Skip to main content

News in the blog

Up-to-date information about treatments, research and more...

Corona protection: mental health

13 April 2021

People keep approaching me asking how dangerous COVID-19 is and how they can protect themselves from COVID-19.

Apart from sticking to the general protective measures, my tip here is to do everything that makes the immune system strong. Because a strong immune system can fight the virus so well that, in the best case, you do get sick with corona, but your immune system fights the virus so well that you don't even notice it, remain symptom-free and there is no danger to you personally.

Psychoneuroimmunology: What makes the immune system strong?

There is a scientifically proven link between psychological well-being and physical health and is referred to by experts as "Psychoneuroimmunology" designated.

What are the mechanisms behind this? For example, studies show that depression boosts the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and at the same time impairs the immune response.

Fear and stress can trigger the body's fight or flight response, which increases cortisol levels and alters immune system responses.

Ensuring good mental health now is a crucial step in strengthening the immune system!

Here are a few practical tips:

Gratitude: Think several times a day about what you are grateful for in your life. This helps to focus your perception on the positive and to be more satisfied.

Minimise fearThe more fear you have, the higher your cortisol level and this has a negative effect on the immune system in the long run. If you behave carefully and responsibly, it is likely that you will stay healthy - perhaps this thought will help you to reduce your anxiety.

Lots of outdoor exerciseExercise in the fresh air, especially in the sun, supports the immune system and boosts vitamin D production. It has also been scientifically proven that regular moderate exercise strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of disease. It seems that even a single workout can strengthen the immune system.

But beware: now is not the optimal time to exercise too intensively: if you "power out" completely, this can actually have a negative effect on your ability to fight off viruses. A healthy approach would be to walk fast for at least 30 minutes a day - by the way, this also produces substances in the brain that improve memory and thinking skills!

Drink enough: To ward off viruses, it is important to have drunk enough. Water provides your brain and body with oxygen so that you can function optimally. Well hydrated, your cells can perform their main functions better. And when your brain is well hydrated, you can better cope with stress and make better decisions to minimise your risk of illness.

Get enough sleep:. One study (Sleep, 2015) found that people who sleep only 6 hours or less, compared to people who sleep more than 7 hours a night, are four times more likely to catch a cold after being exposed to a virus. Other research shows that chronic sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system. If you suffer from sleep disorders, be sure to seek help (e.g. from Dr. Schaffer

). Optimal is 7 to 9 hours per night, and a midday nap can also be very good for body and mind! (Provided they can still sleep well at night).

Prebiotics - gut bacteria as protection: A large part of the immune system lies in the intestine, and a healthy intestinal flora has a correspondingly positive influence on the immune system. The Graz-based company Allergosan recommends, for example, the product "OmniBiotc 6", special intestinal bacteria to strengthen the immune system, but also fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir or kimchi support a healthy intestinal flora.

No or little alcohol: Excessive drinking disrupts the immune system and is even said to make you more susceptible to pneumonia and other diseases!

Garlic not only helps against vampires but also against viruses: In fact, consuming garlic can increase the number of T-cells - the body's natural virus fighters - in the blood. The results of a 2012 study in Clinical Nutrition show that taking aged garlic extract minimises cold and flu symptoms and shortens the duration of viral illnesses.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is formed when we are in the sun or ingested with food and has positive effects on the immune system.

Zinc: supports the immune system and helps your body protect itself from invading viruses and bacteria. "Fill up" with zinc-rich foods such as beef, oysters, lamb, asparagus, spinach and pumpkin seeds.