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  • How to Improve White Cell Counts

    White blood cells are the body's first line of defense against infection. White blood cells are a key component of the immune system, acting as the body's primary defense system in fighting off infections. White cell counts below 3,500 cells per microliter of blood are considered low and are indicative of a severely compromised immune system that cannot effectively fight off infection. A low white cell count can have many different causes, including viral infections, marrow-damaging cancers, autoimmune diseases and drugs and treatments that destroy white cells as a side effect, such as chemotherapy. Regardless of the cause of your low white cell count, you can boost your immune system and improve your white cell count by making a few lifestyle changes.

    1. Don't overwhelm your immune system. A low white cell count leaves your body less capable of fighting off infections so lowering the stress on your immune system is the first step toward allowing your white blood cell counts to recover. Wear a face mask when in public places and avoid contact with sick individuals. Wash your hands regularly and use antibacterial soap when you cannot wash your hands for an extended period of time. Thoroughly clean and cook the foods that you eat.
    2. Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes each day, either by walking, cycling or undertaking and low impact activity. Moderate daily exercise boosts the immune system and helps your body fight off infections. Do not to overstress your body by exercising too vigorously, as this can weaken your immune system and increase the amount of stress hormones released by your body.
    3. Increase your intake of vitamins C and E. These vitamins act as antioxidants and boost your immune system, helping improve your white blood cell count. Foods rich in vitamin C include most fruits an vegetables, but especially papaya, strawberries, kiwi and oranges. Foods rich in vitamin E include many seeds, tomatoes, spinach, avocados, olive oil and salmon.
    4. Consume foods rich in zinc. Zinc directly increases your body's production of white blood cells. Foods rich in zinc include seafood such as crab and oysters, meats such as dark turkey meat and beef, and legumes such as beans. You can also take a zinc supplement.
    5. Eliminate or reduce the amount of alcohol and sugar that you consume. Consuming 100 grams of sugar can reduce white blood cells' ability to kill off infections by 40 percent. Alcohol also reduces white blood cells' ability to eliminate infections. Drink alcohol in moderation and always stop drinking before you begin to feel intoxicated.
    6. Speak with your doctor about taking medication to help boost your white blood cell count. Some medications are commonly administered to encourage white blood cell growth, such as those containing filgrastim and sargramostim. Other medications, such as those containing acycloguanosine or fluconazole, do not directly increase white cell counts. Instead, they fight against infections that would overwhelm the immune system, giving the body more time to recover its white blood cell levels on its own.

    By Richard Graham, eHow Contributor updated: March 31, 2011
    Read more: How to Improve White Cell Counts |
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