At Vibrant Market, it is my mission to help people find resources to be the most Vibrant version of themselves. To do that, I think it is extremely important to spread the word about Functional Medicine, and root causes. Western Medicine, in my opinion, has generally failed us in the area of autoimmune diseases, which as of September 2021 affects an estimated 23.5 million Americans (you can definitely assume that that number has grown). In functional medicine, practitioners look upstream to find root causes of dis-eases, instead of seeing a symptom and automatically trying to band-aid over it with medication. In functional medicine, it is believed that autoimmune diseases are caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. It usually is never just 1 cause, but rather a combination of causes to make up a perfect storm of dis-ease. Here are some of the top root causes of autoimmune diseases according to functional medicine:
Leaky gut syndrome: This occurs when the lining of the intestines becomes more permeable, allowing toxins, undigested food particles, and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. This triggers an immune response and can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases. To look even more upstream– what lifestyle factors, including stress and diet, are causing the leaky gut syndrome?
Chronic infections: Chronic infections, such as Lyme disease, Epstein-Barr virus, MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome) and other viral or bacterial infections, can trigger an immune response that leads to the development of autoimmune diseases.
Environmental toxins: Exposure to environmental toxins, such as those found in cleaning products, skincare products, heavy metals, pesticides, and mold toxins, can contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases.
Nutrient deficiencies: Nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin D3, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, can lead to inflammation and an increased risk of autoimmune diseases. Or even a genetic MTHFR variation that doesn’t allow you to methylate properly, making your detoxification less effective, and you low in folate.
Poor Diet: Aside from nutrient deficiencies that come with a poor diet– the foods you're eating either help or hurt you. Eating an inflammatory diet such as: processed foods, foods that are GMO or non-organic, high amounts of seed oils, high amounts of sugary foods and beverages, fried foods, or foods high in trans fats contribute to autoimmune disease.
Stress: Chronic stress has a huge impact on the immune system and plays a big part in the development of autoimmune diseases. It tells your body you are in danger, and contributes to your body attacking itself– aka autoimmunity!
Food sensitivities: Food sensitivities, such as gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, nightshade intolerance, or even “healthy foods” that your body has developed a sensitivity to can trigger an immune response and lead to the development of autoimmune diseases.
Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid dysfunction or imbalances in sex hormones, can contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases. On this note– it is important to do what you can in order to keep your hormones balanced. Avoid endocrine disrupting skincare, makeup, cleaning products, plastics, and foods.
It is important to note that each person's experience with autoimmune disease is unique, and the root causes may differ from person to person. Look at yourself as an individual, not a protocol. Functional medicine doctors work with patients to identify and address their individual root causes through personalized treatment plans. To find your own functional medicine doctor, find our resources here.