Do you ever find yourself with a fever during a bout with a cold or flu? a A fever often happens because your white blood cells are trying to fight infectious microbes. The fever is your body’s natural response to infection.
What are white blood cells, what do they do for you, and how can you improve your white blood cells naturally?
White blood cells protect your body from infection and keep your immune system strong. One of the best ways to stay healthy and cold-free is by eating a variety of immune-boosting foods and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Here are 10 ways to improve white blood cells naturally:
Now and then you go to the doctors and have your blood taken for a check-up. Most likely they are checking your white blood cell counts, liver, cholesterol, thyroid, and kidney functions. An increase or decrease in these blood counts may show something as simple as an infection, or something that needs further investigation.
What happens when your white blood cells come back too low? Can you improve your white blood cells naturally? With an increase of people wanting to take a more natural approach to their health, it is logical that we start at the basics: our blood.
What Are White Blood Cells
Your blood is made up of white blood cells, red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. White blood cells account for about 1% of your blood but they have an enormous impact. White blood cells (WBCs) are also known as leukocytes or white corpuscles. They protect your body against illness and disease.
Red blood cells and most white blood cells are made in your bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue in your bone cavities. They are then stored in your blood and lymph tissues. Some white blood cells only survive for one to three days, so your bone marrow is constantly producing them.
Think of white blood cells as your immunity cells who are constantly at war. They move within your bloodstream and work with your immune system to fight infections, bacteria, and any other foreign invaders that could affect your health.
Whenever your body is in distress or under attack from infection, your white blood cells rush in to defend your health. They help to destroy harmful substances and prevent illness.
There are different types of white blood cells that all serve a slightly different purpose.
Some types of white blood cells are:
- Eosinophils - they help with allergic responses as well as attack and kill parasites and cancer cells.
- Basophils - produce histamine during an allergic reaction
- Neutrophils - fight infection by killing and digesting bacteria and fungi
- Monocytes - help to break down bacteria
What Causes White Blood Cells to Be Low?
If your white blood cell count is slightly low, it may be a result of fatigue and stress. Typically, your body will resolve this on its own after some much-needed rest and nutrition. Your doctor may repeat a blood test just to be sure though.
When white blood cell count is too low it can no longer fight infection. This can result in a condition known as leukopenia. There are different types of leukopenia depending on which type of white blood cell you’re low in. For example, if your blood is low in neutrophils, the type of leukopenia is known as neutropenia. Neutrophils are the white blood cells that protect you from bacteria and fungal infections.
Other conditions may produce a low white blood cell count. You may be on some medications or radiation therapy that can lower your amount of white blood cells. Your doctor will be monitoring you in those instances already.
A drastic result in low white blood count can be related to additional diseases such as cancer, liver disease, lupus, autoimmune disorders, HIV, lupus, and additional infections within your body.
Not every low white blood cell count is related to these diseases; however, diseases are not to be excluded, and depending on the low range of your results, doctors will lead you in the right direction.
A drop in white blood cell count can also be as a result of the following:
- Viral infections
- Alcohol abuse
- Poor nutrition
- Medications like antibiotics
- Autoimmune disorders
- Congenital diseases
When you have a low white blood cell count, you may notice signs of infection like a high fever, chills, and sweating. If your white blood cell is low due to infection, you may also notice a sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath.
How Can I Improve My White Blood Cells Naturally?
There are a few natural ways to boost your white blood cells such as:
- If you are overweight, losing a few pounds can help increase your immunity.
- Drinking water is proven to increase immunity by flushing out toxins.
- Decreasing sugars and unhealthy fats also can boost your immune system by keeping those white blood cells healthy.
- Sleep is another key factor to increase your white blood cells naturally. So, find your Zen, reduce your stress, and get enough zzzzs.
Top Ten Ways to Improve White Blood Cells
This mineral is a key ingredient in producing white blood cells that release antibodies that fight infection. Zinc has been linked to slow cancer growth.
Related: Zinc Deficiency Risks and Causes
Your gut plays an important role in hosting a large portion of your immune system, maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics populate your gut and helps get rid of harmful bacteria, giving your immune system an increased capacity to fight pathogens. Healthy gut flora helps your body to maintain healthy responses to allergens. A healthy and balanced population of good and bad bacteria in your gut is essential in fighting off infections.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E helps the body to fight off infection and widens blood vessels. This helps to stop clots forming in blood vessels. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds, spinach, and broccoli.
It’s pretty common for people to turn to vitamin C after they’ve been hit with a cold or flu. This vitamin has been shown to increase interferon (a protein) which protects your blood cells from viruses. By improving your immune system, your body produces more white blood cells that respond swiftly to fight infection.
Your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C so it’s important to get your recommended daily intake from your diet. Some foods high in vitamin C include grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and kiwi.
Studies have shown that garlic stimulates immune cells, helps white blood cells fight off infection, increases white blood cell counts, and acts as an antioxidant.
Garlic can benefit much more than your white blood cell counts. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health, garlic may help to lower blood pressure as well as slow down the hardening of arteries. Garlic not only adds a delicious taste to any meal but is packed with immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Folate (vitamin B-9) is required for the production of white blood cells. Foods enriched with folate are dark leafy vegetables, avocado, beans, nuts, and fruits.
Related: 15 Foods High in Folate
Omega-3 fatty acids improve your immune system by increasing phagocytes. These are the white blood cells that literally eat up bacteria. Essential fatty acids protect the body from damage that occurs if the body over-react to an infection. One study found that when children were given just a half a teaspoon of flax oil each day, they experienced fewer colds and other respiratory infections.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, and catechins. Green tea has a high level of catechins. In particular, it contains epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. It’s thought that EGCG is responsible for most of green tea’s health benefits.
One study found that catechins may kill influenza viruses. Green tea is rich in these powerful catechins. EGCG has been found to be very effective at managing multiple aspects of immunity. This makes green tea a potentially powerful immune-boosting tool.
Ginger is known for its immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects. It increased blood flow and may help to reduce inflammation which can be especially useful for a sore throat and other inflammatory diseases. Ginger is also antibacterial and can help support the immune system.
Related: Ginger: A Spice for Health!
Selenium is an essential trace element which means you only need a little bit of it in your diet. Selenium has been found to have a positive effect on the production of white cells, in particular, neutrophils and lymphocytes. This trace element also plays a number of vital roles involving the immune system. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium.
By keeping your immune system strong, you are providing your body with extra strength to help keep your body healthy as it works together with your white blood cells to protect you from germs, bacteria, and viruses. Depending on the reason for your decrease in white blood cells, you may require the aid of medical intervention.
It is important to recognize that not everything is powered by our diet and exercise regimes. Staying healthy and eating a healthy diet to improve your immunity can only help keep those white blood cells strong and healthy. It is just as important to maintain your health by reducing stress and getting regular physical checkups.
By incorporating immune-boosting foods into your diet, you give your body the best chance to function at optimum levels and fight off infection. Your white blood cells rush to your defense at the first sign of an infection, helping you to stay as healthy as possible. Although your cell count can drop through reasons out of your control, eating a varied diet full of whole foods, fruit, and vegetables, can help to improve your white blood cells naturally.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 9, 2018 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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