Petra Bracht, MD, has specialized for over 30 years in the areas of nutrition and
Pain. The doctor, best-selling author and YouTuber explains to us in an interview what we have to watch out for when fighting the Corona virus, what positive effects vegan nutrition has, from the latest state of research and why smokers should definitely keep their hands off the cigarette stick now.
So what's the latest research on the corona virus?
Dr. Petra Bracht: There is still a lot of discussion and research going on at the moment. I find it particularly interesting that there may be a link between the infection and smoking.
In order for SARS-COV-2, as the corona virus is officially known, to enter the human cell at all, it requires a door-opening enzyme. In coronaviruses, it appears to be the ACE-2 enzyme. Many scientists believe that both the Wuhan virus and the SARS virus that affected China in 2002/2003 attack via the ACE2 receptors. This enzyme also seems to play a major role in respiratory symptoms, i.e., constriction of the lungs and thus shortness of breath. Thus, the more of this enzyme is present, the more severe the course of the disease will be. Corona infiltrates the host cell via this enzyme. Just as with SARS and MERS.
A study at the University of South Carolina found that smokers have significantly higher ACE2 levels than nonsmokers.*
There was no difference in gender group, age, or origin. But what was observed was the significantly higher ACE2 occurrence, which can also be called gene expression. Thus, this indicates that smokers may be much more susceptible to corona viruses. I strongly recommend all smokers to quit immediately! If not now, then when, please? This will give you a way to mitigate the aggressiveness of this virus.
A quarter of the Chinese government smokes, and according to market researchers, they do so on average 20 cigarettes a day. A large proportion of these are men. Mortality in men from the above viruses is currently higher than that in women.
If you produce less ACE2, it can ensure that even if you are one of the estimated 66% of those who get it, you can fend off and mitigate the attack. Everyone should take advantage of this opportunity! Then it may only feel like a mild cold.
What do you recommend for those who already feel sick?
Dr. Petra Bracht:
Lie down, rest, 3 days of therapeutic fasting and then interval fasting with high quality plant foods.
The crazy thing is that you feel little to no hunger with both a cold, influenza or the Corona virus. This means that the body is already signaling to us that it doesn’t need food right now. So automatically more autophagy. More autophagy means more viruses to track down and destroy. We just need to believe again in the self-healing powers and nature and not think that we will be healed only by medication!
The autophagy process is the mechanism that occurs during interval fasting and at the same time also detects viruses and can dispose of them. The longer Lent is, the longer this process is. In women, autophagy begins after approximately 12-14 hours of fasting and in men after 14-15 hours, i.e. without food. The University Hospital in Bonn, Charité Berlin and the Max Planck Institute have already discovered this in MERS. Research is therefore currently being conducted into drugs that stimulate the autophagy process. Whole plant foods further accelerate this.
Are there clear symptoms of corona virus?
Dr. Petra Bracht: No, they do not exist. It is something in between a cold and influenza. Whereas you can distinguish a cold from influenza, because in the latter you get quite a high fever within a few hours. This is usually not the case with Corona, but it is also not impossible. Corona infection usually begins more slowly and insidiously. The big problem for us physicians is to tell from this information whether it is a normal cold or it is the corona infection. There are voices that say that Corona also affects the digestive tract, but we currently know far too little about it. There are some who carry the virus and just have a bit of a sore throat and feel a bit flabby – that’s it. The only important thing is that they do not then transmit the virus to people with weaker immune systems.
What is the best protection against the Corona virus?
Dr. Petra Bracht: The virus is transmitted by droplet infection. Therefore, the hygiene of hands and face, distance from your fellow at least two meters, cough and sneeze into the crook of the elbow, as little as possible touch railings and door handles. I also think that wearing protective masks makes a lot of sense given the current state of information. Everyone knows that by now, but the very best protection is and remains your immune system! The intestinal bacteria are the main actors and nourish themselves through our daily food. The best thing you can do to this is organic plant food. Fruits, herbs, vegetables, nuts, legumes, sprouts…
In no case dairy products. Especially for asthmatics. Animal food feeds the bad intestinal bacteria that weaken the immune system. Just 24 hours after you stop eating animal products, your defenses activate and regenerate, strengthening your immune system.
The virologist Christian Drosten from the Charité Berlin expressed this appropriately in the current Stern interview, saying that the current situation should be very convincing to think about a change, as far as the hunger for meat in the expanding society is concerned.
How dangerous is the virus?
Dr. Petra Bracht: Panic is not necessary among young people and those who are healthy. They usually get a “normal” cold infection with a mild sore throat, cough and headache. After 8-10 days it is over again.
Still, the virus is apparently highly contagious and we can expect to get it almost all of us. It is not yet possible to really assess how dangerous it is. 15% of those infected go to the hospital. Many sick and elderly people die as a result. This must be prevented.
Is one immune to the virus after infection?
Dr. Petra Bracht: Research cannot yet say that 100%. The current status is that you cannot get infected a second time within a short period of time. It is believed that we are immune for at least a few weeks months or even 1-2 years after infection.
Why is the virus not dangerous for children?
Dr. Petra Bracht: We can’t say for sure yet, because we’re still doing research here. Virologist Christian Droste of Berlin’s Charité University Hospital currently estimates a mortality rate of 0.3-05% in children. I think that has something to do with the fact that they are not yet completely damaged by processed foods and co.
What do you recommend to all older people?
Dr. Petra Bracht: Anyone who has been eating healthy and exercising regularly can have a strong immune system beyond 60. The digestive system is partly responsible for our immune system. This is because almost 80% of it is housed in the intestine. Poor nutrition ensures that we become more susceptible to pathogens here. No more smoking, no alcohol, no additives, spend lots of time in the fresh air and eat whole, organically controlled plant-based foods. I would like to see researchers here looking for approaches to studies in the SARS-COV-2 context, and I can well imagine that they will find them.
How do you see the protections currently in place?
Dr. Petra Bracht: Washing hands for at least 20 seconds, sneezing into the crook of the arm, respirators for high-risk patients or occupations, and when encountering large groups are absolutely reasonable. Wearing respirators in principle makes sense with the current very incomplete state of knowledge, in order not to infect others, but also to protect yourself. That’s what it’s all about now.
The challenge now is to reduce the spread to ensure care and utilization of the sick in intensive care beds. Which, as things stand, has probably succeeded. It’s not about eradicating this virus. Unfortunately, that’s there and we have to deal with it. Viruses have always existed in evolution. But that they became a problem for us humans occurred only through the domestication of animals. Infectious diseases, or zoonoses, will soon be counted among the diseases of civilization. Because nowadays, factory farming, and not only wildlife farming, plays a significant role.
And now there is a new virus that has passed from an animal to humans. Here it is important to break the chain of infection.
Can nutritional supplements help us in a supportive way?
Dr. Petra Bracht: We need a basic supply of micronutrients. Gladly also as a supplement. I myself also do this totally consistently because I expect to get this infection, but just don’t want to feel much of it. I take a multimicronutrient supplement daily in addition to interval fasting, 3 grams of vitamin C, 4,000-5,000 international units of vitamin D3, and iodine in the form of algae or organic kelp capsules. Many people are undersupplied with iodine in particular.
Nevertheless: nutritional supplementation is a supplement to food and the food itself should be in the foreground! Fresh, certified organic fruits and vegetables!
Legumes are also particularly important as they feed our microbiome, or gut bacteria. These only feed the good ones – the bad ones don’t. The strength of the immune system depends on how strong our microbiome is.
Vaccines are reported to be in the works and various medications are responding. Do you know more about that?
Dr. Petra Bracht: Yes, indeed. The pharmaceutical industry and research are working flat out on this. People believe in drugs because they don’t have the trust in their own inner doctor. However, there is no drug or vaccine against it yet. And it is also important to bear in mind that this therapy can also have side effects.
Many diseases can be causally reduced by a certain diet. Deposits in the vessels, high blood pressure, lung and intestinal diseases and so much more, can be cured by a purely plant-based diet. People are used to popping a pill, and yes, this will briefly numb symptoms, but don’t kid yourselves – these are all symptom, not cause, actions!
I know that this life change is not so easy. After all, you have to do something yourself. But you don’t have side effects that may be even more harmful than they already are, especially in light of the Corona pandemic. Drugs always have side effects. You should start changing your diet right NOW. I observe this regularly in my practice, that people who switch to a plant-based diet feel changes in 8-12 days of positive, measurable changes on health.
Especially the secondary plant compounds ensure that they not only protect themselves, but also us when ingested against viruses.
My appeal to all of you is to at least try a vegan, organic whole food plant-based diet. Do it for 12 weeks and observe how well you do with it.
Believe me, this is an added value for your entire organism and keeps you both physically and mentally top fit! And at the same time you do good for our wonderful earth.
With over 120,000 subscribers, Petra Bracht, MD, is one of the most successful female doctors on YouTube. On her channel, she educates in detail about nutrition myths and the Corona virus.
Dr. Petra Bracht online:
Disclaimer: Neither we nor Dr. Bracht make any health promises here. Be sure to ask your trusted doctor if you feel ill.
Photos / Dr. Petra Bracht: Katharina Werner | Photos with Prof. Dr. Claus Leitzmann: Fabian Sprey | Photos in general: Unsplash