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The 5 Main Causes Of Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmunity is when the body attacks itself, and this affects millions of Americans.

There are more solutions than just medications. If you find the right cause you can also find the way to treat your autoimmunity.

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The 5 Main Causes Of Autoimmune Disease & How To Reverse It

The whole point of our immune system is to act as a defense against harmful invaders like bacteria or viruses. Usually, this works very well. We have a cold. The body fights it. We move on. However, sometimes the immune system becomes overactive and starts attacking itself. The body attacks its own tissues. This is what autoimmune means. 

It can take years and multiple visits to a doctor for many people before a diagnosis is made. 1 in 15 people in the US has an autoimmune disease, and the prevalence is rising. Many doctors say autoimmune disease is just genetic – the luck of the draw.  If that is the case, why are more and more people being diagnosed with autoimmunity?

That’s because it’s more than just genetics.

In this article, we will talk about the 5 main causes of autoimmunity and how we can reverse it.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

We know what immunity is. When the body sees a foreign object, it starts to attack it. After a successful attack, it creates an antibody so that the next time it sees it; it knows it’s an enemy and can fight it efficiently. 

For people with autoimmunity, the body creates antibodies against itself. For example, for inflammatory bowel disease, the system attacks the lining of the intestines. 

In conventional medicine, the solution is to calm the immune system down. The medication used is called IMMUNOSUPRESSION. They are intense and expensive and have lots of side effects. 

And I am not telling you not to take them. I am just telling you that the solution in conventional medicine is to calm down the immune system. But there is a little conversation as to WHY the immune system got triggered. 

5 Reasons That Trigger Autoimmune Disease 

Imagine if we only knew why. Well, it turns out we do. The reason the immune system gets overactivated is because of inflammation. 

There are many causes of inflammation, but today we will look at 5 main causes. If we look at autoimmunity as an immune system that gets triggered by something, we have to look at the causes of inflammation and triggers. 


The Standard American Diet is inflammatory. Inflammation in the belly causes something called leaky gut, which creates more inflammation, leading to autoimmune issues. 

Some of the foods that can cause autoimmune disease: 

  • High-sugar foods, fructose alcohol, and artificial sweeteners are toxic.
  • Inflammatory foods: Things that sound healthy but can cause leaky gut. 
  • Dairy products: Some people are sensitive to dairy, causing discomfort. This leads to constant inflammation over time. 
  • Grains, legumes, and gluten. 
  • Vitamin Deficiency:  Low vitamins A, D and zinc have been shown to mess with this barrier

In contrast, diets rich in whole foods promote healthy immune function, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and unprocessed foods.


Chemical toxins can be found in many different places–from the air we breathe to the food we eat. They can also be present in products we use daily, such as skincare and household cleaners. When our bodies are exposed to these toxins, they can attack our cells. 

Over time, if we are constantly exposed to toxins, this can damage the cells and cause autoimmunity.  Remember, autoimmune issues happen over time, so you may no longer even be exposed. The damage is already done, and the disease appears years later!


We have discovered that when some patients are allergic to certain foods, it causes autoimmunity, like for patients with gluten sensitivity.  The chemical structure of gliadin (the protein in gluten) looks very similar on a molecular level to that of the thyroid gland.

When the gliadin protein encounters a leaky gut, it enters the bloodstream undigested, and the immune system flags it for destruction.

Now, the immune system has created antibodies against gliadin in the interest of a swift response the next time it’s detected. 

What does this mean for you? The antibodies to gliadin cause the body to also attack thyroid tissue.  And when you eat food containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.

We now know that there are links between allergic responses and autoimmune responses. And there is a push to identify food allergen triggers for autoimmune diseases and lead to a dietary elimination therapy for autoimmune diseases.


Another common cause of autoimmune disease is exposure to microbes. Microbes are tiny organisms that can be found all around us. Tick-borne diseases like Lyme and other viruses can trigger an autoimmune disease. 


We know that these factors trigger autoimmune disease, and then we have about 50% that are attributed to “unknown trigger factors.” Physical and psychological stress has been implicated in the development of autoimmune diseases.

Studies have shown that up to 80 percent of patients report uncommon emotional stress before disease onset. Unfortunately, not only does stress cause disease, but the disease itself also causes significant stress in the patients, creating a vicious cycle. 

How to Treat Autoimmune Diseases 

Many conventional medicine providers treat “lifestyle modification” as a soft recommendation.  You know I am not against medicine,, but lifestyle modification is where it’s at! For all diseases, especially immune disease.

You can start treating this on your own. Clean up your diet. Remove your stress. Sleep through the night. If you feel better, guess what, you’re on your way. You don’t need to deep drive into mold and microbes and all that.
Also, a great supplement to add when you’re dealing with autoimmune is Omega 3 fatty acid. 


So, to recap, autoimmune diseases are tricky. They take years to diagnose. Early symptoms may include fatigue, joint and muscle pain, fever, or weight gain. These symptoms are not specific, so they often go unrecognized. They are caused by diet, toxins, allergens, microbes and stress. 

Of course, you should get tested and treated if necessary, but implement these lifestyle changes immediately to start seeing results. 

As always, at any time you’re unsure, you can always reach out to our team to get the help you need. 

Hi! I’m Dr. E, The NP with a PHD. Several years ago, my wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and the only options given to us were heavy duty medications.

We KNEW there had to be a better way. After a long search, we discovered functional medicine.

With functional medicine we found alternative ways we were able to manage her disease and get her back to feeling like her old self.

We discovered that this way of life not only helps people with various issues, including autoimmune, chronic issues and “I-don’t-feel-good-itis.”

Functional medicine drastically changed our lives and using it I developed The KNEW Method to help others who are suffering or not feeling optimal.

Let’s work together to get you to feeling like your old self again.

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