White blood cells produce antibodies to fight infections and are an essential part of your immune system. They are formed in the bone marrow from stem cells. If your white blood cell count is low, for example through chemotherapy, then your immune system is weakened and is no longer able to fight infections effectively. Even a common cold can become dangerous.
What to eat
Although there are no “magic” superfoods (despite some claims) you can help boost your white blood cell count by ensuring you have enough protein and the correct vitamins and minerals in your diet.
Drinking water is a great way to keep hydrated without adding calories or damaging your teeth. Add slices of cucumber, citrus fruits or some berries to add flavour. It is important to consume enough to prevent getting headaches and tiredness.
Eat a good source of protein throughout the day
Turkey meat is a good source of protein. Chickpeas, broad beans and quinoa also provide a source of vegetable protein. Fish and seafood, for example Salmon, tuna and prawns provide protein too.
Eat your greens
Kale provides key vitamins and anti-oxidants which are compounds essential in preventing oxidative stress which damages or kills cells in the body.
There may be times when you have lost your appetite and struggle to eat a full meal but your body is reliant on the necessary calories to function effectively. Take in snacks when you can.
8 Meal and Snack Suggestions
1. Seafood Salad
Poached salmon and prawns served with a portion of wholewheat cous cous, a roasted carrot and orange salad and a green salad made from mixed salad leaves, cucumber and olives.
2. Green Smoothie
Mix a scoop of wheatgrass or Greens powder, a cup of apple juice and blend with a cupful of green leafy vegetables for an instant boost to your folate levels which help the formation of blood cells.
3. Sweet vegetable tea
Cut sugar cravings with this tea made from one part each of chopped pumpkin, cabbage, carrot and onion. Add 12 parts water and bring to a rolling boil, simmer for 10 minutes, remove the chopped vegetables and drink the liquid for a nourishing and soothing alternative to tea.
4. Fresh cut vegetables
Blanch raw chopped broccoli and carrot in boiling water for 30 seconds and dip in cold water instantly and serve with a handful of cherry tomatoes with an omelette for a nutritious breakfast. Studies have shown that a compound found in broccoli has an anti-inflammatory effect on cells. Lycopene found in tomatoes and beta-carotene in carrots are both antioxidants.
5. Turkey Meat
Turkey meat is a great for providing lean protein and easy meals can be made using turkey meatballs cooked with fresh herbs, then served in a warm pitta bread with natural yogurt and salad leaves or buy cooked sliced turkey meat and make a sandwich with avocado, tomato and lettuce. It’s a good alternative to bacon, lettuce and tomato.
Eating avocadoes helps reduce cravings for fatty foods, they are a good source of vitamins A & E and also contain a combination of vitamins B6, C and D, riboflavin and manganese to support and strengthen the immune system. Eaten on wholewheat toast or sunflower and barley toast gives the added dietary fibre to help the bowel.
7. Mushroom soup
Mushrooms have been shown to have a stimulating effect on the immune system of immun-compromised patients. A mix of mushrooms such as Shiitake, chestnut and oyster is a delicious combination and in a soup with garlic and onion they are easy to eat in large quantities.
8. Yeast Drinks
A tasty way to take in vitamin B12 and boost your immune system.
Look out for the forthcoming ebook with more information
The material contained in this blog is for information purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or consultation from a qualified health practitioner.
Avocado – telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/diet/3337073/Super-foods-avocado.html
Dietary advice for patients with neutropenia (Leukemia and lymphoma research 2012)
Mushrooms – www.mushroomsandhealth.com
Macmillan – uk/information-and-support/coping/maintaining-a-healthy-lifestyle/healthy-eating
Recipes – ottolenghi.co.uk/plenty-more-shop