Written by Jennifer Berry on February
A person who has an egg intolerance is unable to digest eggs. This inability can result in various symptoms, including bloating, cramps, nausea, or diarrhea.
Although an egg intolerance is not typically dangerous, it can be uncomfortable and bothersome.
If a person has an egg intolerance, they may need to avoid eating eggs or only consume small amounts. However, egg alternatives are available to help people find a replacement.
This article will cover the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for an egg intolerance. It will also provide information for egg alternatives, as well as ingredients that a person should avoid.
Symptoms of an egg intolerance may include:
- stomach pain or cramps
According to experts, symptoms of food allergies and intolerances are different.
Egg intolerance is not life threatening. However, a severe food allergy can be.
It is important to see a doctor if a person thinks they may have an egg allergy.
If someone experiences symptoms of anaphylactic shock, they should seek emergency medical help.
Symptoms of anaphylactic shock may include:
- abdominal pain
- rapid heartbeat
Egg allergy vs. intolerance
An egg intolerance and an egg allergy are different conditions.
An egg intolerance involves the digestive system, whereas an egg allergy involves the immune system.
Food intolerance happens when the body is unable to digest certain components in food.
People who have an egg intolerance may not be able to digest the egg whites or yolks, or both.
With an intolerance, a person may experience digestive problems hours after consuming the offending food item. While the symptoms may be uncomfortable, they are not typically dangerous.
People may not know they have an egg intolerance because their symptoms may not appear right after eating eggs. Or, they may not get any symptoms at all when they eat small amounts of egg.
With an egg allergy, a person’s immune system treats eggs as an invader. As a result, it releases powerful chemicals when the body comes into contact with eggs.
An egg allergy can cause severe and sometimes life threatening symptoms. Symptoms of an egg allergy can appear within half an hour of exposure.
With an allergy, a person may experience a reaction after consuming small amounts of egg. They may also have a reaction from touching eggs or inhaling particles in the air.
There are currently no approved tests for egg intolerance. While tests can diagnose egg allergies, it is more difficult to diagnose egg intolerances.
A person may be able to identify whether they have an egg intolerance by keeping a food diary.
A food diary can include information such as:
- everything a person eats and drinks
- the date, time, and type of digestive problems they experience
- any medications they take
Keeping a diary for several days or weeks enables a person to look for a connection between specific foods and symptoms.
If someone is concerned that they have an egg intolerance, they may wish to avoid eggs entirely for a while and see if the symptoms go away. If symptoms return after consuming eggs, it may indicate that they have an intolerance.
Keeping a food diary may have other benefits as well.
Some evidence suggests that people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may benefit from avoiding certain foods if they are intolerant to them.
Identifying egg products
If a person is trying to avoid eggs altogether, they may wish to read the labels on food products before consuming them.
These are some common food ingredients that contain eggs:
- egg whites, dried eggs, egg yolks, or powdered eggs
One way to be sure a product is egg-free is to look for products that are certified vegan. If a product is vegan, it will not include eggs or any other animal products.
As eggs are a common food allergen, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to list them on the label.
If a person needs to avoid eggs entirely, there are alternatives.
Tofu is a high protein food made from soybeans. People may use tofu in place of eggs for breakfast or in sandwiches, scambling it or blending it into smoothies.
Try this recipe for southwest tofu scramble.
Unsweetened applesauce and pureed fruit
Applesauce and other pureed fruits, such as banana, can be a replacement for eggs in baking.
The pectin in fruits can effectively replace animal fats. It can act as an emulsifier, filler, stabilizer, thickener, and a gelling agent.
Try this recipe for a chocolate layer cake, using unsweetened applesauce.
Flax or chia seeds
Flax or chia seeds mixed with water can replace the eggs in baking.
Combine 1 tablespoon of seeds with 2.5 tablespoons of water to replace one egg. Let it sit 5 minutes to allow it to combine before adding to the recipe.
Try this recipe to replace eggs with chia seeds.
Vegan egg replacers
Manufacturers make egg replacers from plant-based starches, soy, nuts, or seeds.
A person can purchase egg replacers in stores and online here.
Aquafaba, which is the liquid that results from cooking chickpeas and other legumes, can replace egg whites.
People can use aquafaba as a replacement for egg whites.
Try this recipe for vegan meringues.
Eggs are a good source of protein and other nutrients.
If a person must avoid eggs, they should be sure their diet includes other sources of essential nutrients. People who avoid certain foods or who follow a special diet should see a doctor or nutritionist to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
When to see a doctor
People should speak to a doctor if they suspect they have an egg intolerance.
Their doctor may recommend tests or an elimination diet to find out if eggs or other foods are causing digestive problems.
Digestive problems such as bloating, stomach cramps, or diarrhea can be a sign of other health problems. Talking to a doctor to rule out other health conditions may be helpful if these problems are ongoing.
A person should always seek emergency care for any allergic reactions, such as swelling, trouble breathing, itching, and hives, as these symptoms can quickly become severe.
Egg intolerance is not life threatening, but it can interfere with everyday living.
Avoiding eggs and eating a balanced diet can prevent symptoms and let someone feel their best.
Reading the ingredient labels on packaging and using egg replacers and alternatives can help avoid eggs and egg products.