People struggling with unexplained autoimmune symptoms can go years without being diagnosed, and even then are given very little options from mainstream medicine. They're told there is very little, if anything, they can do about their health problems, that their problem is strictly due to genetics. Their only option is to take medications to suppress the immune system or manage symptoms.
Is this true? Are autoimmune conditions solely due to genetics, with no solution? Let me give you a functional medicine perspective.
Nature or Nuture?
There's no debate over whether or not autoimmune conditions have a genetic component. A variety of autoimmune conditions tend to be found throughout families. But with an increase in just about every autoimmune condition in the last few decades, genetics alone do not give us the answer.
The old view of genetics was that it was an immutable force, that if your family had a certain health problem, it would be just a matter of time before you got the same disease. Today, science takes into consideration the field of epigenetics, the environmental factors that affect your DNA expression. Our bad and good genes are turned on and off by the world around us and the choices we make in life.
One Stanford study, published in 2015, looked at 210 healthy twins. Some were identical and others were fraternal. Identical twins share almost all the genetics, while fraternal twins have about 50% of the same genes. Because of this, studying twins is a great way for researchers to distinguish between genetic and environmental factors.
Looking at different aspects of the twin's immune systems, what the scientists found was remarkable: