Top 10 Foods and Habits to Increase
White Blood Cell Count
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Last updated August 8, 2017 (originally published July 12,2011)
By Michael Chang, Contributing Columnist

Whenever you are coughing up phlegm from a cold or
burning up from a fever, your body has natural response
triggers that should help it heal itself. Part of this immune
system is white blood cells, scientifically known as
leukocytes, which help our bodies fight infections.  Normal
white blood cell count averages 7,000 cells per micro-liter
of blood ( some estimates put the range between 4,000
and 11,000) and circulates in the blood to wherever your
body is suffering from an infection.

Below this normal range, you do not have enough white
blood cells to fight off infection. Having a lower than
normal  white blood cell count is called "neutropenia" and
severe cases are called "agranulocytosis".  Neutropenia is
more common (56 people out of a million), and
agranulocytosis is rare, accounting for only 6 cases out of a
million people per year, according to the International
Agranulocytosis and Aplastic Anemia Study in Europe.

Are there foods or other natural remedies to increase your
low white blood cell count? What causes a low white blood
cell count?

What Does a Low White Blood Cell Count Mean?

Low white blood cell count is indicative of a suppressed
immune system, whether that stems from emotional
distress or a physical illness. A decrease in the number of
these infection-fighting cells can pose a problem when you
contract an illness or infection as it hampers an optimal
response by the body to combat the infection. Your
immune system can then be compromised in effectively
fighting these illnesses that might develop into graver
medical concerns down the line.

There are several different kinds of white blood cells, some
of which are tasked to handle different types of infection.
For example, eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that
fights allergies.   If you are infected with the HIV virus and
develop AIDs, that disease kills off your "CD4+" white
blood cells, reducing them from normal levels to around
only 200 cells per micro-liter.  At that severely low level of
white blood cell protection, you are completely vulnerable
to almost any type of infection -- a simple flu can kill you.
Another type of white blood cell, called a "natural killer cell"
targets and kills cancer cells in your body.

One of the signs that your white blood cell count is low is
your resting heart rate, according to a 2002 study from
Japanese scientists at Takenozuka Public Health Center.
Normal resting heart rate is 70 to 90 beats per minute for a
healthy adult. A heart rate consistently near or over 100
should be investigated with your doctor for possible
undetected and untreated infections. Something as simple
as a
chronic ear infection or tooth decay can lower your
white blood cell count and raise your resting heart rate.]

The following are a few of the top foods to add to your diet
and habits to incorporate into your lifestyle to ensure
optimal white blood cell count so that your body can better
fight off infection.

Incorporate Regular Physical Exercise into Your Routine

For more reasons than simply increasing your white blood
cell count, incorporating physical exercise into your daily
routine cannot be stressed enough.

Moderate to rigorous exercise at least half an hour a day
can immensely increase your body’s immunity and boost
your white blood cell count. Of course, many of us have a  
sedentary lifestyle owing to schedules overflowing with
work and familial obligations. But, take heart. Exercise  
needn't be limited to  running around some track or
pumping some iron. Doing something simple like taking the
stairs ---even a flight ---adds up to hours of extra exercise
a month. (Read more about
10 simple ways to become
more active.)

Regardless of your preferred exercise choice, simply
electing to incorporate activity into your life will be a huge
immune system booster.

According to an 1994 Osaka University Graduate School of
Medicine study, those with higher physical activity, along
with other lifestyle indicators such as absence of obesity,
low levels of stress, and no cigarette smoking, were found
to be associated with increased white blood cell count.

Substitute Your Morning Coffee for Green Tea to Boost

The merits of this herbal drink have been lauded for more
than one particular health benefit. In the case of increased
immunity, it is no different. Due to the antigen-fighting
antioxidant, catechin, green tea boasts of increasing WBC
production, perking lymphocyte responses, and exhibiting
anti-inflammatory effects. According to 2009 University of
Sherbrooke study, green tea may slow viral replication, and
thus, you may not lose as many WBC necessary to fight the

So, substitute that morning cup of coffee for some natural
green tea—and you will stimulate production of these
immunity boosters. (Read more about the
Top 10 health
benefits of tea.)

Garlic Increases White Blood Cell Production and
Eliminates Toxins

Garlic may ward off vampires. But it can also ward off
unwanted infections and illnesses. By consuming garlic,
raw or cooked, regularly, you can not only increase your
white blood cell count, but you can also strengthen your
existing cells. Garlic contains within it a substance known as
allicin, which boosts both production as well as expels
excess of microorganisms.

According to a 1989 study in the German Medical Journal
Deutsche Zeitshrift, after 12 months of consuming 5 grams
of garlic daily, the cell activity of cancer patients suffering
from abnormally low WBC counts returned to normal levels.
(Read more about
garlic's surprising ability to lower your
blood pressure.)

Friendly Bacteria of Yogurt Boosts White Blood Cell

Yogurt can stimulate the production of white blood cells to
boost your body’s natural immunity against infections. The
live active cultures of yogurt, known scientifically as
Strepococcus thermophilus, produce antibodies, in addition
to strengthening your white blood cells.  

According to a 2006 study published in Annals of Nutrition
and Metabolism, women who consumed yogurt regularly
saw an increase of WBC counts by approximately 30

Zinc Increases Immunity Functions to Better Protect
Your Body

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Toasts, topped with strawberries, kiwis and pears, are packed
with anti-oxidants which boost your immune system's white
blood cell count.  We used Philadelphia lite cream cheese for
the spread underneath but  reduced-calorie butter or olive-oil
spread works just as well.