Behind the words ‘immune system’ lies a very complex network. Our immune system, also known as the defence system, consists of an interaction between certain body cells, signal substances and tissues and, along with the nervous system, is one of the most diverse systems in the human body. Derived from the Latin word “immunis”, which translated means “untouched, free and pure”, it prevents tissue damage caused by pathogens.  Every day, viruses, bacteria, fungi or even parasites keep our immune system on its toes by trying to attack it. They can damage our health and must therefore be combated.
Our complex “defence system” can be divided into three areas. There are the so-called anatomical barriers, such as the mucous membranes or the skin, which can be regarded as “armour”. In the first instance they fend off the rough attacks. In addition, there is the innate defence, which can also be called natural defence. It sets in when germs have overcome the anatomical barriers. This form of resistance is primarily unspecific. It is not analysed in advance what kind of attacker it is. The foreign invaders are enclosed and broken down by phagocytes, such as macrophages. In addition to the non-specific defence, there is also the specific immune defence, which can also be described as acquired defence. White blood cells, the B lymphocytes, are the most important component. They form precisely tailored antibodies against a specific type of pathogen – the so-called antibodies. They bind to the respective pathogen and mark it for the macrophages. Since the cells can remember the nature of the pathogen, the body can produce specific antibodies in the event of a new infection and thus defend itself more quickly. 
Reasons for a weakened immune system
Our immune system is usually tuned to perform at its best, but unfortunately our “body police” does not always function properly. Various factors can be the cause of a weakened immune system. On the one hand, these are congenital immunodeficiencies, and on the other hand acquired immunodeficiencies, such as leukaemias or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The intake of drugs such as cancer therapeutics, but also a lack of sleep, permanent stress, psychological strain, nutritional deficiencies, negative feelings, stimulants such as alcohol, cold or environmental pollutants can also negatively affect the immune function. 
Corona and the immune system
Our immune system is also THE key player in the fight against Covid-19. Research teams have found that there are three immune types that are thought to be closely related to the severity of the infection. According to this, a severe infection is characterised by a lack of alpha interferons.  Alpha-interferons are active ingredients from the group of several closely related proteins from the cytokine family. They are produced by different cell types in response to viral infections.  The coronavirus will reveal many secrets, but one of them has probably already been revealed: A well-functioning immune system is the A&O for our health.
Coronavirus © freepik.com
Ways to strengthen the defence of our immune system
People who exercise regularly, ideally in the fresh air, are proven to suffer less frequently from infectious diseases.  Moderate exercise specifically strengthens the immune system, because sport places the body in a temporary stress situation, which also trains the immune system. This causes the defence cells to multiply and thus become more active. With sport we not only support our immune system, but also reduce stress and simultaneously boost our metabolism and cardiovascular system.  For many of us, it is a challenge to stay healthy and strengthen our immune systems. However, this is feasible with the right diet and additional intake of dietary supplements, combined with a healthy lifestyle, exercise and the right stress management.
What can dietary supplements contribute to strengthening the immune system?
If our immune system is to function, it needs essential, immune-specific micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Vitamin C is known above all as an antioxidant and radical scavenger. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the antioxidative properties play a major role in the immune system.  Vitamin D, also known as the “sun vitamin”, is actually a hormone. It has been known for a few years now that it plays a key role in the immune system, because without vitamin D certain defence cells could not be produced at all and thus no defence reactions could take place. Immune cells have to divide quickly when the immune system is activated. Thus zinc takes over the function of cell division.  Supplementation with the micronutrients mentioned, for example, to strengthen our immune system, can be offered by Goerlich Pharma in the form of tablets, capsules (both hard and soft capsules) or sticks, and in many different ways, e.g. as blister packs, in cans, as an oil mixture or as a so-called combination package, all of which are equally optimal and appealing. In addition, Goerlich Pharma, as a specialist for contract manufacturing & development, produces and packages exclusively in Germany and is certified according to ISO 9001:2015 and 22000:2018, BIO (DE-ÖKO 005 VO (EG) 834/2007), Friend of the Sea (FOS), Marine Stewardship Council (short MSC) and feed VO certified. This means quality without compromise.
Various dosage forms, Goerlich Pharma GmbH
Probiotics and the immune system – defence “from the gut”
It is known that in about 80% of the immune cells are located in the intestine. The bacteria of the intestinal microbiota take over central functions for human health. For example, they compete with pathogens for nutrients. In addition, they produce antibacterial substances which in turn inhibit the growth of other bacteria. Finally, they regulate the function of the so-called intestine-associated immune system.  To stimulate selective growth of bacteria in the colon, so-called prebiotics are required. These are food components that cannot be broken down by the body’s own enzymes, such as inulin or oligofructose. They serve as food for the probiotics and can also be supplemented in combination. A multibacterial complex of the strains Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei to strengthen the natural defences has already been developed and can be supplemented with additional micronutrients such as vitamin C, selenium, zinc and many more, depending on the customer’s requirements, produced promptly and packaged as a private label product. These are available as dosage forms in a proven hard capsule or in the trendy form as direct stick with natural flavours, e.g. raspberry or orange. Of course, special customer-specific, probiotic formulations can also be realised in the form of development projects.
Omega-3: Amazing all-rounders for our immune system
Omega-3 fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in fatty sea fish, are true multi-talents for our body. Since they are components of every cell, they can influence all functions. The anti-inflammatory messenger substances that arise from them can reach every tissue via the bloodstream. A brand new review article by P. Calder et al. shows that the role of nutrition has a very important status in supporting the immune system. Many clinical data indicate that vitamins, trace elements but also omega-3 fatty acids are of great importance for optimal immune function. 
Goerlich Pharma offers a wide range of basic omega-3 formulations with highly concentrated marine omega-3 concentrates with defined ratios of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These products are usually available from stock and enable you to enter the market without risk at an attractive price-performance ratio. Combination products from basic recipes and customer-specific products are a great way offering exciting product concepts with additional value-adding ingredients and differentiating product features. In this way, customers are able to do justice to the dynamics of the markets.
Outlook: Depression and probiotics
Everyone has experienced mood swings at some time or another: Sometimes you are depressed and sad, sometimes happy and full of joie de vivre – depending on your life situation. Apart from “normal” mood swings, there are also pathological forms, for example due to depression. One of the main symptoms of depression is primarily a depressed mood. Researchers at the Private University of Applied Sciences Göttingen (PFH) have found out that the restrictions in social life due to the coronavirus pandemic are bad for the psyche and worsen the mood.  Millions of people around the world suffer from depression. Between 2003 and 2019, researchers studied the effects of pro- and prebiotics on anxiety disorders and depression. The results of seven studies give a clear indication that probiotics, even in combination with prebiotics, bring about measurable reductions in depression.  Irish researchers have even expanded the term to include “psychobiotics”, which are health-promoting microorganisms that not only focus regulating intestinal activity, but that also have a positive influence on the psyche.  Overall, however, further studies on a larger scale are necessary in this exciting field, because the studies done so far cover too short a period of time and the number of test persons is too small, so that no clear conclusions can be drawn.
Technical literature / references:
(1) UK NRW (2009): „Immunsystem“: URL: https://www.infektionsschutz. gesundheitsdienstportal.de/glossar/immunsystem.htm#immunsystem (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(2) Apothekenumschau (2019): “Das Immunsystem”, URL: https://www. apotheken-umschau.de/Immunsystem (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(3) Allergieinformationsdienst (2018):„Störungen des Immunsystems“ URL: https://www.allergieinformationsdienst. de/immunsystem-allergie/stoerungen-des-immunsystems.html (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(4) Gesundheit+Medizin (2020):
“Covid-19: Wie das Immunsystem den Verlauf beeinflusst” URL: https://www. wissenschaft.de/gesundheit-medizin/covid-19-wie-das-immunsystem-den-verlauf-beeinflusst/ (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(5) Pharmawiki (2020): „Interferone“, URL: https://www.pharmawiki.ch/wiki/index.php?wiki=Interferone (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(6) Ärzteblatt (2019): „Sport als Prä-vention: Fakten und Zahlen für das indi-viduelle Maß an Bewegung“, URL: htt-ps://www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/209444/Sport-als-Praevention-Fakten-und-Zahlen-fuer-das-individuelle-Mass-an-Bewegung (Stand: 24.08.2020)
(7) Ärzteblatt (1998): “Sport und Immunsystem“, URL: https://www. aerzteblatt.de/archiv/9761/Sport-und-Immunsystem (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(8) Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (2004): Verwendung von Vitaminen in Lebensmitteln URL: https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/350/verwendung_von_vi-taminen_in_lebensmitteln.pdf (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(9) Verordnung (EU) Nr. 432/2012 der Kommission vom 16. Mai 2012, URL: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:136:000 1:0040:DE:PDF (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(10) Allgemeinarzt-online (2012):
“Abwehr aus dem Bauch heraus“, URL: https://www.allgemeinarzt-online.de/archiv/a/abwehr-aus-dem-bauch-her-aus-1574780 (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(11) P. Calder et al. (2020): “Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functio-ning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infec-tions“
(12) idw – Informationsdienst Wissen-schaft (2020): „Studie an der PFH Göttingen: Symptombelastung bei Depressivität verfünffacht während Corona-Kontaktbeschränkungen“ URL: https://idw-online.de/de/news748760 (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(13) Nutraingredients (2020): „Pre-biotic and probiotic interventions may ease depression in adults“,
URL:https://www.nutraingredients.com/Article/2020/07/07/Prebiotic-and-pro-biotic-interventions-may-ease-depres-sion-in-adults?utm_source=newsletter_ product&utm_medium=email&utm_ campaign=13-Jul-2020 (Stand: 20.08.2020)
(14) Pharmazeutische Zeitung (2020): Darm in Balance URL: https://www. pharmazeutische-zeitung.de/darm-in-balance/ (Stand: 20.08.2020)
Christina Spötzl is the Project Development manager at Goerlich Pharma GmbH. After her vocational training as a dairy laboratory assistant, she completed a bachelor’s degree in “Food Management and Technology” with a focus on healthy nutrition at the Riedlingen Distance Learning University. At the same time she worked for six years in the pharmaceutical industry.