In the video: Why is it recommended to get vaccinated against the flu?/Editing: Gilad Manheim
It's a well-known perception that men whine more and exaggerate their symptoms when they're sick, but now nutritionist Jenna Hope, who regularly appears on This Morning, says it's not a myth and validates the assertion that men don't just complain more when they're sick – they actually suffer more. So stop laughing at us!!
"It pains me to say this, but 'men's flu' is real. Men really suffer a lot more than women when they're sick," she said, explaining that the female immune system is stronger because of higher levels of estrogen and progesterone and lower levels of testosterone.
She added: "When we look at the evidence, we find that the female immune system is actually stronger than the male immune system. Higher levels of estrogen and progesterone (of which women have more) can increase the efficiency of our immune cells."
Jenna also noted that men have higher levels of testosterone, which affects the immune system and makes them sicker more. She said: "We know that testosterone plays a role in suppressing the immune system. So not only do men have more of the hormone that suppresses immunity, they have less of those (estrogen and progesterone) that support it."
They Don't Just Cry/Giphy
Hope explained that men feel the effects of colds and flu — headaches, throat and limbs — more severely than women and have a harder time shaking them off. This is also backed up by a study from Harvard University in which scientists found that men were at a disadvantage when it came to disease, due to a lack of estrogen that strengthens their immune system.
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The researchers tested this theory on mice and found that doses of estrogen cured them of bacterial pneumonia. When the gene responsible for producing the enzyme nitric oxide synthase was removed, the mice lost their resistance to infection. This suggests that men get viruses more easily than women — and feel the effects more. The differences between males and females were expressed in higher fever and inflammation with longer recovery time.
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Another study published in the medical journal BMJ supported the idea of "male flu". He found that men with symptoms of a viral respiratory infection had a weaker immune response that lasted longer and was more severe than women.
According to Benenden, a private health insurer in the UK, men need to take special measures to protect themselves from "male flu". They advise eating foods full of immune-boosting vitamins such as tomatoes, blueberries, sunflower seeds, red grapefruit, yogurt, kale, beets, garlic and ginger during the winter months.
They also recommend getting vaccinated for the flu ahead of the winter months. "Other tactics of fighting male flu involve getting good sleep to keep your immune system healthy. Sleep helps regulate your hormones and maintain healthy immune function," it says, while promoting "exercise to increase your blood flow" which "in turn strengthens your immune system."
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