Table of Contents
When the COVID pandemic started shutting things down, everyone was in a frenzy to buy masks, wash their hands, and boost their immune system. Protective measures are definitely important to keep you safe. But I’d say there are measures you can take every day to protect your immune system so that you’re not drained of energy or in bed with a preventable illness when you could be out crushing workouts and achieving your goals in life. You can browse the internet for the latest hacks and vitamins… Or you can just tune into this video and learn the 5 proven ways to strengthen your immune system.
What Is The Immune System?Before we get into the 5 ways, I want to first talk about what the immune system is and how it works. The immune system refers to the cells, proteins, tissues, and organs in your body that fight against anything harmful that could cause disease or injury. There are a few different cells of the immune system. You’ve probably heard of lymphocytes, or white blood cells. B lymphocytes are like the CIA of the body. They detect harmful substances and send out antibodies to tag the bacterial invaders for death. T lymphocytes, or killer-T cells, are like the Terminator. They hunt out pathogens and kill them. There are many other immune cells like phagocytes that essentially eat pathogens, but you get the idea. These immune cells can’t function unless you provide the immune system with the proper “fuel and recovery”. So how do we give the body what it needs so the immune system can do its job, whether there’s a pandemic or you just want to be the best leader possible for your family, career, and your own life?
#1: Proper ExerciseAccording to Warburton and Bredin, exercise clearly lowers the risk of the most prevalent and harmful diseases plaguing men like heart disease and diabetes <1>. But it's not just those types of diseases. Exercise directly builds your immune system to fight contagions. Check out this research by Nieman and Wentz. Exercise has been shown to fight chronic inflammation that leads to diseases over time. And those who don’t exercise are significantly more likely to be infected by contagious bacterial infections <2>. Now, after hearing that, you’re probably thinking the more exercise the better, right? You’re right...at least up to a point. When studying marathon runners, scientists found that those training at least 97 km/wk vs. 32 km/wk were TWICE as likely to experience an infectious episode <3>. And when you look at athletes who overtrain, meaning they perform too much work without proper recovery, their testosterone:cortisol ratio significantly decreases. Basically leading them to worse male hormone profiles for muscle, strength, energy, mood, and of course immunity <4>. If you’re the average guy, that flies in the face of the claim that exercise helps your immune system. Here’s the thing… Considering that these guys were running an incredible amount or training a ton, and the average guy is training for an hour or so a few times per week, exercise hurting your immune system isn’t something to worry about with moderate training and proper recovery, especially when following the next 4 ways to strengthen your immune system. So here’s my recommendation: Strength train ~4 times per week and sprint ~3 times per week. Of course, you can and should adjust this, but this schedule will ensure enough training to improve your immunity without running the risk of doing too much. The reason I chose sprinting, or HIIT, is because studies suggest it’s a great way to boost your testosterone as well as the “fountain of youth” hormone, growth hormone <5>. Other types of cardio have been shown to have negative effects on testosterone and recovery, at least when done in high amounts.
#2: SleepThe doctors don’t tell you to get 7-9 hours of sleep for good reason. It’s important for energy, mood, muscle and strength, cognitive function, testosterone, and a lot more. So many people immediately see improving your immunity through vaccines and supplements. But something as simple as 8 hours of high-quality sleep per night can literally change your life. Scientists from the University of California designed a study in which they intentionally gave participants rhinovirus, which is known to cause the common cold. They also recorded their sleep habits. Those who slept 5 hours per night had the highest risk of catching a cold. Sleeping at least 6-7 hours showed no greater risk of developing a cold. There was a trend for those who slept over 7 hours to have even less risk <6>. Considering this info plus the tried-and-true recommendation of sleeping 7-9 hours per night, most men should sleep at least 7 hours per night if they want a healthy immune system. Now that you know sleep is important, let me give you the answer to the question you probably have: What if I can’t get the full 7-9 hours of sleep? Listen, you have time for what you prioritize. If you really care about your sleep, immunity, as well as testosterone, energy, and all the other benefits you get from sleep, then you can manage your schedule to ensure hitting your sleep targets. But I get we all have unique circumstances. So here are scientifically-proven ways to maximize the hours you do sleep: A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research suggested that people who have irregular sleep schedules alter the circadian rhythm and an important sleep hormone called melatonin. So if you want consistently high-quality sleep, keep a strict schedule <7>. Next, it’s important you improve your sleep environment. Simple things such as sleeping in a room set at a cool temperature and in a pitch black room improves sleep quality. This should go without saying, but sporadic noises like from traffic or a noisy neighbor can significantly impact your sleep quality. In this case, it doesn’t hurt to wear a pair of ear plugs <8>. I also recommend you increase exposure to bright light exposure during the day and minimize blue light during the night. In other words, cut off the late-night social media scrolling and Netflix watching at least 2 hours before bed <9,10>. Lastly, coffee and caffeine have a ton of benefits. Unfortunately, you have to be careful how much you consume and when. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine compared the effects of caffeine consumed right before sleep, 3 hours before sleep, and 6 hours before sleep. Even consuming caffeine 6 hours before bed affects sleep quality. So my recommendation is to not have caffeine at least 6 hours before sleeping <11>.
#3: Manage StressI’m sure you’ve heard that stress can hurt your immune system. So how true is this? And how can you manage your stress levels? Some stress and cortisol is normal. But when you have chronic high stress, your cortisol is sky-high on a consistent basis. If you didn’t know, it’s a simple fact that cortisol and testosterone are inversely related. When your cortisol is high, your testosterone will decrease <12>! So that’s clearly a problem for your health, energy, physique, and manhood. But since we’re talking about immunity, let’s discuss how chronically high cortisol affects it. This hormone leads to systemic inflammation that is constantly elevated. This process gradually decreases your lymphocytes, those crucial white blood cells that fight foreign invaders in your body. So stress is basically mowing down the army of soldiers protecting your castle. And if you don’t do something to change this, your castle, AKA your body and health, will be subject to any bacteria or virus you’re exposed to. In terms of reducing stress, there are a few things that come to mind, but the biggest is realizing that stress, at least mental stress, is just that-- mental. In Meditations, the last great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius says: “Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.” Our stress, anxiety, and mental suffering is caused by how we think. If we perceive problems whether they are in the present or imagined in the future, you’ll be playing the victim. What the legendary leaders like Marcus Aurelius, Abe Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt have in common is that they focused on the present moment and what was in their control… Not the defeats of the past, imaginary catastrophes of the future, and definitely not on things outside their realm of control. This gives you the power over your own life...while allowing you to accept what is not in your control. In fact, we have substantial research like this 2010 paper by Troy and colleagues showing that consciously looking at situations differently that seem stressful at a first glance, reduces stress and depressive symptoms <13>. So keep your stress low. If you do so, not only will you have higher testosterone and lower cortisol, your immune system will be a lot stronger.
#4: Limit Alcohol IntakeYou may have heard me tell you to limit your alcohol intake in the past. For example, beer is notably the most estrogenic beer. But of course, you’d have to abuse it for it to really harm you, and that’s including for your immunity. Studies actually show moderate alcohol consumption may be a good idea. Sierksma and colleagues found that consuming alcohol with dinner seemed to have a protective benefit on cardiovascular health <14>. The problems really arise when we’re talking about drinking a serious amount. Research published in the European Respiratory Journal found that the more people drank, the more likely they were to land in the hospital with pneumonia <15>. Let’s be real. Most guys want to enjoy a drink every now and then. So when you do drink, which are the best forms of alcohol to have? I already said beer is best to be avoided if you want to keep estrogen low. My favorites include whiskey and wine. Wine is specifically beneficial because it contains ingredients like resveratrol which has been shown to reduce estrogen, increase testosterone, and improve your metabolic health. My recommendation is to enjoy a drink or two every now and then. Just remember, chronic binge drinking is not going to help your immune system or your ambitions in life.
#5: Have A Balanced DietWhen you get all the micronutrients you need, you’re supporting your immune system to keep you healthy. Unfortunately, most people simply don’t get all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need for an optimal immune system. So let me just cover a few of the most important micronutrients you need for a healthy immune system.
Vitamin CThis is the obvious one, so let’s cover it first. B and C vitamins are water-soluble, so you lose them through your pee and sweat. You can’t just store them for later use. That’s why your diet should include citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, lemons, and limes.
Vitamin B6Here’s another water-soluble vitamin you need to consistently replenish. Some of the best sources of vitamin B6 are chicken, salmon, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin EVitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation and fights off infections. You can get it from nuts, seeds, and spinach.
SpirulinaBesides the obvious micronutrients, there are specific foods that provide tons of benefits to your health and immunity. One of them is spirulina. Spirulina is a powerful blue-green algae that’s considered one of nature’s most complete sources of important and vital nutrients. It actually contains vitamins C, B, and E, as well as minerals like calcium, zinc, and magnesium. It contains specific antioxidants that protect our cells and tissues from free radical damage. You can try your best to get all the foods and micronutrients you need, but it can be a challenge getting the right amounts of every single ingredient. I include everything you need to give you a bulletproof immune system in Man Greens. Man Greens contains full, clinically effective doses of naturally grown superfoods, adaptogens, and anabolic agents that boost testosterone, lower stress, improve sleep, and increase energy and overall health. Other greens on the market include flax, soy, alfalfa, green tea, or mint that increase estrogen and lower testosterone in men… Or use sneaky proprietary blends to conceal how much of each ingredient they include to short-change by making you pay more for inadequate amounts of the ingredients that are supposed to get you results. To put it simply, Man Greens is the only greens supplement on the market designed to give specifically men an impenetrable fortress of an immune system without destroying your testosterone, raising estrogen, or hiding important facts with proprietary blends. You can grab Man Greens here. References