As an immunologist and allergist, I'm often asked, "How can I strengthen my immune system naturally?" In reality, it's about training our immune system to do its job correctly. That is, we want to be able to fend off the things that can hurt us—such as viruses, pathogenic bacteria, and parasites—while remaining nonreactive to benign things like pollen and foods. In addition, we want to prevent our immune system from attacking our own body, as is the case in autoimmune disease.
The bottom line is that a healthy body is dependent on a strong immune system. There are many ways to perform immune-system upkeep and not just by avoiding some destructive habits, stressors, and toxins but by embracing natural immune supporters and adopting behaviors that encourage immunity.
The most important thing one can do to cultivate strong immunity is to start where the immune system really resides: the gut. Whether you have chronic allergies, frequent infections, or autoimmune problems, you likely have some damage to the health of your microbiome and digestive tract. This is where about 80% of your immune cells hang out, and it's where our bodies decide what is friend and what is foe. By strengthening our gut health, we are much less likely to get sick, have allergies, and develop autoimmune disease. These are some of the key ways I recommend all my patients support their immune function: