Thanksgiving is almost here, so the tempting aromas of turkey and cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and ice cream – and more – are nearly upon us. And with Thanksgiving, of course, comes the time-honored tradition of round-the-table dinner discussions. So, considering that you’ll be surrounded with lots and lots of food, here’s an idea for something new you can talk about this Thanksgiving: food sensitivities.
Some holiday conversation topics stay the same every year. Maybe politics, maybe sports.
Either way, this year why don’t you bring a new topic to the table: what holiday foods you may be sensitive to and what that means? EverlyWell’s Food Sensitivity test can tell you your sensitivity to some of the most popular Thanksgiving foods like Turkey, Ham, Potatoes and Cranberries!
To help kick-start you in that direction, here’s an easy to understand overview of food sensitivity – starting with the immune system, then taking a look at an antibody known as IgG.
The Immune System
If you have a cold or a flu, chances are good that it’ll go away on its own – thanks to your immune system. The immune system is arguably the body’s most impressive line of defense against invading germs: most of the body’s other defense mechanisms (like the outer covering you know as “skin”) pale in comparison to the immune system’s sophisticated arsenal of B cells, cytokines, antibodies, and more – all of which work together to wipe out infections before they can spread further in the body (and harm you even more).
So without a healthy immune system, your body probably wouldn’t survive an infection for very long. (Even if it’s an infection as “innocent” as the common cold!)
How the immune system accomplishes its defensive mission is pretty awe-inspiring, involving a lot of cellular and molecular players that are (usually) extremely effective at what they do. One such player is an antibody called IgG.
Your IgG antibodies can contribute to any food sensitivities you may have. To see how IgG antibodies can contribute to food sensitivities, let’s first take a look at what – exactly – antibodies are.
What are antibodies?
Antibodies – or “immunoglobulins” if you’re technically inclined – are tiny, Y-shaped molecules that assist your immune system in its heroic efforts to quash bad bacteria, vicious viruses, and other threats. When the immune system detects dangerous particles in the bloodstream (like a germ), it triggers the release of antibodies to deal with the threat.
Antibodies do that by “sticking” themselves to harmful germs and other particles in your blood. In this way, antibodies act as “molecular labels” that tell other parts of your immune system to destroy these antibody-tagged particles.
The body’s antibodies can be grouped into five main types. Each of these antibody types have their own special characteristics which allow the immune system to respond to a broader range of threats. These 5 types of antibodies are known as immunoglobulins A, D, E, G, and M – otherwise known as IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM.
Now, let’s return to the antibody that’s involved in food sensitivities: IgG.
A Closer Look at IgG
IgG is the most abundant antibody in the bloodstream. And, as you know, IgG also likely plays a role in food sensitivity. In short, if you’re very sensitive to a particular food – like sweet potatoes, or maybe cranberries – you might have elevated levels of IgG antibodies for those food proteins.
Say, for example, that you’ve just gobbled up a delicious slice of turkey. That food then enters your digestive system. It’s then broken down into smaller particles and compounds, which then make their way into your bloodstream (as a normal part of the digestive process).
If you experience certain symptoms hours or days after eating that delicious Thanksgiving turkey, IgG could be involved by triggering inflammation in your body. In short, your body might produce IgG antibodies against the proteins in turkey meat. When that happens, a localized inflammatory response can result – which, in turn, might cause bloating, cramping, or other unwanted and bothersome consequences of your turkey feast (go here to see a more complete list of food sensitivity symptoms).
Food sensitivity, in other words, is a case of mistaken identity. It’s the biochemical equivalent of friendly fire in the (literally) bloody battle between your immune system and dangerous invaders. Turkey meat, after all, isn’t a legitimate threat to the body’s survival – it’s actually full of health-boosting nutrients.
Food sensitivities can happen when the antibody IgG tells your immune system that a particular kind of food is dangerous to the body. So it’s possible to be sensitive to just one type of food – or many different kinds of food. Finding out what foods you’re sensitive to can be a tricky process, though – as perhaps someone in your family can tell you from firsthand experience. But, with at-home food sensitivity testing – alongside an elimination diet – it’s possible to fairly quickly identify your food sensitivities.
Now, a final note before you go off to prepare for the upcoming holiday: thanks for reading, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!