I’m going to be blunt. For most people, it takes more than repairing your gut and following an AIP diet to reverse autoimmunity.

Yes, these play a big role in immune function, and I’ve seen many patients get better by addressing them. But there are lots of other pieces to the puzzle.

Here are 6 other factors that play a big role in reversing autoimmunity that you and your doctor may be overlooking.

1. Nutrient Deficiencies

In order for your immune system to function optimally, it relies on a number of key vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, and zinc to name a few.

But even if you’re eating a pristine diet, with tons of fruits and veggies, and your gut is in tip-top shape, you could still be deficient in some of these nutrients.

This could be due to genetic factors that affect nutrient absorption like MTHFR mutations, along with toxic exposures and high stress levels. Not to mention the fact that our food just isn’t as nutrient-rich as it used to be thanks to soil depletion and modern farming practices.

2. Infections

SIBO, Candida, and parasites aren’t the only infections that can trigger and worsen autoimmune disease. Latent viral infections like Epstein-Barr (the mono virus), and herpes simplex, along with bacterial infections like Klebsiella, Yersinia, and E. coli are common culprits as well.

Lyme is also a big one, especially for anyone living up here in the northeast, and is often overlooked in autoimmunity because the symptoms can overlap.

3. Mercury & Mold Toxicity

These two toxins are both known root causes of autoimmune disease, are far more common than you think, and are almost always overlooked by conventional doctors.

They can also produce a wide variety of vague symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, headaches, hair loss, digestive symptoms, and more. This makes them very difficult to diagnose without the right testing.

4. Hormone Imbalances

We’re still not sure exactly how sex hormones and autoimmunity are related. However, since nearly 80% of autoimmune patients are women, researchers are pretty positive the two are connected.

One popular theory is that estrogen heightens the inflammatory process, fueling chronic inflammation and therefore autoimmune disease.

This is made even worse if you’re dealing with estrogen dominance, which is when your estrogen levels are high relative to your other hormones like progesterone. And unfortunately, estrogen dominance is pretty common because we’re surrounded by xenoestrogens, chemicals that mimic estrogen. They’re in everything from our food and water to basically anything made out of plastic.

5. Chronic Stress

Stress leads to chronic inflammation, can suppress your immune system (leaving you vulnerable to infections) and makes you more likely to become estrogen dominant – all bad news for autoimmune conditions.

Stress and chronic “busy-ness” have become almost a rite of passage in today’s society. But the truth is, if you don’t find a way to relieve stress and counteract its effect on your health, it can hold you back from fully reversing autoimmunity and keep you trapped in a vicious cycle.

6. Mindset

This one is a little less precise and isn’t something you can test for, but it’s actually the most important.

In my experience working with hundreds of patients, a positive mindset is the single biggest factor that determines if patients recover from chronic illness or not.

Because here’s the truth. Reversing autoimmunity is not a simple process. There are many factors involved, and it requires persistence and commitment.

The results are more than worth it, just ask many of our patients who are now living symptom-free. But you have to believe it’s possible and that you will succeed in order to get there.

Addressing Hidden Factors to Reverse Autoimmune Disease

If you’re dealing with autoimmunity or any complex chronic condition, the key to real recovery is a comprehensive root-cause approach. Rather than guessing which of these factors might be holding you back, you need real answers and a path to overcome them.

At GrassRoots Functional Medicine, the first step is to get the right testing to uncover any deficiencies, imbalances, and infections.

Next, we develop a personalized treatment plan, based on sustainable lifestyle and nutrition therapies, to address each patient’s specific root causes.

At GrassRoots we have built a team to provide you with the support, accountability, and mindset that will allow you to achieve all of your health goals.

If you are ready for a comprehensive program that will help you reclaim the health you once knew, check out our Adaptation Program and book your free 10-minute discovery call so we can discuss whether or not it’s the right fit for you.

About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.

Want to work with Dr. Osgood and the GrassRoots team? Become a patient in our West Lebanon, New Hampshire Functional Medicine clinic, our Burlington, Vermont Functional Medicine clinic, or our Austin, Texas Functional Medicine clinic!