, enzymes, or bile is low, food particles are not going to be broken down enough for the small intestine to continue digestion. This will cause damage to the villi and these larger particles of food force their way through the intestine wall where the immune system attacks, foreign invaders! and we have any number of reactions: headaches, fatigue, bloating, rashes, achy joints...)

...where were we?

So we support digestion making sure food is broken down and not irritating the intestines. A food should be avoided at least 60 days and ideally 90 - 120. By this time, the digestive tract should be entirely regenerated and immune system reset. Introduce the eggs back into the diet, being sure to have only safe foods with it. This will be the only change made for at least 72 hours - record any symptoms that come up. Be sure to get a pasture raised, organic egg to try!

My theory is that it might not be so much the egg itself causing the problem, but more what the chicken ate. Are you going to go eat spoonfuls of highly processed soy and GMO corn? The chicken does its best to take these sub-par ingredients and make something beautiful and good for us! But like we say for humans "we are what we digest" and the chicken can only make an egg as good as the food it is fed and the environment it is raised in.

Please eat ALL of the egg if you can! Yes, there's more protein in the whites, but the yolk (that sunshine in edible form) is a simple nutrient dense food in the package ready to go.

A note on dietary cholesterol: don't worry about it! If your cholesterol is high (which more and more people's are because they keep lower the ranges), you most likely have other inflammation going on that is causing your body to make more cholesterol to help your body repair itself. Your body will continue to make that cholesterol whether you have no dietary cholesterol or 6 eggs a day. (Some conclusions after reading "Put Your Heart in Your Mouth" by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride.)

Do yourself a favor, buy good eggs! Make sure you're digesting them (and all your other food) well, and enjoy eggs every day!

Thanks for listening and please feel free to pass this on to anyone who might enjoy it!