While white blood cells (WBC) account for only one percent of our blood, they have an enormous impact on our entire system and protect the body from illness and disease. Moving within our bloodstream, they work with our immune system as little warriors constantly doing battle to fight infections, bacteria and other foreign invaders.
Most white blood cells are made in our bone marrow and then stored in our blood and lymph tissues. Some only survive for days, so our bone marrow is constantly producing more.
Keeping our WBC count up is vital for maintaining good health and recovering when we become ill. Factors that can contribute to a drop in WBC counts include viral infection, autoimmune disorders, certain medications and antibiotics, chemotherapy and poor health in general. Fatigue, stress, poor nutrition and alcohol abuse are also contributors.
There are many lifestyle factors which help boost white blood cells including maintaining a healthy weight, eating a correct balanced diet, drinking plenty of quality water, getting solid sleep and minimizing stress.
To give your little warriors their greatest advantage, start by eliminating unhealthy saturated and trans fats along with simple sugars, and add more foods high in vitamin C and those with anti-inflammatory properties:
- Enjoy more of these vitamin-rich foods: kiwi, mango, papaya, red bell pepper, broccoli, spinach, farm-raised organic chicken (yes, there actually is something to chicken soup when you’re sick!) and avocados.
- Spice up your meals with these anti-inflammatory seasonings: turmeric, garlic, ginger and raw honey.
- Snack on power boosting nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds, almonds and Brazil nuts
- Sip on green tea which is high in antioxidants and contains the healthy polyphenol EGCG and L-thiamine, a germ-fighting compound found in our T-cells. It also is reported that green tea contains catechins that may help kill influenza viruses.1
- Take supplements to support your system including a good probiotic daily, 10 mg of zinc, 2000 IU of vitamin D3, 250 mg olive leaf (can lower blood pressure), and a quality multi-vitamin.
In these uncertain times, it’s understandable that many worry about catching the coronavirus. To minimize stress, it is important to remember that most people who get sick will recover. Those at greater risk include individuals with cancer, lung and heart disease and diabetes, especially type 1.
Symptoms of the virus range from mild to severe and could include fever over 100.5, cough, lethargy, nausea and or diarrhea. In more severe cases, shortness of breath, chest pain, cough and pneumonia will appear.
If you feel symptoms, increase your vitamin C to 5,000 mg (or tolerable amount) and your garlic intake, drink hot teas (green, immune and echinacea), hot broths and chicken soup (non-dairy), get plenty of rest, keep your chest warm and use a vapor rub at night to help keep your airways open.
Also avoid NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen (Aleve) or any clotting drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin). Observational studies from China show that these types of drugs can make it worse. If you need to use a pain reliever, Tylenol for fever, aches and pains is recommended.
The most important way to protect your WBC warriors is to practice good hygiene. Keep yourself and your surroundings clean, wash your hands and keep things you touch often wiped down with disinfectant (including your phone), social distance (six feet or more) and, if you’re sick in any way, stay home for your sake and those around you.
Dr. Beckner is owner of Your Body Code in Palm Desert which offers personalized nutrition and wellness programs. For more information, visit www.yourbodycode.com or call (760) 341.BODY (2639).
1) Amanda Beckner CN, HHP, PhD, Your Body Code, copyright 2009