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Th1/Th2/Th17 Dominance, Food Sensitivities & Gut Health

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

Are you Th1, Th2 or Th17 dominant? And why is it so important to know if you are?

Knowing if you’re Th1/Th2/Th17 dominant is an important piece of your wellness puzzle, especially when it comes to your immune system and (surprisingly!) gut health. It can help you figure out what you should be doing, and sometimes more importantly, what you should be avoiding!

T helper (Th) cells are a type of white blood cell that helps produce inflammatory molecules to combat infections.

The immune system starts with a precursor cell that then decides if it wants to become Th1, Th2 or Th17 cells. It makes the decision based on your genes and environment.

It’s good to have a balance of Th1, Th2 or Th17, but this usually doesn’t happen. We are usually skewed in one direction, and we have to do the right lifestyle, diet and supplement strategies to bring us back in balance.

Pro tip: Th1 and Th17 dominance often go together because they share similar genetic pathways.

Being Th1/Th17 dominant means the immune system is constantly amped up. A telltale sign of the Th1/Th17 dominant person may be a tendency to catch fewer colds.

Sounds great, right? Not so fast.

People who are Th1 or Th17 dominant, like me, often have issues with food sensitivities, brain fog, autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory conditions. This is because Th1/Th17 cells tend to be pro-inflammatory.

Th1/Th17 & Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can be broadly defined as experiencing some kind of inflammation from food.

Food allergies are more specific, more acute, and can be measured by looking at IgE levels. Food allergies come about as a result of an overactive Th2 immune system.

Food sensitivities come about as a result of an overactive Th1 immune system. When your immune system is on high alert all the time, it’s more likely to attack not only foreign microbes, but also food-based components that are actually not harmful on their own.

There are 2 main types of food sensitivities:

  • Your immune system might stimulate too much as a result of something that is designed to stimulate it.
  • You experience inflammation as a result of a specific protein that your immune system thinks is bad (gluten from wheat, casein from dairy, or ovalbumin from eggs).

In general, plant foods are designed to stimulate your immune system, and that can be a good thing for Th2 dominant people. But if your immune system gets overstimulated by it because you’re too skewed in Th1, then it’s not good.

This is why some people do less well on diets rich in grains, beans and starches.

If you’re suffering from a food sensitivity, you probably know it. Well, you might not know what the problem is, but you definitely know you’re suffering. Common symptoms of food sensitivities include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating, cramps, gas
  • Headaches
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Brain fog & inability to focus
  • Aches & pains
  • Slower recovery
  • Poor motivation & low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Acne
  • Heartburn

All that…just from eating something your body doesn’t like!

Food sensitivities tend to crop up as people get older because our immune system may get more imbalanced as we get older, and also due to sheer chance. The more time that goes by, the more likely your immune system might start seeing gluten as a dangerous protein.

Maybe you were really stressed at some point and were eating very unhealthy, and your immune system started to misfire.

Not Only Gut Problems

When you have food sensitivities, it doesn’t only cause gut problems. It can contribute to general inflammation that often stems from the gut.

This general inflammation can lead to other autoimmune issues that are not connected to the gut. When your gut isn’t in check, your entire body can be out of whack.

This is why checking your Th1 dominance is so important. Th1 dominance = more inflammation = gut problems = other autoimmune issues.

With everything going on, a lot of people are doing things to boost their immune system, but for people who are Th1 dominant and already have an amped up immune system, these immune-boosting supplements can spell disaster for their body.


Supplements that increase Th1 also increase the problem (i.e. inflammation). For example, natural supplements like echinacea and astragalus can all increase Th1 activity.

This is why I’ve been telling everyone to find out if you are Th1 dominant and then address your issues at their root cause: your genes. Otherwise, you could end up doing more harm than good!

Genes Involved in Food Sensitivities

These are the genes involved in food sensitivities. When checking your score on the SelfDecode Personalized Genetics Blog, you won’t have a red or orange face for every one of these, but if you suffer from food sensitivities, then you will notice more red and orange than green scorecards.

I’ve indicated my score color with each one so that you can compare your own. We are creating a DNA Wellness Report about this topic as well, so you will be able to download a comprehensive report on the topic soon.

All of the risk genes that I have are directly related to Th1/Th2/Th17 dominance.

If you don’t see that you have red or orange faces for a majority of these, then it’s likely you don’t have serious food sensitivities and your health problems are probably arising from other issues.

I strongly recommend buying a SelfDecode genetic kit to test these genes and see if you have food sensitivities. It’s way more valuable (and cheaper) than any blood test that you can do.

If you already have your genes sequenced by another company, you can upload your DNA file and instantly check your results.

In addition to being able to check your genes for food sensitivities, you’ll also be able to:

  • Download comprehensive DNA health reports on topics like gut health, sleep, mood, inflammation, weight loss and more!
  • Access ALL of your personalized results on the SelfDecode blog to check your genetic scorecards and see what you need to change to combat bad genes.
  • Track and analyze your lab test results to get diet, lifestyle and supplement recommendations that will help you get your levels in the optimal range.
  • Get to the root cause of your health issues by finding out which genes are responsible when you use the Symptoms and Conditions Analyzer

Can’t wait to hear about what you find!

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen flipped the script on conventional and alternative medicine…and it worked. Growing up, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, anxiety, and other issues that were poorly understood in traditional healthcare. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a learning journey to decode his DNA and track his biomarkers in search of better health. Through this personalized approach, he discovered his genetic weaknesses and was able to optimize his health 10X better than he ever thought was possible. Based on his own health success, he went on to found SelfDecode, the world’s first direct-to-consumer DNA analyzer & precision health tool that utilizes AI-driven polygenic risk scoring to produce accurate insights and health recommendations. Today, SelfDecode has helped over 100,000 people understand how to get healthier using their DNA and labs.
Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, with a mission of empowering people to take advantage of the precision health revolution and uncover insights from their DNA and biomarkers so that we can all feel great all of the time.


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