Does eating eggs cause you endless constipation and what can you do to end it the suffering and discomfort once and for all?
No matter how you like yours, eggs are a staple and dietary mainstay for millions of Americans.
Scrambled, over easy, boiled, or poached, there are so many ways to enjoy eggs.
During holidays, many people love the taste of Egg Nog, made with raw uncooked eggs.
In terms of nutrition, one large egg has (1):
- 72 calories.
- 6,3 grams of protein.
- 5 grams of fat.
- 211 mg of cholesterol.
But for some people, eggs are a source of gas, bloating, and constipation.
We’ll look at the effects that constipation has on your body. We’ll discuss the reasons why you get constipated when you eat eggs, show you how to determine if you have an egg allergy, and give you some ideas to reduce the side effects of eggs.
Constipation and Your Health
Doctors and health care professionals will tell you that you should have one to three bowel movements each day because good elimination is the key to a healthy digestive system.
Anything less means you may be constipated.
According to WebMD, some of the symptoms of constipation include(2):
- Abdominal pain and swelling.
- Hard stools.
- Straining during a bowel movement.
Less than one movement per week is severe constipation and may require intervention.
However, if you have less than three movements in a week, you should consider doing something to relieve constipation.
Why is constipation bad for you?
When stool, or fecal matter, gets backed up in your intestines and the digestive system it can produce harmful bacteria that cause allergy symptoms, gas and bloating, and food sensitivities.
It can also lead to yeast overgrowth which causes vaginal yeast infections and fungal infections of the skin.
You may already know that there is a link between nutrition and constipation.
But sometimes, following the conventional wisdom is not enough. If you maintain a healthy diet and still have inflammation, pain, and leaky gut symptoms, you could have an undiagnosed food intolerance to things like corn, dairy products, gluten-containing grains, or eggs.
If you think that eggs are the culprit, keep reading to find out how eggs affect your digestive system and what you can do to alleviate constipation caused by eggs.
Do Eggs Cause Constipation?
Eggs are a high protein, vitamin packed, nutrient rich food that provides many health benefits.
Eggs are a staple in many homes. They are frequent, if not daily, the main dish in many American breakfasts.
They are also a primary ingredient in many recipes. If you’re thinking about changing your breakfast routine to eliminate eggs or looking for modified recipes that don’t require eggs, you’re in for some good news.
Eggs, by themselves, may not be the direct source of your constipation.
However, eggs may indirectly contribute to constipation. Here are three reasons why eating eggs is associated with constipation.
1. Eggs have no fiber
They’re also very filling thanks to the high fiber content.
Some people choose to put more eggs on their breakfast plate and choose less whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that supply dietary fiber.
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 25 grams of fiber daily on the standard 2,000 calorie diet.(3)
Fiber not only helps to prevent constipation, it is also essential in preventing digestive system diseases like diverticulitis.
You could be suffering from constipation, not because you eat a lot of eggs but, because you decrease the necessary fiber intake to make room for more eggs.
2. Eggs are often eaten along with high fat foods
Consistently eating high fat diet can lead to constipation and cancel out the benefits of getting the proper amount of dietary fiber.
One of the primary issues with a high fat diet is that it can lead to gastroparesis.
The Mayo Clinic states that gastroparesis causes the digestive system to become sluggish, leading to severe constipation.(4)
While eggs do contain some fat, it is mostly beneficial unsaturated fat.
But pairing your eggs with high fat items like bacon, ham, and sausage, or foods cooked in lots of oils or butter can set you up for a bout with constipation.
3. Eggs may be accompanied by drinks that cause digestive problems
Breakfast just wouldn’t be breakfast without coffee, milk, and juice. But many people get abdominal discomfort and digestive upset from these favorite drinks.
Milk and other dairy products like cheese, can cause bloating and abdominal pain that can mimic the symptoms of constipation.
The acids in coffee and juice can cause heartburn and indigestion. Digestive problems can make it that much more difficult to eliminate and have productive bowel movements.
As in the other cases, the eggs may not be the culprit. But the total package that includes eggs may be leading to frequent episodes of constipation.
The bottom line is that eggs, alone, don’t generally cause constipation.
Not getting enough fiber, and getting too much fat will! And if you’re sensitive to certain foods and beverages, you’ll get some digestive backlash that leads to symptoms of constipation.
If you’re getting enough fiber and limiting fat intake but still fighting constipation, you need to consider if you have a food sensitivity or allergy.
Food Allergies, Sensitivities and Eggs
Egg intolerance occurs when your body cannot properly digest or has an adverse reaction to eggs.
The most common sensitivity is to egg whites, with yolk sensitivity being less common.
Children usually display sensitivity and intolerance to eggs early in life and outgrow them.
However, egg intolerance can follow you into adulthood or develop later in life.
The symptoms of egg intolerance include(5):
- Abdominal pain
An egg allergy may exist if your symptoms are more severe.
According to the AACA, symptoms of egg allergy can include (6):
- Runny nose
- Skin rash or hives
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory problems
You could have a delayed reaction anywhere from three hours to three weeks after eating eggs or egg-containing foods.
When you have an allergic reaction, your body mistakes the whole egg, the yolk, or the egg-whites for a harmful foreign substance.
Your body then goes into defense mode and begins fighting the egg as if it were a virus or bacteria. This causes a twofold problem.
First, it leads to a weakened immune system that cannot fight against the real threats. Second, you become weak and ill, especially with frequent or repeated allergic reactions.
If you have extreme reactions to egg, you should talk to your doctor about managing food sensitivities.
You may also need to be referred to an allergist for additional testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
What to Do About Egg-Related Constipation
While eggs may not directly cause it, the battle with egg-related constipation is real.
So, if you have any sensitivity to eggs or foods containing eggs, your best bet is to avoid them as much as possible.
The first thing you need to be aware of are hidden sources of eggs.
Here are some foods and drinks that may contain eggs:
- Custard, pudding, and cream pie fillings
- Ice cream, especially frozen custard-style soft-serve ice creams
- Foam in cappuccino and other coffee drinks
- Wine. Where egg whites are used in the winemaking process
- Batter fried foods
- Bread and pasta
- Caesar dressing for salads
Packaging and labeling on prepared food products makes it difficult to identify whether a food item contains eggs.
Here are some names to look for on food labels if you’re sensitive or allergic to eggs:
- Egg white
- Egg-derived lysozyme
Be aware of egg protein in flu vaccines
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine may contain small amounts of egg protein referred to as ovalbumin.
The CDC offers guidelines for people with a history of egg allergy, depending on the level of severity of your symptoms.
Keep in mind that there are several types of flu vaccines that contain different amounts of egg protein. If you’ve had adverse reactions to flu vaccines in the past, it may be due to your egg sensitivity.
You can help to reduce the adverse effects of egg protein by cutting down on egg consumption when it’s time to get your vaccine.
Talk to your health care provider before getting your next flu shot.
Consider using egg substitutes and egg replacements
Egg substitutes like Egg Beaters and powdered egg products still contain some egg protein, yolk, or whites.
They are meant to be low cholesterol alternatives and may not be suitable for people with sensitivities or allergies.
Egg replacements like Ener-G or Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer are completely egg-free but may contain dairy, soy, or other products that cause food sensitivities and digestive problems.
Egg alternatives for cooking and baking
If you are sensitive to egg whites, you can still create great baked goods with these modifications:
- Increase the amount of baking powder in recipes. For recipes like angel food cakes and souffles, try using two- or three times as much baking powder to make your dish light and fluffy.
- Use two tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to make batter rise.
- Use smaller pans so the batter won’t need extra space to rise.
In place of egg yolks, try arrowroot powder to create a smooth texture in your recipes. You can also try apricot or guava fruit pectin or ground flax seed.
Is Constipation Always Food Related?
As far as eggs go, you can reduce egg-related constipation by getting plenty of fiber and cutting down on greasy fatty foods.
If you have a sensitivity or allergy, use arrowroot or more baking powder in your recipes.
There are instances when constipation is a symptom of other underlying diseases like hypothyroidism, where your body does not produce or use thyroid hormones properly.
It could also signal that there’s an imbalance of brain neurotransmitters that affect your memory, mood, and other bodily functions.
These should be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.