Man flu is real as males do suffer more when ill, it has finally been confirmed by a health expert.
While the term has been typically used to claim men are exaggerating their symptoms when they are feeling unwell, nutritionist Jenna Hope, who regularly appears on This Morning, says that it is not a myth.
"It pains me to say this but man flu is real. Men really do suffer much more than women when they're ill," she said, explaining that the female immune system is stronger due to higher levels of oestrogen 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 oestrogen and progesterone (which women have more of) can increase the efficiency of our immune cells."
Jenna also pointed out that men have higher levels of testosterone, which affects the immune system and makes them more likely to fall ill. She said: "We know that testosterone plays a role in the suppression of the immune system. So not only do men have more of the hormone that suppresses immunity, they have less of the ones (oestrogen and progesterone) that support it.''
Ms Hope explained that men feel the effects of colds and flu - headaches, sore throats, aching limbs - more than women and find it harder to shake them off. And this has also been backed up by a study from Harvard University where scientists found that men were at a disadvantage when it came to sickness due to their lack of immune-boosting oestrogen.
They tested this theory on mice and found that doses of oestrogen 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 contract viruses more easily than women - and feel the effects more.
Another study published in the medical journal BMJ supported the idea of man flu. It found that men who had symptoms of a viral respiratory infection had a weaker immune response that lasted longer and was more severe than women. According to UK private health insurer Benenden, men should take special steps to protect themselves against man flu. They advise eating foods full of immune-boosting vitamins like blueberries, watercress, kale, beetroot, garlic and ginger during the winter months.
They also recommend getting a flu jab for the winter months. "Other man flu-fighting tactics involve getting a good night's sleep to keep your immune system healthy. Sleep helps to regulate your hormones and maintains a healthy immune function," it stated, while promoting "exercising to increase your blood flow" which "in turn strengthens your immune system".
Meanwhile, security boss Pete Finlay, 47, from Norwich, said he always knew he suffered more than partner Rachel, reported the Daily Star. "When we both get colds at the same time my partner always makes fun of me saying I always complain more and exaggerate the symptoms,'' he admitted. "But, it's true - it does affect me more because I'm a man. Thank you science. Now she can't tell me I'm being a big baby any more."
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