White Cell count

Overview

White blood cell count or simply WBC count measures the number of white blood cells in the blood. White blood cells or leukocytes help fight infections. These cells attack and destroy the virus, bacteria or other organisms causing an infection.

White blood cells are fewer in number, but they are relatively bigger than red blood cells. You may have a high white blood cell count if you have a bacterial infection. It's, therefore, quite common for physicians to ask for a white blood cell count to see how the body is fighting an infection.

Why is high white blood cell count a concern?

It's natural to see an increase in the white blood cells when the body's fighting with an infection, but too much of white blood cells may require further investigation. A very high white blood cell count indicates an underlying health condition.

If no disease is present, your white blood cell count will be 1% of the total blood in your body. There are five types of white blood cells, including lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes and the basophils. Normally, white blood cell count (per micro litre of blood) should be between the following ranges:

  • Neutrophils: 3150 to 6200
  • Lymphocytes: 1500 to 3000
  • Monocytes: 300 to 500
  • Eosinophils: 50 to 250
  • Basophils: 15 to 50

The change in the count of different types of white blood cells indicates different types of diseases. For instance, a high neutrophil count might mean a common infection, a physical stress or cancer, whereas very high lymphocyte count would indicate AIDS. A bacterial infection is usually present when your eosinophil and monocyte count is higher than usual. High white blood cell may also indicate inflammation, tissue damage, trauma, allergy, chronic leukaemia, chronic bone marrow disease, intense exercise, diverticular disease, and severe emotional/physical stress.

How to decrease high white blood cell count at home?

What you eat will always affect the overall white blood cell count. To lower your high white blood cell count, you should include the following in your diet:

  • Vitamin C. Eating Vitamin C will help regulate the levels of white blood cells in your body. Fruits like lemons, oranges, and lime are rich in vitamin C, and so are papayas, berries, guavas, and pineapples. You can also get vitamin C from vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers.
  • Antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals. These free radicals can damage protein, cells, and DNA, but antioxidants can eliminate them, which is why they are also called ‘free radical scavengers’. You may consider adding leeks, onions, garlic, tea, grapes, and other fruits and veggies to your diet to provide your body with antioxidants that support a healthy immune system.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Your body cannot make these essential fatty acids, so you have to get them through food. It improves cardiovascular health and elevates the activity of phagocytes, a specific type of white blood cells that fight off foreign bacteria. This polyunsaturated fat is available in fatty fish like herring, trout, and salmon, as well as in flaxseed and walnuts.
  • Avoid foods rich in sugar, fat and salt. You can replace them with any food that lowers inflammation to reduce white blood cell count, like grapes, garlic, spices, nuts, soy protein, vinegar, and black and green teas.