Autoimmune Triad: 3 Factors Causing Disease to Manifest

by | Nov 8, 2017 | Lupus Blog, Symptoms | 0 comments

With over 23.5 million individuals suffering from autoimmune diseases, this epidemic deserves a second look at the root cause and the reason for the rising symptoms and incidence all over the world.

It’s important to note that most autoimmune conditions tend to overlap one another.  According to the National Institute of Health, 25% of autoimmune patients have a tendency to develop multiple autoimmune conditions.

Lupus in particular is a challenge to diagnose as it mimics multiple diseases.  This is because the disease can affect all systems in the body.

As a Lupus patient, I have a mixed “soup” of antibodies, as described by my Rheumatologist.  I have biomarkers for potential MCTD and Sjogren’s. But since I have no clinical signs of these conditions, we just simply “watch” my biomarkers.

If you’ve been following my social media feeds and blog, I wrote about the root cause of Lupus or any autoimmune disease being mitochondrial dysfunction.

After 19 years, it makes more sense to me to focus on the root cause than on the pathology.

If focusing on the pathology, “Lupus” or “autoimmune disease” in general fails to address the body as a whole system, and we fall prey to mitigating the “symptoms” by adding toxic medications that potentially set off other unintended consequences.

We know and understand that our body struggles when homeostasis is disturbed by its innate compensatory mechanism to keep our body from harm.

Once the body is taxed and burdened to its threshold is when we end up with a host of symptoms.

Symptoms tell us that our bodies need help, that they’re burdened.

When we experience symptoms, the body is not asking for a medication to calm just one small aspect of the “whole” system, rather, it’s asking for help in recalibrating itself to achieve homeostasis again.

I believe that any disease is due to mitochondrial dysfunction.

The Autoimmune Triad

Thanks to the work of  Dr. Alessio Fasano, a physician and researcher at the University of Maryland, he and his team have discovered interesting findings on celiac disease, which is relevant to all autoimmune conditions.

This is exciting because of the possibility that treatment approaches to celiac disease may benefit other autoimmune conditions as well.

Dr. Fasano found that for patients with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition, 3 factors must be present for the disease to manifest: trigger, genetic susceptibility, and a permeable gut (leaky gut).

This validates my personal hypothesis for over 19 years.


A trigger can be an event, much like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It can be a cold, flu, trauma, or an emotional turmoil that does you in.

For me, it was the snowboarding after weeks of intense studying (stress) for an entire semester.  As a first time snowboarder, I fell hard, multiple times throughout the whole day.  And the sun exposure didn’t help.

I noticed the extreme fatigue that set in, coupled with a rash on my face.  This was the start of it all.

When you think of the trigger though, I think it’s important to understand that it’s never one episodic moment or event.  A cumulative burden usually exists in the way of emotional stress, physical stress, or psychological stress.

As a graduate student, I wasn’t eating the best of foods, had terrible sleeping habits, and was constantly stressed from my course load.

Genetic Susceptibility

Life deals you a deck of cards in the way of your genes.  It’s how you play your hand that determines your gene expression.

I’ve always had migraines from a young age and underlying digestive issues prior to the diagnosis.  I was fatigued easily and got sick often.

Nonetheless, I ignored those symptoms for many years, dismissing them as something that everyone goes through.  I have a twin sister, and my mom and I were comparing our notes about how my twin was always so much healthier than me, had higher tolerance for stress, and never got sick.

Gut Permeability

Also known as leaky gut.  Lupus patients and all autoimmune patients have leaky gut.

As a result, we have mitochondrial dysfunction which leads to a host of systemic inflammation and immune imbalances. The good news is that since we know the root cause of our issues, we can work on fixing our issues once and for all.

Gut permeability exists due to any type of stress, antibiotic use, and toxic load.  Most people have gut permeability issues to some extent.

According to the NIH, 60-70 million Americans have digestive issues, which is responsible for 36.6 million doctors visits, 7.9 million emergency department visits, and 141.8 billion in healthcare costs alone.  Yet, the medical system fails to acknowledge the role of diet and nutrition in the health of individuals.

An average physician spends only approximately 23.9 hours in medical school in Nutrition.  They spend most of their time studying the pathology of disease.  But what good is that after the fact?

Challenging the System

It is clear that we can prevent and reverse autoimmune disease.  However, the medications to manage such conditions are seen as the gold standard and often, patients are at the mercy of such indoctrination of necessary medications from the doctors.

How do I know?

As a functional medicine practitioner, physical therapist, and a registered dietitian for over 19 years, I’ve had a fair share of patients wanting alternative methods to address their diseases, such as diabetes, cholesterol, cancer, and various autoimmune conditions.

The physicians often threaten or scare patients into thinking that without the pill, our conditions will worsen to a point of no return.

As a Lupus patient, I’ve challenged the medical regimen that treats Lupus with toxic medications such as chemo agents, corticosteroids, and pain meds.

Rather, I’ve fought very hard to decrease the meds and have been very successful.

Key is in understanding that there is a better way and making informed choices about your treatments.

Question your doctors about why they prescribe specific meds for you, understand the risks, and then decide as a team with your physician what may be best for you.

I know that we can reverse our autoimmune diseases with lifestyle changes regarding the foods we consume, thoughts that we think, stress levels, and exercise.

5 Stages of Autoimmune Disease

  1. Susceptibility: less than optimal health state due to physical or emotional stress
  2. Subclinical Disease: pathological changes taking place in your body without symptoms manifesting
  3. Clinical Disease: receiving a diagnosis
  4. Management, Flares, Remissions: this stage may include taking medications, feeling better some days, and absolutely awful on other days
  5. Recovery and Healing: diminishing your symptoms and feeling like yourself again

I believe at every stage, we can work to reverse our disease by taking ownership of our body and health.

Healing is an inside job.

Want to get started?

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