You’ve probably heard that women live longer than men. What may surprise you is that this is not a myth. Women tend to bounce back from colds and flu’s more quickly due to stronger immune systems that fight off bacterial and viral infection.
Men have 2-5 times more risk than women of developing specific cancers.
Now scientists have figured out why. In the journal Immunity & Aging, researchers from the Tokyo Medical & Dental University talk about the differences in how men’s and women’s immune systems age.
At age 20, men and women have similar immune systems but each decade certain immunological genes decrease in both genders but at a slower rate for women.
Gaining an Immunological Edge
“Women have more estrogen than men which seems to protect them from cardiovascular disease until menopause. Sex hormones also affect the immune system, especially certain types of lymphocytes,” explained Professor Katsuiku Hirokawa.
Similar data in regards to general immunity was discovered by scientists at Belgium’s Ghent University. MicroRNA [microscopic ribonucleic acid] is one of the three primary macromolecules – along with DNA and protein – that are essential for all life forms.
“Statistics show that in humans, as with other mammals, women live longer than men and are more able to fight off shock episodes from sepsis, infection or trauma. We believe this is due to the X chromosome which in humans contains 10% of all microRNAs [the Y chromosome contains none].
Several X chromosome-located strands of microRNA have important functions in immunity and cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Claude Libert.
With more MicroRNAsand a different set of sex hormones than men – women may have an increased immunological advantage.
Unless a study is specifically gender-related – many researchers do not report or publish the male/female dynamic of their participants. University of Toronto professor, Eleanor Fish believes important gender-based data may be being overlooked in regards to immune system responses.
While Gender Helps, Lifestyle Plays a Role in Creating a Strong Immune System
Certain habits work against your immune system, no matter your age or gender. Knowing what your habits are doing to one of the most crucial processes in your body can help you take a new direction for total body wellness.
5 Habits That Are Damaging Your Immune System Right Now:
- Being sedentary causes your entire body to become sluggish and makes it harder to fight infection, damages sleep quality and leads to obesity.
- Being overweight causes an increase in pro-inflammatory chemicals that hinder your immune response and can lead to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
- Too much sugar in your diet inhibits your immune response. A single high-sugar soda can suppress your immune system for hours – rendering your white blood cells incapable of fighting bacteria.
- Chronic stress is listed as one of the root causes for many diseases because your body’s “fight or flight” response becomes stuck in the “on” position. Your cells are flooded with cortisol and adrenaline which suppresses your immune system.
- Social isolation damages mental outlook and manifests physically. Loneliness can genetically alter your immune response to viruses and bacteria – making you more susceptible to colds and flus.
Drinking in moderation and avoiding tobacco products may be redundant but still relevant to helping your body stay strong. Both genders can work to strengthen their immune systems with a few simple lifestyle changes.
3 Habits That Will Strengthen Your Immune System Right Now
- Regular exercise that raises your heart rate for 20 minutes, three times each week, boosts your immunity, increases your resilience to colds and flu’s, helps you fight off infection faster and improves sleep quality which has a direct impact on immunity.
Getting enough sleep lowers inflammation and stimulates antibodies while too little raises your risk of illness and makes it harder for you to get well.
- Get enough antioxidant-rich superfoods in your diet. Antioxidants are naturally occurring immune system boosters found in food. The more colorful foods in your diet – the better you will feel.
Cacao, acerola cherries, kale, and black currants are just a few excellent options of superfoods that are packed with antioxidants to help strengthen your immune system.
- Yoga, tai chi and focused meditation lower stress. Too much of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in your body leads to excessive inflammation and makes it harder for your immune system to do its job.
Socializing and laughter also help you control stress and increase production of white blood cells, hormones, and endorphins which have positive impacts on the immune system.
Naturally, wash your hands regularly – especially during flu season – and keep an eye on your basic health year-round such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Your immune system is the front-line fighter against anything and everything that attacks it. By making it stronger and keeping it young – your entire body will feel the difference for years to come.
Statistically, women live longer than men – but both genders can level the playing field by boosting their immune systems daily with a few simple, and important, lifestyle changes.