If you need a little refresher on high school biology class, platelets are small blood components that help your blood to clot. Low blood platelets, a condition called thrombocytopenia, can cause excessive bleeding in almost any part of your body. For this reason, healthy platelets must be present in sufficient numbers for optimal clotting to occur. If you need to increase your blood platelets naturally, you may do so by making simple dietary changes. Consult your doctor for advice more specific to your individual needs.
Green Leafy Vegetables, Whole Foods and Organic Foods
Opt for healthy foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole foods and organic foods. Green leafy vegetables are a good source of iron, a nutrient which your body needs to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Examples of these types of vegetables include collard greens, kale, bok choy, spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard, rapini, arugula, cabbage, dandelion greens and mustard greens. Platelet Disorder Support Association, or PDSA for short, recommends eating whole foods such as whole wheat products, brown rice and whole grain cereals as they retain all their vital constituents in the original form.
Organic foods are grown using natural fertilizers, while non-organic foods are grown using pesticides and herbicides. According to PDSA, pesticides and herbicides have been shown to lower blood platelets and aggravate autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases arise from an inappropriate immune response of the body against healthy cells present in the body. Additives and preservatives can cause an excess production of disease-causing free radicals that can hamper platelet production.
Foods Rich in Calcium and Vitamin K
Calcium and vitamin K are important to your body as they help the platelets form a clot. The absence of these nutrients will make your blood take longer than normal to clot. This can lead to uncontrolled bleeding and even death in some circumstances. Foods that are rich in calcium are dark green vegetables, tofu, dried beans, broccoli, almonds, sesame seeds and spinach. List of vitamin K-rich foods include Brussels sprouts, okra, cabbage, asparagus, beet, raw lettuce, prunes and kiwi.
Anti-inflammatory Diet and Gluten-Free Diet
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Inflammation can impair the functioning of hematopoietic stem cells, the key cells in bone marrow that give rise to platelets, states PDSA. In addition, it can promote the development of autoimmune diseases like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, and can make them worse. Good examples of anti-inflammatory foods include flaxseed oil, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, whole fruits, carrots, lean poultry, tofu, almonds and walnuts.
Foods such as wheat, barley and rye contain gluten that can cause celiac disease, an autoimmune disease of the small bowel. PDSA reports that celiac disease has been linked to low blood platelet counts.
PDSA recommends people to exclude dairy products, food additives, trans fats and alcohol from their diet as these foods could reduce platelet counts. Alcoholic beverages can destroy your bone marrow. Minimize eating foods such as refined sugar, carbonated beverages and processed foods as they can negatively affect your platelet count. Foods that contain quinine such as bitter melon, bitter lemon and tonic water, and aspartame-rich foods such as cakes, diet soda and sugar-free candy can also decrease your platelet count. Therefore, you should cut these foods out of your diet. Also, reduce the consumption of foods that can interfere with blood clotting such as tomatoes, ginger, garlic, blueberries, ginseng and onions.
Mala Srivastava covers health and business for several online publications. She holds a Master of Science in microbiology from India's HNB Garhwal University and a Master of Pharmaceutical Business Management from ICFAI University.