As the season shifts and the temperature drops, the risk of coming down with a cold, flu or other illness typically increases.

It’s been many long months since COVID-19 was confirmed here in the states. To say it’s been an unpredictable and stressful time is an understatement.

While I view the latest COVID-19 predictions with healthy skepticism, you may find the warnings of another surge alarming, particularly when combined with cold and flu season.

But you have far more control over your own health and susceptibility to illness than you’ve been led to believe.

Your body is miraculous and beautiful beyond words.

Just think of all the incredible things it does FOR YOU, every second of every day – breathing, moving, thinking, feeling, processing food, building healthy cells, and always searching for harmful viruses, bacteria and other microbes to eliminate from your body.

The choices you make every day either support or hinder all these intricate, essential processes.

I’m seeing a lot of advice about boosting immune function. Most of it is well-intentioned and solid advice (although there are definitely companies that are taking advantage of people’s fears).

Is taking Vitamin C, Zinc and other immune supplements the proper course of action?

As a clinical nutritionist, I have the unique benefit of seeing which microbes are showing up in my private clients, and how the body is being affected. And I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this.

I started my practice in 2004, so to say that 2020 has been a year like no other is noteworthy.

The typical presentation of any short-term illness starts with symptoms such as congestion, fatigue, etc. My findings would show a temporary drop in the strength of the immune glands, often accompanied by a stressed lymphatic system.

A few whole food nutritional supplements to support those areas typically resulted in a quick recovery of those functions, as well as complete relief from the symptoms.

Just after Christmas 2019, I started to see a lot of viral activity in every single one of my clients. Some were uncomfortable with loose stools, constipation, feeling run down, etc. Others just didn’t feel right but couldn’t describe anything more than that.

I did not find disruptions in their immune function and/or lymphatic systems. What I did find was compromised detoxification pathways, i.e. weakness in the kidneys and large intestine. And this was true for all my clients.

A drop in ability to detoxify creates an elevated level of toxins. More toxins in the body means your cells, tissues, organs, glands and other systems can’t be as healthy and optimized as they are meant to be.

Tissues not in full health are a perfect place for microbes like viruses to settle in, multiply and thrive. The long-term implications of weak tissues that harbor viruses are unknown. Will it cause a significant infection in time? Will the tissues continue to decline and develop disease?

These findings completely changed the way I’ve been treating my clients all year. To put it simply, this is a whole body “problem”.

That’s why focusing on your immune system alone falls short in our current circumstances. You need your body to be a place where microbes have difficulty making themselves at home.

The good news is, there’s a lot YOU can do to create such an environment.


Focusing on hydration is the fastest way to support your body’s ability to detoxify, and increase your energy and brain function. Yes, you’ll have to use the bathroom more often – toxins need to be flushed out!

I recommend ½ of your body weight in ounces of clean, filtered water daily (more if you consume sugar, caffeine and alcohol, as those pull water from your cells and tissues).

How it helps your immune system and ability to stay healthy:

A toxic body creates the perfect environment for microbes like viruses to thrive. Supporting your body’s ability to flush toxins is essential. And properly hydrated tissues are healthier and more resistant to infection.

Additionally, hydration helps with focus and energy. Feeling better increases happiness, which releases chemicals that increase health in every cell of the body.


Properly grown and raised plants and animals provide the essential nutrients your body needs to run all of the complex functions it performs for you every day. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, bioflavonoids, enzymes, phytochemicals and more must be consumed to give your body the raw materials it requires.

Acquire what is essential to your body by consuming a wide variety of real food without chemicals, preservatives, processing, additives, etc. Doing so will help keep your immune glands, lymphatic system and all the tissues and systems of your body in good condition and functioning at their best.

How it helps your immune system and ability to stay healthy:

A strong immune and lymphatic system will ensure your body can identify and defeat viruses and other microbes that are a threat to your health.

Strong tissues are not good hosts to viruses and other microbes. If they can’t find a supportive place to settle in, they’ll leave your body much more quickly.


The value of sleep is so underappreciated in our society.

I’ve heard countless people say they don’t need a lot of sleep, that they don’t have enough time to sleep, or that sleep is a waste of time.

And those same people are often living on caffeine and sugar or carbohydrates all day long to get them through the day.

But sleep is about MUCH more than just feeling rested and being able to focus and be productive. So many things happen overnight! Your detoxification pathways are hard at work clearing toxins, your cells and tissues are breaking down old cells and replacing them with new ones, your brain is cleaning itself, and more! Probably much of it not even identified by science yet.

And if you’re anything like me, a lot of mental and emotional processing happens overnight.

How it helps your immune system and ability to stay healthy:

New cells free of toxins are not good hosts for microbes like viruses to hide, multiply or live in.

Cortisol, the primary long-term stress hormone, drops overnight. Cortisol suppresses your immune function. Lowering it overnight reduces or removes that interference and allows your immune system to work hard on your behalf.

The immune response is energy intensive, so sleep gives your body the rest it needs to funnel its considerable resources into a heightened and effective immune response.


Rest and sleep are NOT the same.

If you’re busy from the moment you wake up until the time you fall into bed, you’re missing out on the benefits of intentional down time.

Quiet time during the day creates space to think clearly, make important decisions, consider what deserves your attention, what you could use help with, how you could be more efficient, whether you’re actually enjoying how you spend your time, and so much more.

How it helps your immune system and ability to stay healthy:

If you’re always on the run, your sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive and your body surges the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses your immune response.

With intentional rest built into your day, you can shift into parasympathetic nervous system mode, which is essential for optimal immune response, digestion and absorption of the nutrients needed to run all of your bodily functions.

Reducing Toxins

While your body is well-equipped to process toxins, it has not evolved the capacity to handle the massive amounts of toxins that are currently in the environment, in the products you use, and the things you consume.

It’s vital that you reduce your toxin exposure in the ways that you can, so your detoxification pathways can handle the things that are beyond your control.

Everything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body, so overhauling your personal care products is a good place to start. A resource like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin-Deep Database is a great place to find out how safe (or toxic) your personal care products are.

It’s also an excellent place to find products from companies that offer non-toxic options.

I invite you to make a list of all the products you use – shampoo and hair care products, skin care products like body wash and lotion, deodorant, makeup, etc., and invest some time in looking them all up in the EWG database. If you can’t find your product listed, you can plug in the individual ingredients to get a feel for the potential toxicity or safety of that product.

They also have a household cleaning product database that I encourage you to use in the same way.

Consider bedding, towels, furniture, etc. Many products contain flame retardants, stain resistant coatings and other chemicals that off-gas and contaminate the air you breathe. Opening windows can help, but finding organic and non-toxic options whenever possible is wise. An air purifier is also worth your consideration (I use all of these tactics).

How it helps your immune system and ability to stay healthy:

Toxins are a potential source of food that viruses and other microbes feed on.

Body tissues burdened with toxins are compromised and are ideal places for viruses and other microbes to thrive.

Reducing the energy your body has to mobilize for detoxification frees up resources that can be put to much better use such as heightening your immune response, digesting and absorbing nutrients, etc. These functions create healthy tissues that are more resistant to invading microbes.


Our bodies are designed for a wide variety of movement.

There are many exercises you can do at home. YouTube has tons of videos and there are many online subscriptions available as well.

My favorite way to start the day is with a long walk outside.

How it helps your immune system and ability to stay healthy:

Movement improves the motion of your lymphatic system, which is a key component of strong immune and detoxification systems.

It also increases the release of neurotransmitters, the feel-good brain chemicals your body makes that help you stay calm and happy. Movement further releases hormones that signal for the break-down of old tissue and the creation of new, healthy tissue.

And getting outside for a walk also establishes a connection to nature, which is incredibly good for your mood, energy and overall health (you can easily find the science on this on the internet).

Managing Stress

Your body considers stress to be life-threatening, as if a large animal is viewing you as its next meal. It pulls the considerable resources of your body away from fighting microbes, digesting, healing, detoxifying, etc. and concentrates it all into run/hide/stay alive.

Disengaging from fear and drama-based news (especially with strong images), spending time engaged in activities you enjoy, being with people who love you for who you are, enjoying meaningful conversation, dreaming and planning for an exciting future, are all supportive of shifting your body out of stress mode and back into fighting microbes, digesting, healing and creating healthy tissues.

How it helps your immune system and ability to stay healthy:

Without stress stealing your body’s resources, you restore your body’s ability to focus on a strong immune response, fortify tissues that aren’t as strong as they could be, and develop a body that feels amazing and able to rebound and thrive no matter what comes your way.

Cortisol, the primary long-term stress hormone, suppresses your immune function. Reducing your stress reduces cortisol and allows your immune response to be active and engaged.

Finding the magical, sweet spot unique to you:

We all have basic needs. And we are all unique. The needs of your body will shift and change based on what’s going on inside of and around you.

Your nutritional and other lifestyle needs will vary based on what you are dealing with and trying to achieve and…

…not every healthy food will be a good fit for your body…

…the non-toxic personal care products that I love may not work for your skin or hair type…

…stress will shift and the lifestyle practices that you find soothing may be totally different from your best friend’s or partner’s preferences…

…you will need more or less sleep depending on your unique body, how well you are taking care of yourself, and whether you’re fighting a virus or other harmful microbe…

Listen to your own body and tweak your choices based on how you feel and what feels good for you. It’s how you find the sweet spot and move from getting by to feeling amazing!

In addition to getting the foundational pieces we’ve been exploring into place, creating a health support team can do wonders for every aspect of your health.

Enlist talented practitioners to help you understand where you are at and what dietary shifts, supplementation protocols, healing modalities and lifestyle adjustments are best suited for your unique body and goals.

This advice is PURE GOLD! There’s no way I would have the vitality I enjoy today without muscle testing, whole food supplementation protocols, bodywork techniques such as massage and fascial release, movement practices, deep consideration of who I am and how I want my life to be, and exploration and shifting of my beliefs.

Many of these things will be a part of my life forever.

We aren’t meant to do everything on our own. Even earlier human groups or tribes had at least one member that was a skilled healer whom everyone relied on.

And you don’t have to do everything at once. Implementing small changes can make a big impact.

You’re stronger than you realize and your body is incredibly capable.

“My pleasure is a prayer that brings me back to life.” ~Meggan Watterson

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