The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness by Dr. Matt Hammett
In 2020, if just the current trends continue, our kids by the time they’re 13 years old, a vast majority of them will be obese. Not 50% of them like now, but a vast majority of them will be obese. They will have type 2 diabetes. They will already be developing heart disease and cancer. They will weigh over 200 pounds.
Obesity rates have increased 152% since 1960, and now almost 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. 70% of Australians consider themselves sedentary, 24% of Americans have no daily activity, none. We’re not much better, by the way. The global burden of cancer continues to increase. In the year 2000, 5.3 million men and 4.7 million women developed a malignant tumor, and 6.2 million died from the disease. The number of new cases is expected to grow by 50% over the next 20 years to reach 50 million. (1)
In 1972, there were only about 6 cases of breast cancer diagnosed per 100,000 California women, 26 years later the number had risen by over 500%. (2)
Every year for the past 50 years we have spent more money per person on drugs and surgery to treat chronic diseases. What do we have to show for it? The United States populates only 4.6% of the globe, and we consume more than 56% of the world’s supply of pharmaceutical drugs. (3) Despite our medical treatments, 80% of the United States has chronic illness, which includes our children. (4) Most of these illnesses are attributed to chronic stress. When I speak of chronic stress, I am talking about a wide variety of stressors, biochemical, emotional, chemical, mental, and physical stressors.
The good news, if you follow the plan that is laid out in our 2 cd set, The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness, you will have a better chance at gaining the 20% not suffering with chronic illness, and reverse those illnesses that plague you and your family.
Science continues to demonstrate that over 95% of these illnesses are truly preventable — they are not “genetic” as has been the message so long perpetuated in American culture. Our lifestyle choices and our environmental choices determine whether or not we will express health and wellness. This relationship between the environment and our genetic expression is summarized by a break-thru in Science, called the Science of Epigenetics. (5) It will soon cause our biology textbooks to be rewritten.
There are clearly some direct relationships that have been confirmed in the study of chronic illness. We do not develop any of the aforementioned chronic illnesses due to random chance or faulty genetics. The “5 Pillars of Chronic Illness” represent the prerequisites to chronic illness. We do not develop chronic illness without at least one of these five pillars existing first.
The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness deal with how our bodies respond to a multifaceted arena of accumulated stress. Chronic illness develops after a bombardment of factors that deal with the five pillars: Stress Hormones, Insulin Resistance, Chronic Inflammation, Decreased SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) and Decreased Immunity.
In the simplest of metaphors, we could liken cancer or any of the other chronic illnesses to scrambled eggs. The eggs didn’t just wondrously end up scrambled. It wasn’t bad luck or bad egg genes that cooked the egg. Something must have preceded the end result of that egg being cooked.
It may have been baked, roasted, slow cooked, fried, microwaved… or any combination of these. These cooking methods are like the five pillars. They must precede a cooked egg! Using this analogy, we begin to understand the hierarchy of how chronic illness truly happens. Once, we understand the 5 pillars of chronic illness, and the role stressors play, we can begin to fully restore health.
The five pillars are innately intelligent physiological adaptations to another level of precursors. In order for the body to respond in the form of these pillars, or adaptations to the environment, there must be a preceding state of Toxicity and Deficiency.
If our nutrition, movement or mindset is toxic and deficient, rather than pure and sufficient, the end result is that the body will intelligently express adaptations to this toxic and deficient environment in the form of the physiological stress response.
The physiological stress response does not create health; it does not heal. What it does is it allows short-term survival in the pathogenic environment. Essentially, it buys you time to get to a healthy environment — one that is less toxic and deficient, more pure and sufficient.
As a colleague put it best, Dr. James Chestnut, “Our toxic and deficient lifestyle choices are like rocks in a backpack we wear as we tread water. They slowly sink us and make our existence more challenging and stressful. If the rocks are left in the backpack, and we continue to choose more rocks, our bodies make the highly intelligent decision to adapt to this new environment. This is known as allostasis — the body’s attempt to maintain stability in a changing environment. The rocks are known as the allostatic load — the cumulative effect of our body responding to the stressors (toxicity and deficiency).” (6) It’s this allostatic load that results in the physiological stress response and the 5 pillars of chronic illness. Without the rocks, we cannot move to the next stage.
Therefore, if we can prevent putting rocks into our backpack in the first place (by consistently making pure and sufficient lifestyle choices i.e. chiropractic care, proper nutrition, better food choices, exercise, and a healthy mindset) and remove the rocks that are already there (by decreasing toxic and deficient choices i.e. not caring for your spine and nervous system, improper nutrition, eating GMO foods, sedentary lifestyle, chronic negative mindset), then our body no longer has a reason to express the five pillars. Without any of the five pillars, we do not develop chronic illness.
Our lifestyle choices are the keystones in this relationship between chronic illness and the environment. The choice no longer becomes inherited due to faulty genes, but the genetic expression of those genes dictated by your environment that you, for the most part, get to control! So choose wisely!
Dr. Matt Hammett is a native of the Chicago-land area. He attended Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College, was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa scholastic honor fraternity and National Deans List. He then attended Palmer College of Chiropractic and graduated with a Doctorate in Chiropractic. During his studies at Palmer, he participated on a clinic abroad trip to Brazil where he received his vision to dedicate his practice and life purpose on the attainment of health and wellness for families. He is the best selling co-author of Inspire Chiropractic, and a public health lecture inspired from the research from his colleague, Dr. James Chestnut called The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness. He and his wife, Dr. Trish Hammett maintains a successful busy practice in Merrillville, IN. He can be reached at:
New Life Family Chiropractic Center
3610 W. 80th Ln – Merrillville, IN 46410
1. World Health Organization. The Cancer Report.
2. Rising Incidence of Breast Cancer among young women in Washington State, Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 1987.
3. Pain Physician 2007; 10:339-424. National Drug control Policy and Prescription Drug Abuse: Facts and Fallacies. Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD.
4. The burden of Chronic Disease on Business and US competitiveness, 2009. www.prevent.org/data/files/News/pfcdalmanac_excerpt.pdf
5. Epigenetics: Journal of the DNA Methylation Society
6. Dr. James Chestnut B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C., C.C.W.P. www.thewellnesspractice.com/