The Real Risk You're Taking When You Eat Raw Eggs

It is arguably Sylvester Stallone's iconic character, Rocky Balboa, who made drinking raw eggs after a sweat session a more popular practice in the fitness world. Passing on that runny, post-training snack is easy for most, but raw eggs can also be found present in tangy tartars, delicate meringues, and that delicious bite of cookie dough we sneak while waiting for the cookies to bake. Giving these foods up would be difficult, so what is the real risk we're taking when we eat raw eggs?

Unfortunately, eating raw or undercooked eggs will put you at risk for salmonella poisoning, also known as salmonellosis. Physician, scientist, and author William Li describes salmonellosis to the Huffington Post as "a foodborne illness caused by the bacteria Salmonella enteritidis that can contaminate improperly processed eggs." Ingesting Salmonella can result in food poisoning, typhoid fever, enteric fever, gastroenteritis, and other illnesses.

Be extra careful if you have a compromised immune system

A case of food poisoning can undoubtedly cause discomfort and disruption to your life for a few days, but it can be even more serious to those with a compromised immune system. Li tells Huffington Post, "In healthy people, the symptoms subside after a few uncomfortable days, and staying hydrated is all that's needed. However, in the very young or elderly, or in people who have a compromised immune system, salmonellosis can be a life-threatening illness requiring hospitalization and antibiotics." 

In the more serious cases, The CDC has reported specific strains of salmonellosis to have sometimes caused an infection in urine, blood, or the nervous system. In one year, the CDC estimated salmonellosis caused around 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the U.S.

It's okay, and even normal, to feel squeamish at the sight of an uncooked or raw egg, but don't be scared off from enjoying the healthy variant! The CDC states that eggs are one of nature's most nutritious foods and are safe to eat when handled and cooked the right way. So while we are impressed by Rocky Balboa's commitment and insane exercise regime, it is for the best that we enjoy our post-training snack scrambled hard.