Dealing with Chronic Illness:
The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness

Dr. Matt Hammett
October 18, 2012

If you think dealing with chronic illness as an adult is difficult, consider this:

If the current trends merely continue, in 2020, the vast majority of our kids will be obese by the time they’re 13 years old.

Not half of them like they are now, but a vast majority of them will be obese.

They will have type 2 diabetes.

Children 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.

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 15 million (1).

In 1972, there were only about 6 cases of breast cancer diagnosed per 100,000 California women each year, but 26 years later, the number had risen by over 500% (2). That corresponds to almost 1 in 3,000 women in California who will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Every year for the past 50 years, spending on drugs and surgery designed for dealing with chronic illness per person has increased in the United States. 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 population is dealing with chronic illness, which includes our children (4).

Clearly there is a staggering health problem in our country and countries around the world. Fortunately, the research shows that there is a common link. And once we begin to understand the cause of all this disease, we can address it… not just medicate it.

Most of these illnesses can be 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.

Science continues to demonstrate that over 95% of these illnesses are truly preventable — they are not “genetic” in the sense that has been so long perpetuated in American culture.

We do not inherit a static health destiny. Our lifestyle choices and our environmental choices determine whether or not our genes will express health and wellness. This relationship between the environment and our genetic expression is summarized by a break-through in science, called the Science of Epigenetics (5). It will soon cause our biology textbooks to be rewritten.

The study of chronic illness has confirmed that there are clearly some direct relationships. Science suggests that we do not develop any of the aforementioned chronic illnesses due to random chance or faulty genetics. Our 2 CD set “5 Pillars of Chronic Illness” explores 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” deals with how our bodies respond to a multifaceted arena of accumulated stress. Chronic illness develops after our environment and lifestyle bombard these 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 are what precedes a cooked egg! Using this analogy, we begin to understand that the 5 pillars of chronic illness act upon our health to alter it. Once we understand the 5 pillars of chronic illness, and the role stressors play, we can begin to fully restore health, and start truly dealing with chronic illness.

The five pillars are innately intelligent physiological adaptations. The body uses these methods in order to adapt to the environment. They are inherently useful for survival. These pillars are recruited in response to states of Toxicity and Deficiency.

The science supports that 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, Dr. James Chestnut put it best: "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)." It’s this allostatic load that results in the physiological stress response and the 5 pillars of chronic illness.

Therefore, if we can prevent putting rocks into our backpack in the first place (by consistently making pure and sufficient lifestyle choices, like 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 like not caring for your spine and nervous system, eating GMO foods and improper nutrition, choosing a sedentary lifestyle, suffering from a 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.

You can learn more about the 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness in our 2-CD set. Plus, 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 joining the 20% who are not dealing with chronic illness, and even reverse those illnesses that currently plague you and your family.

Our lifestyle choices are the keystones in this relationship between chronic illness and the environment. Your health no longer becomes inherited due to faulty genes, but the genetic expression dictated by your environment that you, for the most part, get to control! So choose wisely!


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.

5. Epigenetics: Journal of the DNA Methylation Society

6. Dr. James Chestnut B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C., C.C.W.P.

New Life Family Chiropractic Center
3610 W. 80th Ln - Merrillville, IN 46410

Dr. Matt Hammett is a Chicago-land native who received his Bachelors Degree from Northern Illinois University, and his Doctorate in Chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic. While participating in a clinic abroad trip to Brazil, he decided to dedicate his practice and life purpose to the attainment of health and wellness for whole 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 maintain a successful busy practice and a growing family in Merrillville, IN.

Disclaimer: did not, and will not receive any compensation for this post. It is being shared here purely on the basis of its scientific validity and its value to natural health.

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