Killer bacteria and viruses are everywhere. So what keeps the human race from dying out? Our spectacular immune systems, the protectors of our health— and our species. Considering all the junk we feed ourselves, it's no wonder our immune systems get sluggish and we get sick (some even say that cancer is a direct result of a faltering immune system).
The worst immune-system busters include alcohol, high-sugar foods (disease-causing bacteria feed on sugar, especially the refined type in table sugar, candy and alcohol), cured meats—like bacon that's loaded with nitrosamines—and trans fats, or fats that are mutated through man-made means. To avoid trans fats, look for the words hydrogenated or partially hy-drogenated on food labels; if you see them, don't eat that food.
Even if you avoid all of the above, you're still exposed to plenty of bugs that can take you down and force you to miss workouts. To help marshal your defenses against them, try to boost your immune system through your diet. Here are some excellent immune-system boosters:
Berries. Cranberries, blackberries, blueberries and even strawberries contain anthocyanidins and other immune-system-friendly flavonoids. Plus, they contain dietary fiber and vitamin C.
Cruciferous veggies. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage contain phytochemicals that can protect against many types of cancer
Green tea. It contains polyphenols, which are antioxidant compounds that can squash the formation of cancer-causing compounds produced in the stomach. Green tea also ramps up the metabolism and increases fat burning.
Soy foods. Eating tofu, soy milk or a soy-protein bar every few days can do wonders for your immune system—and, no, it won't stop you from building muscle. You'd have to eat loads of it every day to get its estrogen-mimicking effects. Taken in moderation, soy can reduce your risk for many diseases, including prostate cancer, due to its many antioxidants and phytochemicals.