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11 super foods to increase your blood platelets

Last updated on: October 16, 2019 10:23 IST

Foods rich in folate, vitamin B 12, vitamin C, D, K and iron are known to increase the platelet counts.

How to increase your blood platelets

Image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pixabay.com

Platelets form a very crucial part of the human blood.

They are mainly responsible for tissue repair, blood clotting and wound healing purposes.

These cells are not visible to the naked eye and can be seen only under microscopes.

The platelet cells appear to be in the form of small plates in their non-active form.

In case of any injury, these platelets bind to the site of the damaged vessel and form a clot at the site of injury to stop further bleeding.

Hence it is very important to maintain a normal platelet count.

It is very important to keep a track of the platelet counts because low platelets can often lead to easy bruising, frequent bleeding of gums, nose and GI tract, whereas too many platelets can lead to blood clotting which is often linked to cardiovascular risk.

A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter of blood.

Having more than 450,000 platelets leads to a condition known as thrombocytosis

However, having less than 150,000 platelets leads to a condition known as thrombocytopenia.

Where you have thrombocytopenia or thrombocytosis, you can find out by doing a simple blood test such as Complete Blood Count (CBC)

What can cause thrombocytosis?

Abnormal bone marrow cells cause an increase in the blood platelets. This is known as Primary thrombocytosis

Also, diseases such as anaemia, cancer, infections can lead to a higher platelet count.

Once can see blood clots on arms and legs in such condition and which if untreated can increase the cardiovascular risk.

What can cause thrombocytopenia?

Platelet count drops usually when there is interference which prevents the body from producing platelets.

This interference can easily be caused by medications, inherited conditions, cancer (leukaemia or lymphoma), chemotherapy, kidney infection, excessive alcohol consumption or quinine in tonic water.

Slightly low platelet counts that do not show any sign of symptoms may not need the treatment.

For very low platelet counts, the doctor might advise to discontinue certain medications or start necessary medication.

In the case of severity, one might have to opt for blood transfusion.

How can we increase the platelets?

A healthy diet plays a very important role in maintaining overall well-being.

Slightly low platelet count may not always need medical attention and can be solved by improving the quality of diet.

There are certain foods that help increase the platelet counts.

Foods rich in folate, vitamin B 12, vitamin C, D, K and iron are known to increase the platelet counts.

1. Papaya leaf

Bitter but effective, the Papaya leaf has many flavonoids, alkaloid, phenol’s, anti-oxidants, free radical scavenging activity and helps stabilise RBCs. Hence, this will help to stabilize the platelet count.

As per a study, the oral administration of papaya leaf extract was associated with an early rise in platelet count even as early as 24 hours. 

2. Wheatgrass

In a study published in the International Journal of Universal Pharmacy and Life Sciences, 2011 edition, stated that wheatgrass was proven to be beneficial in increasing the platelet count.

This is because it is rich in chlorophyll and has a similar molecular structure like haemoglobin.

Drinking half a cup of wheatgrass daily with few drops of lime daily can considerable increase platelet counts.

3. Pomegranate

The small red seeds of pomegranate are filled with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties.

Also, certain scientific researches have confirmed that pomegranate is effective in increasing the platelet counts and also prevent the risk of certain diseases too.

You can add it as a fruit or add on salad toppings or to smoothies and breakfast bowl.

4. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A and also helps in increasing the platelets and regulate the proteins produced by the cell. The regulation of protein is crucial to increase the platelets count in the blood.

To reap the benefits one can have pumpkin juice or add pumpkin to smoothies, stews, soups or have it like a puree along with a salad.

5. Vitamin C rich foods

Food such as orange, lemon, kiwi, bell peppers, spinach and broccoli are a rich source of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant and a high dose of this vitamin prevents the free radical damage caused to the platelets.

Have it as a snack in between meals or add it to the salads.

6. Raisins

Raisins are a good source of iron helps to increase RBC and platelet counts. Anaemia and low platelet counts are linked to low iron levels hence including raisins can help improve the platelet levels.

Top it on the yoghurt or add it to the trail mix and enjoy it.   

7. Brussel sprouts

Brussel sprouts are not great in taste but their health benefits make it a must to include in the diet. These are a great source of vitamin K and have the potential to increase the platelet count. Vit. K deficiency can cause continuous bleeding, including vitamin k rich foods like Brussel sprouts, which can help prevent this.

Grilled and well-seasoned Brussel sprouts are the best. But you can also blanch and add them to your salad bowls

8. Beetroot

Beetroots are often recommended for anaemic patients.

According to studies, 1 bowl of carrot and beet, twice a week can help improve platelet counts.

You can add them to salads, soups or have it in the form of juice to enjoy the benefits.

9. Amla / Indian gooseberry

Amla is a rich source of vitamin C, antioxidants, helps boost the immune system and helps prevent all the health conditions which lead to low platelet count.

You can have a 3-4 gooseberry empty stomach in the morning or have it in the form of juice or pickles. 

10. Leafy greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and fenugreek leaves are a good source of vitamin K. Hence it’s a good idea making them a part of your diet when your platelet counts have hit the bottom.

Add these greens to your salads and smoothies or steam/ blanch it and make it a part of your daily diet.

Apart from these, lean proteins, fish oil, sesame oil, B-12 rich foods like eggs, chicken, fish and milk will also help for the same.

11. Water

Staying hydrated is of utmost importance.

Besides containing proteins, sugar, and fats, blood plasma in which your platelets are found also contains around 92% water.

All these sources altogether will help increase the platelet count.

Also, when including these foods in diet one must make sure that they are avoiding a list of things that can interfere with improving the platelet count.

What you must AVOID

  • Alcohol: People who are heavy drinkers and have a low platelet count must avoid alcohol as it interferes with platelet formation.
  • Aspartame (a type of artificial sweetener)
  • Quinine (mostly found in tonic waters)

If your platelet count is slightly or severely low, don't forget to consult a nutritionist or a doctor before finalising your diet.

Afaaf Shaikh is nutritionist at Digestive Health Institute by Dr. Muffi in Mumbai.

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Afaaf Shaikh
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