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How to Play the Immune Game

We are all feeling overwhelmed with information regarding the coronavirus, and it is can be difficult to distinguish between credible and not so credible information. With the abundance of information available in the media and elsewhere, it’s important to only seek out trusted sources for actionable tips and science-based information. The following are the tips shared from Dr. Bill Sears, from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Practical Tips for Staying Healthy

1. Don’t Worry, Just Be Cautious

Prolonged worry and stress weakens the immune system. A weakened immune system is more susceptible to viruses and other illnesses. While we do need to remain informed during the potentially serious threat posed by the coronavirus, but it may be prudent to limit the amount of time you spend watching the news and reading about it on the internet. Remember, we still have control over how we respond and the ability to preload our body to stay healthy now, and in the future.

2. Preload to Protect

One of the most important concepts we teach in our Health Coach Certification courses is what we call “preloading” – equipping your body and immune system with the tools it needs to do its job properly and prevent illness. Preloading helps your natural killer (NK) cells, which are a natural germ-fighting army inside each one of us. Your body contains trillions of these NK cells, which are constantly on the lookout for germs and viruses (and even cancer cells) within your body that may negatively affect your health. Like magnets, these NK cells attach themselves to foreign pathogens and destroy them by blasting them with biochemical “bullets”.

Tips to Preload

  • Focus on healthy, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and seafood like wild-caught salmon.

  • Limit your intake of sugar by avoiding “added sugar” on food labels and choosing fruit-infused water or plain sparkling water instead of sugary beverages.

  • Move more, sit less – research shows that more movement kicks the immune system into gear and makes your NK cells better able to fight off invaders.

3. Avoid spreading germs with your hands

Do not shake hands or hug, a bow or fist/elbow bump is a better choice.

Avoid direct contact with the most common surfaces that the virus is likely to live on: light switches, doorknobs, toilet handles, elevator buttons, handles and handrails, gasoline pumps, and other highly touched areas. If you don’t have a wipe, use your knuckles or two hands with knuckles to turn knobs.

Wipe shopping cart handles with disinfectant wipes if they are available. If not, bring your own (see below for how to make your own hand sanitizer) or else use disposable gloves.

4. Cover Your Mouth

Ideally, use a disposable napkin if you need to cough or sneeze, or, as a last resort, cough/sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Clothes can harbor the virus for a week or more, so be careful that others don’t touch your sleeve. Do not use your hand to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

5. Scrub Your Hands

Wash your hands thoroughly and often, using soap and water. The CDC recommends the following five steps for proper hand washing:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (the same time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song two times).

  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

6. Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

With most store-bought hand sanitizers “out of stock”, we recommend considering making your own with a combination of rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel. Be sure the rubbing alcohol is 91% or more.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe

2 parts rubbing alcohol (91%)

1 part aloe vera gel

8-10 drops of essential oils (such as Tea Tree or Lavender) to mask the odor of the alcohol


Pour rubbing alcohol, aloe vera, and essential oils into a bowl or measuring cup. Use a fork or whisk to stir and combine ingredients. Pour into one or more small bottles. Leave these bottles in common locations such as next to the home entrance door, in your car, even in your pocket – locations where you may encounter others but may not have soap and water readily available.

7. Refrain From Touching Your Face

Most of us rub our eyes, nose, and mouth almost a hundred times a day. This is a bad habit that can quickly transmit the virus from face to hand or from hand to face. As far as we know, the COVID-19 virus infects lungs as its main entry point, which brings us to the question of should you wear a mask. Since this virus is spread by respiratory droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing, you might think a mask should protect you from coughing the virus onto someone else and vice versa. However, the typical masks sold in stores are not protective enough. The ones that are protective are so tightly fitting that it’s almost impossible to talk while wearing them. If you are sick, and must be around others, wearing a mask may help protect those around you.

8. Only Follow Trusted Resources

Follow trusted resources on the coronavirus, such as found at the CDC website.

9. Preload Your Immune System With Smart Foods

Smart foods are also considered real foods, including fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Especially during flu season, our family preloads our bodies with an immune-boosting smoothie in the morning, and a veggie and seafood-rich dinner in the evening. Try to consume foods especially high in zinc, such as eggs, nuts, legumes, and shellfish. (More to come with specific nutrient recommendations for immune support)

In Summary

To summarize, the best ways to thrive and minimize the threat of the coronavirus it to: don’t worry, be happy; preload your body; eat more fruits, vegetables and seafood; go outside and play; wash your hands; and keep coughing, sneezing, and touching to yourself.

Also, finding techniques to reduce stress is key. Some modes that might interest you are meditation, EFT (also known as Tapping), gratitude journaling or yoga. I also find diffusing essential oils can be very relaxing and really change the mood of a room. If you are looking for therapeutic quality essential oils to make your own hand sanitizer or to diffuse, let me know I would love to help you.

Stay well!

Shelly Bergeron

Functional Medicine Health Coach and Nontoxic Tutor

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