The Chronic Dis-ease & Cell Danger Response Connection -- And What You Can Do About It!

Chronic Fatigue and Dis-ease Are The New Norm, NOT The Exception Nowadays!

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, upwards of 60% of adults and 30% of children and teens living within the United States are living with at least one chronic disease. (7)

As sad as that statistic is, it doesn't include those living with undiagnosed life=altering symptoms such as chronic fatigue, body aches and pains, low moods, digestive inflammation, and more. Their condition has not yet been "labeled" or "named" by a medical professional, but it's debilitating, all the same.

According to a survey performed by the National Safety Council, 43% of Americans report feeling too tired at work to function well, and 97% report having at least one of nine major lifestyle risks for chronic daytime fatigue. (8)

If you’re reading this article, it is highly likely that you or somebody you know is somewhere between being diagnosed with a chronic condition and living with chronic symptoms that have not yet been given a “label” – particularly chronic fatigue. 

While chronic fatigue and other physical and mental symptoms and states of dis-ease are common nowadays, they are NOT NORMAL!

Why Are So Many Americans Feeling Chronically Fatigued, Foggy, Fat, and/or Inflamed?


We can’t be the best versions of ourselves when we don’t feel well and are dragging ourselves through our day. What the heck is going on?

It's never just one factor that causes a person to get sucked into the vortex of chronic symptoms, illness, and dis-ease. Chronic dis-ease is a multi-factorial and multi-systemic condition created by a “Perfect Storm” of stressful life experiences and toxic stressors of all kinds.

By toxic stressors, I am referring to factors such as:

  • Inflammatory diets

  • Chronic psychological distress and/or unresolved trauma, particularly ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

  • Poor sleep quality

  • High risk lifestyle habits such as drug and alcohol abuse

  • Impaired digestion > gut dysbiosis > leaky gut > chronic inflammation

  • Environmental toxins

  • And much more!

… Enter Cell Danger Response Mode, Stage Left!


All of the factors mentioned above trigger cellular distress which is scientifically known as Cell Danger Response Mode (CDR).

What exactly is CDR? I will try to keep this as simple as possible. Here goes!

It begins with mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of our cells.

Mitochondria have two primary roles:

Role #1: To convert nutrients from the food we digest and assimilate it in useable energy (ATP) for our cells.

Role #2: To monitor our environments (both inside and outside the body) for threats.

We Need "Peacetime Mode" to Stay Healthy!

During “peacetime mode,” when mitochondria do not sense threats, our cells perform their jobs well.

Some of their jobs include, but are not limited to:

  • Produce energy so we can live active lives.

  • Make neurotransmitters, which stabilize moods and ensure good mental health status.

  • Regulate blood sugar and hormones, which helps maintain healthy weight.

  • Optimize detoxification so that our bodies get rid of more toxins than they take in.

  • Replenish energy stores in our brain so that we can experience peak mental performance.

  • Initiate autophagy, (a fancy word for cellular cleansing and regeneration) so that we remain healthy, strong, and dis-ease free.

  • And so much more!

"Chronic Defense Mode" Leads to Chronic Dis-ease!

When mitochondria sense threats, they shift out of energy producing and regenerative mode into defense mode, otherwise known as Cell Danger Response.

CDR is an innate protective mechanism designed to spare the body from damage, eradicate pathogens, and get rid of toxins.

Dr. Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, and mitochondria health expert, explains it as the following:

“The cell danger response (CDR) is the evolutionarily conserved metabolic response that protects cells and hosts from harm. It is triggered by encounters with chemical, physical, or biological threats that exceed the cellular capacity for homeostasis.

When the CDR persists abnormally, whole body metabolism and the gut microbiome are disturbed, the collective performance of multiple organ systems is impaired, behavior is changed, and chronic disease results.

An understanding of the CDR permits us to reframe old concepts of pathogenesis for a broad array of chronic, developmental, autoimmune, and degenerative disorders.” (2)

Amidst CDR, the cell membrane becomes rigid, not allowing molecules in or out of the cell and all life-giving functions slow way down or come to a grinding halt. 

A cascade of inflammatory immune responses is also set in motion.

It is this very type of inflammation that causes us to feel achy, feverish, and fatigued when we have the flu. The flu bug, or virus, does NOT make us feel ill, but rather our cells' inflammatory response to the flu bug.

In the short term, we need and want Cell Danger Response to kick in! It is a necessary, life-saving function. The problem arises in the long term, however, when this response does not shut off due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • An infection or toxin remains in the body.

  • Due to cellular memory, the cells of the body continue to respond as if it an infection or toxin is still present even after it has been eradicated.

  • The cells are continuously overwhelmed by tremendous stressors that they cannot overcome, which ultimately leads to loss of metabolic adaptation.

When any of these scenarios happens, the cells of the body become stuck in a viscous cycle of never being able to adequately recover from stressors, which then leads to states of low cellular energy and chronic inflammation.

Chronic low cellular energy and inflammation are linked to a long list of chronic health challenges with the most prevalent being:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

  • CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome)

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Interstitial Cystitis

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases

  • Asthma

  • Gluten and many other food and chemical sensitivity syndromes

  • Emphysema

  • Tourette's Syndrome

  • Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia,  post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidal ideation

  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • Epilepsy

  • Diabetes

  • Kidney, liver, and heart disease

  • Cancer

  • Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease

  • Autoimmune disorders like Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Multiple sclerosis

What Can You Do!? LOTS!!! 

If you take away anything from all the information I’ve presented thus far, take away this:

The low energy and inflammation created by Cell Danger Response is the response to dis-ease, NOT the cause. CDR is a sign that our cells are performing their job really, really well -- protecting us from a multitude of toxic insults that lead to poor health states.

This being said, the KEY to reversing chronic states of poor health is not to solely focus on trying to shut off CDR by bringing things into the body (such as medications or supplements) but instead FIRST focus on removing the factors that are causing the cells to initiate CDR.   

The majority of these stressors are lifestyle driven, which means you can begin to take back control of your health, and thus your life, by considering removal of the factors on the checklist below.

Common Lifestyle and Environmental Triggers of Cell Danger Response

  • Inflammatory diet, food intolerances, and BAD fats (vegetable oils such as canola, corn, soy, etc.). The most common food intolerances are gluten, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, and harmful additives such as colorings, preservatives, MSG, etc.

  • Blue light exposure coming from screens, tech gadgets, and artificial lighting at night.

  • Excessive EMF exposure; especially at night! Note: our cell phones are one of the WORST sources! Keep laptops off your lap! Consider going back to a wired, ethernet internet connection in your home versus WIFI. Learn more by reading: Practical Tips To Protect Yourself Against Toxic EMF Radiation

  • Broken circadian rhythm and lack of regenerative sleep. Learn more by reading: How To Fix A Broken Circadian Rhythm, Get The Restorative Sleep You Need, & Increase Your Energy.

  • Bluetooth headset devices! Use a corded headset instead! (preferably with hollow air tubes). Learn about safe headsets here:

  • Overuse/unhealthy relationship with technology.

  • Fast eating/eating on the run!

  • Multi-tasking (our brains are not designed to do this!)

  • Overworking

  • Lack of positive stimulation in a relaxed state of mind that encourages neuroplasticity (learning new things, puzzles, thought-provoking discussions, etc.)

  • Chronic psychological/emotional stress. and destructive thinking patterns.  Learn more by reading How To Shed Negative Energy & Raise Your Vibration.

  • Refined sugar

  • Under or over exercising

  • Microwaving food (microwaves in general!)

  • AGE’s (advanced glycation end products) that come from cooking animal sources of fat and protein using high-temperature, harsh cooking methods such as broiling, frying, grilling, and roasting. It is best to cook using gentler methods such as low temperature baking or broiling, steaming, boiling, and poaching.

  • Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs are known to damage mitochondria! Psychiatric medications are some of the worse offenders. Learn more here:    mitochondrial-damage

  • Lack of downtime and recovery.

  • Excess body fat.

  • Environmental toxins (mold, poor air quality, excessive EMF’s and blue light, etc.). Here are some air systems I recommend for your consideration:

  • BPA from plastic water bottles and food storage containers. Use glass as often as possible!

  • Pesticides, antibiotics, and GMO’s (eat organic whenever possible)

To wrap this article up, I leave you with this thought:

“The quality of our life and the outcomes we experience are shaped by the quality of our daily habits, our thoughts and beliefs, our self-care, and how we show up in the world. We all have much more power to take control of our health and lives than we have been led to believe” -Jennifer Ellis-Schuetz