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Fred Swegles

By Fred Swegles

Could a South Orange County voice instructor have discovered a way to prevent—or minimize the risks of—exposure to coronavirus?

Thomas Appell is convinced he has. A healthy diet.

In 2004, he wrote a book, Never Get Another Cold.

His premise is that our American diet is so laden with sugar that we lay out the welcome mat for viruses.

Appell, 65, used to suffer regularly from colds and the flu—as did his voice students. So he went around asking people, “How often do you get sick?” He began querying anyone who didn’t. A common thread emerged.

People seemingly invulnerable to viruses avoided sugar, ate primarily a plant-based diet and drank lots of water. Appell provides a video testimonial, from a woman who hasn’t had the flu in 55 years, at youtube/AeYapvCkosE.

He suggests that if people will just take a break from their typical diet during this coronavirus emergency, lives can be saved and people exposed can fare much better.

OK, so we’re supposed to ditch pizza, pasta, hamburgers, alcohol, donuts, junk food? Do we need to be perfect?

“Straying a little here or there isn’t that bad, as long as you don’t gorge on sugar,” Appell says. “If we get sugary foods off the table for the next month, we’re likely going to see the whole corona threat become manageable.”

Details are in an updated, illustrated coronavirus edition of his book, available in PDF for $9.95 at

It’s up to the individual to decide for themselves how safe they want to be. Zero tolerance is safest. However far you stray from a zero tolerance for sugar determines your risk level.

Thomas Appell

Appell also has put together a COVID-19 Prevention Plan, appealing to President Trump to allocate funding to let him assemble a task force seeking volunteers in three groups:

— Agree to cut out all sugar from their diet (includes soft drinks, energy drinks, candy, ice cream, desserts, etc.).

— Agree to cut out all sugar and refined carbs (anything made with white flour or white rice) from their diet.

— Agree to cut out all sugar and refined carbs, and drink at least two liters of water per day.

“It’s my belief,” he says, “that all groups will experience a dramatic decrease in the number of coronavirus cases compared to the public at large.”

We asked him about it:

What led you to seek a solution?

For my whole life, I had been plagued with the flu and colds. Starting in December 2001, I had three terrible virus/flu/cold episodes in less than a year. I’m a vocal coach, and when I’m sick, I can’t sing. It became my mission in life to find out how to stop my lifelong history of colds and flu. 

How did you do it?

I just started asking everyone I met, “When was the last time you had the flu or a cold?” If they said anything more than a decade, I was all ears and started asking questions.

How did you test this?

Once I knew what to do, I stopped getting sick. Then I tracked down the sickest singers I coached and asked them to do it along with me. I ended up tracking the results of six people. The group had 27 cold/flu episodes in the year prior to starting the diet. In the two years after starting out, only one person caught a cold once. That translates to a 98-percent decrease in episodes. Then 16 more years of seeing the same results, over and over.

What is the diet?

Eat alkaline foods and limit acidic foods. For flu prevention, the No. 1 thing to do is avoid any food that causes your blood glucose level to spike. Drinking a liter of water per day for every 50 pounds of body weight also really helps.

Some foods to avoid?

For perfect health, everyone has to nix or really limit anything with a high sugar content, or food that after digestion converts to sugar, like refined wheat. This includes soft drinks, candy, pizza, pasta and doughnuts. I have to really watch how much high-sugar fruit, like pineapple or peaches, I eat. A big fruit salad can have just as much sugar as a 20-ounce Coke.

Why stop eating sugary foods?

The International Diabetes Federation states, “The Coronavirus may thrive in an environment of elevated blood glucose (sugar).” This is exactly what I’ve found with myself and all the people I’ve worked with for 16 years. 

What foods should you eat?

Salads are great. My first meal is a salad with avocados, spinach and cucumber, fresh squeezed lime juice and small amounts of low-sugar fruits like blueberries and a greenish banana to add some nice flavor. Most vegetables are great—raw or cooked, with the exception of corn, since corn has such a high sugar content.

What about meat?

I don’t eat meat, so I won’t get heart disease. But small amounts of meat appear to not have much of a significant impact on catching a virus.

Do you really expect people to give up pizza, pasta and sugar?

In the past, no. In 2020, with the risk of death and an economic meltdown from fear of contracting the coronavirus, yes. Zero tolerance for refined sugar is safest. But small amounts can be OK as long as you don’t spike your blood glucose level. This is why the virus is spreading so fast. Countries that have a diet that leads to elevated glucose levels are at high risk.

Is it hard adapting to your diet?

It’s not a challenge at all. It’s delicious. And you feel so good after getting rid of all of the sugary sweets.

What would you say to our leaders?

We can’t afford to shut down the country every time COVID-19 rears its ugly head. I believe I can save America a trillion dollars, but, more importantly, save many lives. Containment and quarantine are temporary—prevention is best. Prevention through diet is our silver bullet.

How quickly does your diet take effect?

Results are nearly instantaneous. After a person stops eating the foods that causes a virus to thrive, they stop becoming a potential host.


Occupation: Owner of Appell Voice Studio, author of Can You Sing a High C Without Straining before also writing Never Get Another Cold

Background: Lived in San Clemente from 1987-1999; a regular in the surf lineup at Lower Trestles; still in town 3-4 days a week to surf Lowers

Residence: Coto de Caza


Mike Finnerty:

Appeal To President:

Fred Swegles is a longtime San Clemente resident with nearly five decades of reporting experience in the city. Fred can be reached at

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