On the defense

7 best foods for improving immunity, backed by science

Here’s what to add to your diet to strengthen your body’s defenses.

Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski

Your immune system is a complex array of organs, tissues, and proteins that work together to fight off viruses and bacteria.

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Science points to a few strategies that can help strengthen your body’s defenses against viruses.

1. Getting ample exercise

2. Getting quality sleep

3. Keeping your stress levels low

4. Ensuring good nutrition

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Some foods can have greater benefits than others — thanks to specific vitamins and minerals that they hold.

Here are 7 foods that can help strengthen and support your immune system:

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7. Eggs

Sunny-side up is more than just a cooking style — eggs are a great source of vitamin D.

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Vitamin D can help regulate immune function.

Eggs also contain vitamin B12, which influences production of natural killer cells, your body’s first defense against pathogens.

6. Oranges

This juicy fruit is rich with Vitamin C, which protects cells from oxidative stress.

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During oxidative stress, your cells produce particles that can rupture their walls, called free radicals.

Vitamin C has been shown to limit that damaging process.

5. Legumes

Chickpeas, black beans, peas, and more: this group of foods is known for its vitamin A content, which keeps cells healthy.

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Legumes also contain zinc, a mineral, and antioxidant shown to mitigate the effects of oxidative stress.

4. Apple cider vinegar

This beverage can boost gut health, and in turn support the immune system.

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Studies show a healthy gut is linked to other benefits in the body — including a strong immune system.

3. Ginger

Don’t underestimate the power of this tough root — it’s also linked to improved gut health.

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Ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that can be just as good for the immune system as it can for the gut.

2. Yogurt

Yogurt, as well as other fermented foods, can be an excellent source of probiotics.

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Probiotics are living organisms that have a slew of positive effects on the body.

Namely, they improve microbiome health, and can in turn make your immune system better equipped to fight off invaders.

1. Veggies

Last but not least are vegetables — which, time and time again, are shown to provide a whole host of health-boosting vitamins and minerals.

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Specifically in the case of your immune system, plants host molecules called polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

But that’s just the tip of the ... iceberg.