Have you heard of the autoimmune triad?
It’s the three factors that all autoimmune conditions have in common and it was identified by Dr. Alessio Fasano, a world-renowned gastroenterologist and researcher.
The triad explains what causes your immune system to go rogue and attack your own tissues, and most importantly, how to stop the attack and reverse your condition.
I explain it to all of my patients with autoimmunity and they find it very helpful for understanding why their bodies seem to have betrayed them out of nowhere, and how to take back control of their health.
However, this is information that everyone with autoimmunity needs to know, so I’m sharing it here today and I hope you’ll pass this along to anyone who needs it.
The 3 Factors that Cause Autoimmune Disease
1. Genetic Predisposition
We’re starting with this one because it’s where many people get hung up, but I want to be clear that it is NOT the most important factor.
In fact, research in identical twins has shown that genetics only account for 30% of autoimmunity. The remaining 70% can be attributed to intestinal permeability and environmental causes.
So while there are a few specific genetic variations that predispose you to developing an autoimmune disease, they are only one piece of the puzzle. And more importantly, these genes are not static, they can be turned on and off based on the other two factors.
This is great news for any autoimmune patients with children because it means you can not only reverse your own condition, your children can avoid autoimmunity altogether, even if they have the same genetic predisposition that you do, by addressing the other two factors early.
2. Intestinal Permeability or Leaky Gut
Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions of your intestinal barrier open up, allowing unwanted particles to pass through.
Once the barrier is open, bacteria, toxins, viruses, and food particles are able to escape your digestive tract and enter your bloodstream, where your immune system tags them as invaders and goes into attack mode.
This triggers a big spike in inflammation as your immune system works to neutralize all of the threats.
Over time, as your gut remains leaky and you become chronically inflamed, your immune system becomes too stressed and eventually misfires, attacking your own tissues and triggering autoimmunity.
However, if you restore your gut’s lining so it is no longer permeable, you can stop the inflammation and give your immune system a break to recover.
3. Environmental Triggers
Lastly, there are a number of environmental and lifestyle factors that can trigger or worsen autoimmunity by disrupting immune function or contributing to chronic inflammation.
- Nutrient deficiencies and mitochondrial dysfunction
- Stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional
- Toxins, especially heavy metals and mold
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Hormone imbalances
You can read more about each of them in this post.
Some of these are more common than others, such as stress which is pretty much universal, but each person’s triggers are unique and there are often multiple at play.
However, by taking in-depth at your history and environment, and using the right lab testing where needed, we can identify the specific factors that triggered your autoimmunity.
Reversing Autoimmune Disease Naturally
So what does this mean for actually reversing autoimmune disease? The short answer is everything.
With the right testing and targeted lifestyle changes, you can heal your gut, remove your environmental triggers, and turn off the expression of genes behind your autoimmune disease.
Best of all, you can stop your immune system’s attack on your body, eliminate your symptoms, and reclaim the health you once knew.
I hope you found this as helpful and empowering as my patients do.
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!