White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, protect the body from infection. Certain conditions such as lupus, chronic infection or chemotherapy, can cause a decrease in white blood cell count. A blood count of less than 3500 white blood cells per microliter of blood, indicates a disease called leukopenia; however, there are treatment options available and lifestyle changes you can make to increase your white blood cell count.
See your doctor. It is important to determine the reason for your low white blood cell count. Any underlying condition causing leukopenia must be discovered and treated as soon as possible. Depending on the condition, a lack of proper treatment could cause future health problems.
Avoid drugs or medications such as antibiotics, diuretics, antihistamines, barbiturates, sulfonamides and anticonvulsants. According to the National Institute of Health, these drugs can cause a decrease in white blood cell count. Sometimes, discontinued use of these medications can help to reverse leukopenia.
Include certain foods in your diet. Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, pumpkin, pot roast, dark turkey meat and squash seeds can help increase your white blood count. Foods containing garlic and shiitake mushrooms can also boost your immune system. Eat yoghurt that contains live active cultures of Strepococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. According to to a study published in the 2006 edition of the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, both conventional and probiotic yoghurt helped to increase white blood cell counts in approximately 30 per cent of women.
Exercise daily and find healthy ways to relieve stress. This will help to strengthen your existing white blood cells. According to The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, low level aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, can strengthen the immune system.
Wash your hands frequently, keep your nails short and clean, and avoid people who are sick. When your immune system is not strong, you need to take extra measures to prevent getting sick.
Tips and warnings
- Wash your hands frequently, keep your nails short and clean, and avoid people who are sick. When your immune system is not strong, you need to take extra measures to prevent getting sick.