The answer to this question is yes and no. As a provider, I get this question all the time. People want to know if my parents or if my family members have autoimmune will I develop them?
The answer is yes, and no – autoimmune disease is sometimes hereditary but not always. A very small portion of the types of autoimmune diseases are directly inherited, versus the vast majority of autoimmune diseases which have many different causes or triggering factors that could create risks for developing autoimmune disease.
One of the triggering factors may be that you have a genetic risk – because these autoimmune conditions are in your family, But then, there are so many other potential factors that could cause our bodies to start creating autoimmunity. Other triggers may be things like experiencing trauma, exposure to toxins in the environment, digestive problems and infections among other causes.
The digestive tract is where about 70% of our immune system lives. When the digestive tract becomes compromised – whether from infections or inflammatory causes – then the immune system also becomes compromised and this can then result in changes to the gut that can start the autoimmune process in motion.
Many other factors – like what’s going on in our environment – stress, sleep, nutrition, and safety can also cause our immune system to become vulnerable or compromised if they aren’t in balance. We’ll explore some of these other causes in the coming weeks. For right now the answer to the question “Is Autoimmune Disease Inherited?” is yes, and no. It is directly inherited less of the time and more often it is caused by many factors in our health and environment. Genetic risk can be a component of why people develop autoimmunity but it is most often only one element of what causes autoimmunity.