In order for the Platelets to function normally, it is important for us to be physically healthy. However, in certain conditions, the Platelet count can reduce dramatically which can be a problem for overall health.
What are Platelets in blood?
Platelets, or thrombocytes, are small, colorless cell fragments in our blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding. Platelets are made in our bone marrow, the sponge-like tissue inside our bones. Bone marrow contains stem cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and Platelets.
What are Platelets used for?
Platelets control bleeding in our bodies, so they can be essential to surviving surgeries such as organ transplant, as well as fighting cancer, chronic diseases, and traumatic injuries. Donor Platelets are given to patients who don’t have enough of their own, a condition known as thrombocytopenia, or when a person’s Platelets aren’t working correctly. Raising the patient’s blood Platelet count reduces the risk of dangerous or even fatal bleeding.
What causes a low Platelet count?
Platelets are the blood cells that help your blood to clot. When your Platelet count is low, you may notice symptoms, including fatigue, easy bruising, and bleeding gums. A low Platelet count is also referred to as thrombocytopenia.
Certain infections, leukaemia, cancer treatments, Alcohol abuse, cirrhosis of the liver, enlargement of the spleen, sepsis, autoimmune diseases, and certain medications can all cause thrombocytopenia.
If a Blood Test shows that your Platelet count is low, it’s important to work with your healthcare practitioner to figure out what’s causing it.
If you have mild thrombocytopenia, you may be able to raise your Platelet count through diet and supplements. However, if you have a severely low Platelet count, you’ll likely need medical treatment to avoid any complications.
How to tell if your count is too low
The symptoms of a low Platelet count only occur when levels are particularly low. Mildly low levels often do not produce any symptoms. The symptoms include:
- Dark, red spots on the skin (petechiae)
- Headaches after minor injuries
- Easy bruising
- Spontaneous or excessive bleeding
- Bleeding from the mouth or nose after brushing teeth
People who experience symptoms should contact their doctor immediately. Low Platelet count can cause severe complications without treatment.
Cancer and Platelets
Low Platelet count is a major side effect of Cancer Treatment. Some types of Chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing Platelet production. (This damage is usually temporary) Other times, the cancer itself causes the problem. Leukaemia and Lymphoma can invade the bone marrow and prevent the patient’s body from producing the Platelets it needs.
Without a Platelet transfusion, these cancer patients face life-threatening bleeding.
How to increase Platelet count naturally
The human blood contains a number of different cells that serve various purposes. The cells include red blood cells, white blood cells and Platelets. Platelets are cells that are responsible for helping the blood clot in the event that we cut ourselves or have any bleeding anywhere else.
In order for the Platelets to function normally, it is important for us to be physically healthy. However, in certain conditions, the Platelet count can reduce dramatically which can be a problem for overall health. If the Platelet counts are low, it can result in not just minor bleeding from tiny cuts and bruises but also in catastrophic bleeding inside the gut or around the brain.
It is therefore essential to know how to increase Platelet count either through medication or naturally. In this article, we shall take a brief look at how you can increase the Platelet counts in your blood through natural methods in various clinical conditions.
Foods to increase Platelet count:
It is rather difficult to increase Platelet count through diet and exercise alone. Sometimes, certain conditions such as dengue fever and viral fever may require the infusion of Platelets in the form of a Platelet transfusion given intravenously to restore normal Platelet counts.
That being said, if you are looking for how to increase Platelet counts naturally, then the list of foods below should help you to some extent.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are at its source of vitamin K, are very much essential in the blood clotting pathway. But they also have a property as a food to increase Platelet count to some extent. In addition to just parsley, basil, spinach and celery, other vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage and watercress are also useful in increasing Platelet count. Karam ki saag or kale is rich in vitamin K which greatly promotes Platelets in the blood. Thus, consumption of these along with your daily vegetables can be expected to help a great deal.
2. Papaya and Papaya Leaf Extract
If you have a low blood Platelet count, there cannot be a better natural remedy than consuming papaya which is probably the most well-known food to increase Platelet count. If you are looking for how to increase Platelet count during dengue fever, then consuming a glass or two of papaya leaf extract regularly can do the trick. It is not clear how this really works, but clinical trials have clearly demonstrated a significant benefit of papaya leaf extract in increasing Platelet counts in viral fever.
However, the juice of papaya leaf can be rather bitter and some people experience Nausea and possibly even Vomiting at times. In such a situation, oral medication in the form of capsules is now available in India that contains the same quantity of extract needed to boost up Platelet counts.
The Seeds of pomegranate are packed with iron and can improve blood counts tremendously. Pomegranate is now prescribed as a fruit that has to be consumed regularly if Platelet counts have to be increased. If you are looking for foods to increase Platelet count during malaria, then try having a bowl of pomegranate fruit a couple of times a day to give you the boost you need. Not just that, pomegranate also contains numerous antioxidants and vitamins C which can help boost immunity and help fight infections effectively.
Pumpkin is another food that has amazing properties of increasing Platelet count. This is because it contains vitamin A, which can have some benefit in enhancing the number of Platelets being produced by the bone marrow.
Other vitamins A rich foods such as carrots, sweet potato and kale are also beneficial. If you are looking for how to increase Platelet count during pregnancy, you may want to talk to your doctor about increasing your intake of these foods.
Wheatgrass contains high levels of chlorophyll that is structurally similar to the haemoglobin in our blood. It is extremely beneficial when it comes to boosting Platelet count, but has additional benefits of increasing the total quantity of red blood cells and white blood cells in the blood. Freshly made Wheatgrass juice can be extremely useful if you are looking for foods to increase Platelet count during Chemotherapy.
Being iron-rich foods, raisins are helpful in improving the RBC and Platelet count in patients. Conditions such as low Platelet count often occur due to iron deficiency. Including raisins as a part of your diet will help boost the iron levels in your body.
7. Coconut Oil
Loaded with healthy fats and other nutrients, coconut oil is known for providing various health benefits. Adding edible grade coconut oil to salads and using it for cooking has been found to be useful in increasing the blood Platelet count.
8. Indian Gooseberries
More commonly known as Amla, consuming 3 to 4 Indian Gooseberries on an empty stomach every morning is known to be highly useful in increasing the blood Platelet count. Apart from this, amla is also beneficial in boosting the immune system. In fact, studies on dengue fever have recommended patients to include amla juice as a part of their diet.
9. Beetroot and carrot juice
For their high iron and vital mineral content, both beetroot and carrot help in increasing blood Platelet. You can consume them any way you like, as salad, soup or juice.
10. Flax seed
Flax seeds, too, contain essential omega acids. Flax Seeds are tasteless but you could grind them and mix with smoothies or soup, or simply have flax seed oil. This helps in increasing Platelet count.
Kiwi is another fruit that is rich in Vitamin C. Kiwi helps in increasing blood Platelet count though the effect may not be instantaneous.
Tomatoes are a rich source of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Both these nutrients help in combating reduced blood Platelets in your body. Raw chunks or juice are the best modes of having tomatoes for this purpose.
Dates, too, are quite rich in iron and at the same time delicious to munch on. Throw a few into your fruit bowl every morning for a good dose of Platelet boosting nutrients. However, dates and raisins both have a high glycaemic index, and, therefore, too much of either is not advisable.
14. Iron-rich foods
Iron is essential to your body’s ability to produce healthy blood cells. A 2012 study Trusted Source also found that it increased Platelet counts in participants with iron-deficiency anaemia. You can find high levels of iron in certain foods, including mussels, pumpkin seeds, lentils.
15. Vitamin-C rich foods
Vitamin C helps your Platelets group together and function efficiently. It also helps you to absorb iron, which may also help to increase Platelet counts. The book Vitamin C: Its Chemistry and Biochemistry reported a rise in Platelet count in a small group of patients who received Vitamin C supplementation.
Good sources of Vitamin C include mangoes, pineapple, broccoli, green or red bell peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower
16. Folate-rich foods
Folate is a B vitamin that helps your cells, including blood cells. It appears naturally in many foods, and it’s added to others in the form of folic acid. Sources of natural folate include peanuts, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, oranges etc.
17. Vitamin D-rich foods
Vitamin D contributes to the proper functioning of the bones, muscles, nerves, and immune system.
According to the Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA), Vitamin D also plays an essential role in the function of the bone marrow cells that produce Platelets and other blood cells.
Strict vegetarians and vegans can get Vitamin D from fortified breakfast cereals, fortified orange juice, fortified dairy alternatives, such as soy milk and soy yogurt, supplements, UV-exposed Mushrooms.
18. Vitamin K-rich foods
Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health. According to an informal PDSA survey, 26.98 percent of people who took vitamin K reported an improvement in their Platelet counts and bleeding symptoms.
Foods rich in vitamin K include natto, a fermented soybean dish, leafy greens, such as collards, turnip greens, spinach, and kale, broccoli, soybeans and soybean oil, pumpkin.
Foods to avoid
Certain foods and drinks can reduce Platelet counts
- Aspartame – an artificial sweetener
- Cranberry juice
- Quinine – a substance in tonic water and bitter lemon
- Canned and frozen foods and leftovers. The nutritional value of food deteriorates with time
- White flour, white rice and processed foods
- Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or trans-fats
- Dairy products
- Alcoholic beverages