Jackie McKool

It’s All About Self-Induced Inflammation!

When I talk about wholistic health, and more specifically sickness, I’m talking about chronic and degenerative diseases. I’m not talking about acute injuries or illnesses. I’m not talking about, rare, off-the-wall kinds of disease. I’m talking about the common chronic diseases we hear about every day – diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, hormone imbalances, digestive disorders, arthritis, mental/emotional imbalances, auto-immune conditions, and even cancers and so much more. These make up the 70-80% of preventable diseases that Americans, including children, are being diagnosed with every day. And do you know what the common denominator of all of these diseases is? Inflammation. And the key word that I want you to hear is “preventable.” And to put it more bluntly, preventable=self-induced. If you are ready to hear some hard truths, then read on.

Let’s Start with a Little Anatomy – the Adrenals

The adrenal glands are two triangular shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney. These two little glands have so many major functions, and yet unless there is a full-blown pathological problem with them (which is fairly uncommon, thankfully), they are tremendously overlooked by traditional medicine. And yet they are so vital to our life and our health that we can’t live without at least one of these glands.

First, I’ll cover the different functions of the adrenal glands, and then go into more detail about the good and bad effects they have on our health.

Cortisol – What is it?

The first major role of the adrenal glands is to release a hormone called cortisol. Too little of this hormone makes us vulnerable to inflammation and hypoglycemia. Too much makes us vulnerable to autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and a lowered immunity making us susceptible to viruses, bacteria, and cancer.

There are Four Words That are Interchangeable…

If you don’t remember anything else from this blog, remember these four words:


But the two words you probably hear every day, especially as it relates to our health, are: Stress and Inflammation. As you read on, when you see the word “stress” you can replace it with “inflammation” and vice a versa, they will mean the same thing.

Typically, the first thing we think of when we hear the word “stress” is mental and/or emotional stress, such as family, financial, health, or career issues. But stress is also physical (e.g., having surgery, breaking your arm, not sleeping well, or over-exercising), and there are chemical stresses too (like the foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, medications, etc.). Some things are more in our control than others in regard to minimizing the stresses to our health and our bodies; our diet is one of them. Cigarettes and sodas (of any kind) are probably the two worst chemical assaults we make on our bodies.

The adrenal glands, and cortisol in particular, responds to all of these inflammatory stressors. In time, this overworks the adrenal glands and throws them out of balance, which then affects all the other roles they perform as well. What are those other roles?

Other Major Functions of the Adrenals

  1. Adrenal glands also release hormones called epinephrine and norepinephrine. These are your “fight or flight” hormones. If a bear is chasing you in the woods, these hormones tell the digestive system, urinary system, and other functions to slow down while at the same time kicking the muscles, heart, and lungs into gear: you need to run, not digest your food—a bear is chasing you! This is that “adrenaline rush” we all probably have experienced at some time in our lives—maybe not due to a bear, but perhaps a quick scare of some other kind. Helping our bodies deal with these things is partly why we have adrenal glands. However, when we are constantly on the go, foot on the gas pedal of life full throttle, 24/7 for days, weeks, months, and even years on end, we can burn out our adrenal glands. Once that happens, they are not able to properly perform their functions, leading to a multitude of health problems. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are brain chemicals too, and they work with our other brain chemicals, e.g., dopamine, serotonin, GABA, leptin, and melatonin, these hormones regulate our mood, appetite, sleep, and so much more. If the adrenals are out of balance because these hormones are constantly being released, we could experience symptoms like anxiety, depression, insomnia, excessive hunger, etc.
  2. Another role of the adrenal glands is to tell the liver to release glucose, our body’s natural energy source and our brain’s fuel. Glucose is vital to life and we cannot live without it. This is why we can’t live without at least one adrenal gland. Symptoms like brain fog, lack of energy/fatigue, and blood sugar highs and lows can be a result of the adrenals being out of balance.
  3. Cortisol is also upstream of the hormonal pathways that are constantly flowing in the body. In particular and in part, it is formed from cholesterol and then ultimately plays a role in the production of our reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
  4. Also, the adrenals release a hormone called aldosterone that signals the kidneys to regulate the fluid levels in our body, particularly those at work inside and outside our cells, including the blood cells. Things like edema and blood pressure imbalances can be a result of the adrenals being out of balance.

Stress and inflammation are huge culprits and essentially the “root” of not only the adrenal glands being thrown out of balance, but the root of all chronic and degenerative diseases. I hope you can already see how important the adrenal glands are to not only some major functions of our body, but to our overall health.

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I would encourage you to make a list of some of the causes of stress in your life—mental/emotional, chemical, and physical—and be thinking about how you can start changing these. Here’s a tip: the chemical stresses are usually easier to change than the mental/emotional ones, so start there. Other stressors are:

  • Lack of deep sleep—going to bed too late, and/or waking in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep are some examples.
  • Eating an inflammatory diet—fast food, fried food, packaged and processed foods, and sugars (this one is huge!). The foods that heal, or are non-inflammatory, are fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, good fats, and water.
  • Being dehydrated—water flushes the waste and toxins out of the body on a daily basis. If you are dehydrated, these toxins stay in you causing inflammation in the body.
  • Lack of exercise—prayer and exercise are much better stress relievers than an anxiety or depression medication.
  • Nerve interference in the spine—the nerve roots coming from the thoracic spine (the middle part of your back) go to the adrenal glands. Most people have nerve interference unless they are having their spines maintained on a regular basis with the help of a chiropractor.
  • Dietary and lifestyle choices that directly affect your health like cigarettes and sodas can lead to a decline in your health, as do gluten, cow’s milk (including ice cream, even when it’s organic) and sugar. If you avoid these, you may very well see a tremendous improvement in your health from the inflammation they can cause. In fact, cow’s milk is the number one hidden food sensitivity and very inflammatory. When we consume foods that we are knowingly or unknowingly sensitive to, they also can cause inflammation in the body. Avoiding hidden food sensitivities is very important for your children too—especially if they are struggling with attention problems, sleep problems, and/or autism.

Nutrient Deficiencies and Inflammation

Here are some of the nutrients that are compromised when the body is stressed:

  • Cholesterol
  • Vitamins and minerals (e.g., B vitamins, magnesium, to name a few)
  • Enzymes
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Proteins
  • Oxygen
  • Glucose

And here are just a few of the physical health problems that occur as a direct result of the body being stressed:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hormone Imbalances
  • Hypertension
  • Auto-immune conditions

Being Healthy is Not Measured by How Much Weight You Lost

A better measuring stick is to determine whether the foods you eat are inflammatory foods or non-inflammatory foods. Remember, inflammation is at the root of all chronic and degenerative diseases. It stands to reason, then, that we should avoid foods that cause inflammation in the body. It’s not about the calories, it’s about nutrients and the level of inflammation – minimize inflammation, weight is lowered. Too much inflammation, you can consume a 500 calorie per day diet and you will continue to struggle with weight problems – even if you do initially lose weight.

Here is what I call the “short list” of inflammatory foods (also known as “acidic pH” foods) and the short list of non-inflammatory foods (also known as “alkalizing pH” foods):

Inflammatory Foods

  • Fast Food
  • Fried Foods
  • PACKAGED and PROCESSED foods (this list of foods is huge)
  • Sugars
  • Animal Products *
  • Grains *

*These last 2 are real foods, and can be eaten, but if you are going to consume them, I would highly encourage you to eat them in their organic, grass-fed, GMO-free, non-antibiotics or no growth hormone, form. When you consume these foods in their conventional form, you are consuming foods that have been genetically modified and/or fed genetically modified feed.

The first 4 however, aren’t even real foods; they are “food-like substances.” These foods have little to NO nutritional value to them, and in fact, they are literally killing us. Don’t be deceived by the front of the packaging, this is their billboard, their marketing space, not the truth when it comes to nutritional value, and especially when it comes to ingredients.

And this is the “short list” of non-inflammatory foods – healing foods, foods that can be our medicine:

Non-Inflammatory Foods

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Good Fats (e.g., avocados, flax seed, olive oil, coconut oil – LOVE my coconut oil!)
  • Water

These foods are healthy and healing to the body. You can have 4,000 calories of vegetables if you want, and you will not get fat. And truthfully, the same goes for the good fats—well okay, maybe not 4,000 calories of coconut oil, but these good fats will not “make you fat,” inflammation does!

I encourage you to use these lists as your new filter when trying to determine if a food is healing or killing you. There are many wonderful recipes out there using the short list of non-inflammatory foods. Look up “raw food” recipes or “alkalizing foods” or even non-inflammatory food recipes. You will be amazed at what you can do with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and the good fats. And the recipes truly are delicious!

It’s Not Too Expensive to Eat Healthy!

Now, before you say “this takes too much time” or “I can’t afford to eat real food”—remember the mental quadrant of the health pie (time management, budget, etc.) can have a tremendous impact on our health. I encourage you, if you find yourself making these statements, to reprioritize your time and/or your budget. It literally can mean life or death to you. For now, I am just asking you to trust me and give this new way of thinking about your health – minimizing the stresses and inflammation — a try. It’s not about how much you weigh, or the latest fad diet, it’s about lowering inflammation in your diet and your lifestyle.

Did you miss some of these earlier blogs? These could give you some great insight — especially as you pursue your health journey:
“The Hidden Demise of Children’s Health – in Plain Site”
“Do You Have an Unhealthy Gut and Not Know it?”
“How Committed Are You to Your Wholistic Health?”

 Looking for a great beach read this summer? How about digging your toes in the sand, or swinging in the hammock with a copy of “Are You Being Deceived About Truth Wellness?”

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