Can Foods Raise White T Cells?

T cells, also known as T lymphocytes, are a white blood cell of grave importance to your immune system; they allow your body to adapt a response to any pathogen. Your physician may recommend medications to boost T cell counts when you are fighting an illness, but there are also foods you can eat to trigger production of these critical cells.

A basket of garlic bulbs for sale at a market. (Image: lovell35/iStock/Getty Images)

Oysters

Eat oysters to boost the number of T cells in your body to fight infections. A 3-oz. serving oysters cooked in moist heat contains 66.8 mg of zinc, a mineral that bolsters white blood cell production and helps these cells to produce greater quantities of antibodies. Oysters also contain a small amount of vitamin A -- 75 IU per serving -- which also helps stimulate the production of white blood cells. You require 8 to 11 mg of zinc and 2,300 to 3,000 IU of vitamin A each day.

Garlic

Including garlic in your meal plan to increase your T cells is a good option. A study published in the February 2009 issue of the journal "Planta Medica" indicates that compounds in garlic trigger the growth of lymphocytes. Garlic also contains a small amount of zinc -- 0.1 mg -- and 2.8 mg of vitamin C, another vitamin useful for your immune system. The vitamin C in garlic pumps up your body's production of white blood cells; adults need 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C per day.

Brazil Nuts

Eating more brazil nuts, a large South American nut, may improve your T cell count, thanks to the selenium content. A 1-oz. serving of these nuts provides you with 543.5 mcg of this mineral, and research indicates that selenium positively influences T cell proliferation and activity, according to a study featured in the June 2010 "Journal of Nutrition." Adults require 55 mcg of selenium each day. Brazil nuts also supply small amounts of zinc and vitamin C.

Carrots

The vitamin A in carrots helps trigger white blood cell production; a 1-cup serving of chopped carrots has 21,384 IU of this vitamin, many times the daily recommended intake. You also take in a small amount of vitamin C in a serving of carrots -- 7.6 mg -- as well as small amounts of zinc and selenium, all of which contribute to T cell counts.

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