What foods can improve a white cell count?

War asked...

What foods could improve white cell count? I am on chemo and my count is low.

Expert Answer

Linda Ackerman, R.N. has clinical experience in oncology, women's health, and medical nursing. She has been practicing for more than 20 years and is a licensed registered nurse in both Florida and Wisconsin. In addition, she serves as a board member of Breast Cancer Recovery and the Wisconsin Cancer Council.

To my knowledge there are not specific foods or supplements know to increase white blood cell counts.
However, trying to continue to eat a well balanced diet with adequate calories to maintain your weight and adequate protein through out treatment is valuable to maintain your immunity. Cancer treatment increases the nutritional demands of the body.

When your white blood cell count is low, you are also at a higher risk for infections, so avoidance of uncooked raw fruits and vegetables is important. Well cooked vegetables or canned fruit are ok to eat.

In addition, there are medications which stimulate the blood system (bone marrow) to make white blood cells, helping you fight infections. This medication is given to those whose ability to make white blood cells has been reduced. Filgrastim (also known as G-CSF, or granulocyte colony stimulating factor) is a man-made version of a certain natural substance found in the body.

I would recommend that you try to see a registered dietician or a nutritional counselor to help plan a well balanced diet based on your own specific situation. Hopefully, either of these professionals is available within your oncologist's practice. If not, typically, hospitals staff registered dieticians or nutritional counselors who see people on an outpatients basis.