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SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 508
Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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how long might it take a high protein diet to increase WBC

Resolved Question:

how long might it take a high protein diet to increase WBC?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 4 years ago.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX physiology expert here in the general category.

Its important to understand what happens to white blood cells in a given time period so you can have a reasonable expectation of what will happen. First thing is assuming your immune system is not compromised by any immunodeficiencies as this would obviously affect them. Second thing is have an idea of where your WBC stands compared to an optimal range. In other words, if you are switching over to animal source proteins but already had a great complimentary protein from your plant sources, if you were healthy you may not see any tremendous or huge appreciable difference.

That said white blood cells tend to have a lifespan 12 hours, some up to a few days(amongst a myriad of factors). If you are adjusting your diet in a way that would benefit a deficiency nutrient-wise its reasonable to expect that a change would would begin after a few weeks. Do keep in mind that thats supporting factors for nutrition and maximization of those nutrients(in a healthy individual) can be looked at like a drinking glass. A with certain nutrients, and those that support healthy blood cell count, the body will truly only hold on to so much before it begins to excrete the excess(think of this as the glass overflowing).

So keeping all of this in mind, there are a few extras you can do to increase your white blood cell count.

Exercise plays a large role in maintaining and "training" white blood cells. After exercise, any sort of microtrauma(a positive training stimulus) has to be repaired and rebuilt, waste materials removed, in the case of building muscle a mild inflammatory response to repair and rebuild quickly. These are the things that keep the body "trained" and ready with its "army". You may notice that runners, bodybuilders, elite athletes rarely get sick - this is because their bodies have trained all different systems to response to that exercise, including their immune cells.

Diet rich in antioxidants is also something for consideration. Immune cells, those that target invaders actually use oxidants to kill off the diseases and break them down. The antioxidants are what protect you from that oxidative damage. In reality it sounds worse than it is but antioxidants play major part in everything from preventing oxidative damage to picking up the free radicals left over from your bodies own energy production(see, its completely normal :)).

If you are really looking to boost that white blood cell count, keep your lean proteins and antioxidants balanced in your diet and if you haven't already, exercise is a tremendous way to boost your own energy as well as helping to train and build that immune "army" response.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I do all the things you cite: exercise daily, diet rich in ani-oxidants, adequate protein, and a heart-healthy diet. My cholesterol is 147, HDH/LDL ratio was 2.0, last month.

My WBC was 3.8, lower than the threshold of 4.1 recommended.

FOr the past 3 weeksI switched from my former 90% plant-protein diet to a 90% animal-protein diet. Might that boost my WBC, and by how much? If it boosts WBC, by how much might it rise in a 3 week period?? THis is my *specific* question .....
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 4 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX great to hear.

From what you have volunteered you appear to have a tremendously healthy lifestyle, with some fantastic stats.

It would be tough to give a quantitative answer off of these factors alone because everyone is so different, but assuming your compliment proteins were not "ideal", then yes assuming the rest of your diet and lifestyle is conducive to this you should be able to expect a small increase.

It's very important to note that WBC can and does fluctuate with age, sex and even other factors. Would you mind sharing your age? Older populations can sometimes naturally have a lower WBC, if only slightly.

Also, when was the last time your WBC was actually above 4.1 or 4.2 with the same lifestyle you have now, obviously without the animal protein addition?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I'm 70. My WBC varied between 3.7 & 5.4 from 1998-2009. 2009 was the last year when it was more than 4.1.

My lymphocytes worry the most - they were at 15% 3 weeks ago. Since 1998 they've typcally been close to and below the low threshold, (19-24). 3 weeks ago = 15%
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 4 years ago.
I am curious to the recommendations of your physician and the diet modification. Are you otherwise immunocompromised in any way? Also when was the next time you were recommended by your physician for a CBC to check?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
GOod question. My PCP prescribedc another CBC because my RBC & associated stats had dropped also.

I ate more animal protein for 3 weeks, especially red meat (!), chicXXXXX XXXXXver, etc, to bring up iron. RBC and WBC both moved up , near the bottom threshold of their acceptable intervals: RBC -= 4.42, WBC = 5.3, Hemoglobin = 14.2 so he's happy about my "borderline" anemia ****

But - lymphocytes dropped from 15 (already low) to 12 !! Don't like it!

And - Folate= 42.9 about 2.5x the top acceptable limit of 17 !!
What on earth does *that* mean? (checking the Internet now :-(

Thanks ...

Mike ...

Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 4 years ago.
Prescribed another CBC again now?

Chances are your really high folate is due to your diet. Its important to note that super high amounts of folate can pretty much "hide" or mask a B12 deficiency. I don't say this to throw another wrench in the wheel, but its important that you know this in the event nobody mentioned this or accidentally overlooked it.

The other huge advantage to lean red meats as a protein source is the HEME source(think meat) of iron compared to iron of non-heme sources(think plant here) which again has better absorption than something like non-heme as it is derived from hemoglobin. With that said, overloading on Iron is not a good thing compared to being at a desirable level.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for all the info - 3 1/2 weeks of increased animal protein, chicXXXXX XXXXXvers e.g., boosted the RBC, hema ... back up, slightly inside the "safe" zones.

Meanwhile, as usual, I feel fine - have cut former 35-40 minutes/day exercise back to 25-40, & taking more days off. Might have been overdoing it - age almost-71.

My last question that lingers from above is the lymphocytes?

I have an appointment with a hematologist to check the 29 -> 19 -> -> 15 -> 12 declination over the past 18 months or so.

I know I had benzene exposure in wafer labs, Silicon Valley, 1983, 1984.

How much? Effect? Lingering effect today???

Thanks ...
(answer this one & I'll do the Eval - Smile
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 4 years ago.
Thats excellent, and as I mentioned with the WBC the body it will begin to respond to a dietary change within a few weeks provided nothing else is buffering that response. RBCs and WBCs have different lifespan but turnover and the things that affect the relative "health" of the cells should be influenced in that same time period.

I will tell you right off the bat, that as long as your physician has cleared you for exercise and as long as you are able to recover completely from each bout I then you can continue to exercise as you like. The general recommendation is "at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise most days of the week" - so I think provided you have stayed so incredibly healthy so long, that your lifestyle has been successful.

Now I will have to keep on the topic of general here with this part as per the JA rules but benzene more or less works on the body by "splicing" DNA and thats what causes the cancerous effects. The amount of effects seen today(if any that could be pinpointed to your exposure) would be quite hard to quantify unless you had data from that 27+ years ago and knew the type, magnitude and duration of that exposure both on a daily basis but also over the course of the time you worked there. Typically, when there isn't quantifiable data available you can begin to get an idea of the types of symptoms to expect in a given situation and use comparable rates among say, your coworkers, and what kind of blood maladies they may have today as a way to get an idea of the severity of exposure. Then you can start to get an idea. So basically if there is no data to the exposure, you would have to compare with the same population working in the same field and labs and grow facilities to get an idea.

Its been an absolute pleasure helping you. Laughing
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