What is the Ideal White Blood Cell Count?


a higher white blood cell count may be an important predictor for cardiovascular disease incidents and mortality cancer mortality all cause mortality a decline in lung function so an important predictor for heart attacks strokes declining lung function dying from cancer and premature death in general no surprise is the number of white blood cells we have circulating in our bloodstream is a marker of systemic inflammation our body produces more white blood cells day-to-day in response to inflammatory insults we’ve known about this link between higher white counts and heart attacks since the 70s when we found that higher heart attack risk was associated with higher white blood cell counts just like it was with higher cholesterol levels and higher blood pressures something that’s been found in nearly every study done since then decades of studies involving hundreds of thousands of patients showing dramatically higher mortality rates and those with higher white counts but why why does white blood cell count predict mortality maybe because it’s a marker of inflammation and oxidation in our body in fact maybe even a biomarker for how fast were aging but it may be more than just an indicator of inflammation but an active player contributing directly to disease via a variety of mechanisms including the actual obstruction of blood flow the average diameter of white blood cells is like seven and a half micrometers whereas our tiniest vessels are only like five micrometers wide so the white blood cell has to squish down into like a sausage shape to squeeze through and when there’s inflammation present these cells can get sticky here’s more images of a white blood cell plugging up a vessel as it exits a small artery trying to squeeze into a capillary slowing down or even momentarily stopping a blood flow and if it gets stuck there it can end up releasing all its internal weaponry normally reserved for microbial invaders and damage our blood vessels this may be why in the days leading up to a stroke or heart attack you may find a spike in the white cell count whether white count is just a marker of inflammation or an active participant it’s better to be on the low side how can we reduce the level of inflammation in our body staying away from even secondhand smoke can help drop your white count about half of a point those that exercise also appear to have an advantage but you don’t know if it’s cause and effect unless you put it to the test two months of Zumba classes just one or two hours a week led to about a point and a half drop in white count in fact maybe that’s one of the reasons exercise is so protective but is that just because they lost weight fitness and fatness appear to both play a role more than half 50 1.5 percent of obese persons low Fitness have white counts above 6.6 but those who are more fit or who have less fat are less likely to beat up that high of course that could just be because exercisers and leaner individuals are eating healthier eating less inflammatory diets how do we know excess body fat itself increases inflammation increases the white count you’d have to find some way to get people to lose weight without changing their diet or exercise but how is that possible liposuction if you suck about a quart of fat out of people you can significantly drop their white count by about a point so maybe this get us to rethink the so-called normal reference range for white blood cell count maybe we should revise it downward like we’ve done for cholesterol and triglycerides up until now we’ve just based normal values on people that might be harboring significant background inflammatory disease if you just restrict it to those with normal c-reactive protein another indicator of inflammation then instead of normal being four point five to ten maybe we should instead revise it closer to three to nine okay but where did the healthiest populations fall those not suffering from the ravages of chronic inflammatory diseases like heart disease and common cancers populations eating diets centered around whole plant foods averaged about five wears in the u.s. at the time was closer to seven or eight the reason we know it’s not genetic is if you take those living on traditional rural African diets who are down around four or five and move them to Britain they end up closer to six seven or eight ironically the researchers thought this was a good thing referring to the lower white counts on the uncivilized diet as neutropenic meaning too few white blood cells they noted that during an infection or pregnancy where you really do need more white cells the white count came right up to where ever necessary so bone marrow of those eating traditional plant-based diets had the capacity to create as many white cells as needed but suffers from under stimulation they’re just not smoking enough cigarettes and eating as many inflammatory foods similar findings were reported in Western plant eaters with an apparent stepwise drop in white count as diets got more and more plant-based but maybe there are non dietary factors such as lower smoking rates in those eating healthier what you need our interventional trials to put it to the test just 21 days of removing meat eggs dairy alcohol and junk affected a significant drop in white count even in people who started out down at 5.7 those that started out even higher patients with rheumatoid arthritis starting up around 7 no change in the control group that didn’t change the diet but a one and a half point drop within a month on whole food plant-based nutrition that’s a 20% drop that’s more than the drop in inflammation one might get quitting a 28-year pack a day smoking habit the most extraordinary drop I’ve seen was in a study of 35 asthmatics after four months of a whole food plant-based diet their average white count dropped nearly 60% from up around 12 down to 5 though there was no control group and not enough patients to achieve statistical significance if white blood cell count is such a clear predictor of mortality so inexpensive and reliable and available why isn’t it used more often for diagnosis and prognosis maybe it’s a little too inexpensive the industry seems more interested in fancy new risk factors you can bill for [Music]

94 thoughts on “What is the Ideal White Blood Cell Count?

  1. The longer I was vegan and started exercising every day the lower my white blood cell count became. My doctor wondered why so she sent me to a hematologist who after running every test couldn't come up with a reason. NO ONE asked me a single thing about my diet. I'm so sick of doctors knowing nothing about nutrition.

  2. I'm at over 9 and have been consistently, but my protein was fine and sedimentation rate and all that, and I'm certainly not obese, higher end of healthy weight and losing. I have CEBV and CFS, but my neutrophils are low and Eosinophils quite high. Perhaps chronic stress plays a role? Cause I definitely have had that for many years. I've also been vegan for almost 2 years mostly whole food.

  3. 3 meses siendo Plantbased y mis glóbulos blancos bajaron increíblemente. Lo comprobé por estudios de laboratorio que me hice, no sólo eso, muchas cosas más que descubrí!!!! Gracias Doctor!!!!

  4. I and several of my family have M.E., which current research suggests is something inflammatory/immune-related.

    Back in 2009 (after about 8 years of ME) my WBC was 7.5. I've since then tried an anti-inflammatory diet, plus more recently stopped eating meat and taken up (organic) food-growing and some easy cycling. So, I'm wondering what my reading would be now in 2017.

    Not sure how to get the test done, but I'll come back here when I do.

  5. Thanks Dr. G….greatly appreciate all you do…
    3.6 on WBC here…so go WFPB no oil vegan!

  6. the doc really needs a new microphone
    it also kept on dying and getting low in the last Q&A (at some points it does in this vid too)

  7. I had a high WBC on every test when I was younger; the doctors never had an answer and said I must have a little virus. I've recently had some tests, so I'll have to look at it and post it here. But I wonder how much food allergies cause WBC to go up. Since becoming an adult, I've found that all my symptoms of illness went down when I figured out what my allergies are. It is so maddening to know all of my symptoms were caused by food, but the doctors never thought about it even though the symptoms were classic.

  8. I just looked mine up, I got WBC of 3.4. I'm a 44y/o nonsmoking, non-drinking, vegan & follow as much of Dr Gregors advice as I can.

  9. So if low wbc is a sign of health, then what does low wbc mean for someone who if fighting a disease or illness?

  10. Brilliant research! Thank you Dr. Greger! Now I'm going to celebrate my low, low, low WBC!🎉 Great news!! You're the best!! Cheers to exercise & a whole food plant based diet! 🌿🌎💚

  11. Perhaps the reason that white blood cell count is reduced on a plant based diet is due to a reduction in the pH of bodily fluids. When our sinus fluid, urine, joint fluid, or any other fluid besides our blood, is too acidic it breaks down tissue more quickly. It's like when people marinade foods to break down their tissue. The more acid we produce to digest animals and processed foods the more acidic our fluids become and the more dead cells we have to clean out and replace. The acidic fluids age us quicker, cause swelling, and cause an increase in white blood cells needed to help clear out the excess dead tissue. I hope someone will study the correlation between white blood cell count and pH of bodily fluids. pH could be an even cheaper indication of disease that people could monitor at home.

  12. please do a video on a ideal red blood count. mine is 3.96 wich is considered low on the "reference range scale" I have been to hemotologist and my blood work is great. I'm told this is just normal for me due to no other markers for concern. she says only 90 percent of population falls in reference range. you can be out side or reference range and still be perfectly healthy. have you ever come across anything like this? I have been a vegan for 8 yrs as well. thanks so much !

  13. My reading of the literature is that 3.5-6 is optimal:

    https://michaellustgarten.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/blood-testing-whats-optimal-for-wbc-levels/

  14. My WBC counts were taken twice due to the doc saying they were too low, regardless of the fact that everything else came back perfectly fine, 1st panel was: 2.9 and my second was: 3.2,
    I'm 31. Vegan for 2 years. I eat Whole Foods mixed with faux meats/cheeses every so often. I do not use any tobacco, and I drink wine occasionally.
    Looks like I'm pretty fucking healthy 😊

  15. Mine dropped below the normal range when I switched to a plant-based diet, though not by a lot. The normal range is 4-11 K/µL. Mine is 3.8.

  16. Agreed with the entire video up until the end. It is not used in diagnosis and prognosis of CHD because it isn't specific enough. Someone can get an infection from staying in a hospital and their WBC would go way up. Markers like CRP and Troponin I will always be better because they are much more specific. -Vegan MLS(ASCP)

  17. Hmmm… I had a well paying corporate job maintaining equipment for the sterilization of newly manufactured medical equipment. The work wasn't too demanding, physically.

    Part of working there was receiving a thorough physical… and I was told I had a high white count.

    I was eating mostly vegan, and working out regularly. The only problem I could see was that I'm a night owl, and was working a day shift, starting at 6am. I was constantly sleep deprived.

    I was dismissed within 2 weeks of being notified of my high numbers.

    I always have been a health nut, taking well researched supplements, working out, eating good food…

    Although the job paid well, I didn't like it… but this WBC stuff was weird… I wonder if it was their way of getting rid of me with a fabrication… Meh… life goes on… NEXT!

    I'm looking forward to the next blood test.

  18. low wbc could also be due to low b12 levels, so don't get too exited just because you're a vegan and your wbc is 3.0, or whatever. especially if your rbc is low too, and mch is high. he should have clarified that in the video.

  19. Guys, I'm talking to vegans here and other generally health-oriented people, are you pissed off at other people who smoke, drink too much, eat shit food, etc and never exercise? How do feel/what do you think when you see all this toxicity in front of you?

  20. Mine is 2.98 in my last Easter exam…never known it were such an important data…interesting enough, the reference range is considered 4 to 11 !

  21. 99.9% of people people never put the most significant dietary change to the test and thus will forever be confused about how to completely control their short term and long term health. I refer to a REAL dietary test not some short lived, short sighted so called "healthy diet" fad or craze.

  22. great video. Any suggestions what screening blood work a person should get for cardiovascular screening if we are pretty healthy/ Is C-reactive Protein, homocysteine and WBC counts enough, just as a general screen?

  23. Bad joke [6:06]: "Bone marrow of those eating traditional plant-based diet has the capacity to create as many white [blood] cells as needed but suffers from understimulation. They're just not smoking enough cigarettes and (Hah) eating… as many inflammatory foods." —Michael Greger.

  24. What about high CRP levels? I am concerned as I was told this is a sign of heart disease. I have very high CRP and would love to get it to the normal range. Any information about CRP what it is, what it means, how can it be lowered would be appreciated.

  25. Right after I went vegan, about two years ago my WBC was at 4.0 & a few months ago it was 3.1. I've been vegan for two years and before that vegetarian. Don't smoke, don't drink and my vit B12 is normal range. This last time my doctor referred me to a hematologist and the hematologist found nothing wrong. They tested my WBC three weeks later and it jumped to 4.2! The only change in my life style was that I added an additional 80g of fat per day into my diet at the time (since I was doing a raw vegan cleanse) and needed A LOT of fat in my diet to make it sustainable for me. Before that I followed a HCLF diet. It's interesting now knowing what I've experienced and seeing the correlation between fat, inflammation and WBC. Dr. G keep up the good work!

  26. Hi, Could you also add the links to the studies and or paper you used in the video? It would be great to do reviews and check the sources.. Thank you.

  27. My recent blood test came back with a WBC of 4.1. Honestly a bit surprising to me, considering I'm asthmatic and suffering from allergies quite a bit in the summer. Also I suffer from anxiety causing me stress, which can raise WBC.
    So I have pretty much constant low grade inflammation, but according to my lab results a WBC on the lower end of the normal range (they noted normal range as 4.0-10.0). Not quite sure how that works.

  28. Huh, I am always getting flagged for low WBC on my blood work. I was sent to hematologist for dropping under 4 several times. Not a vegan though, I just don't eat much processed food. Looks like nothing to worry about. In fact quite the opposite.

  29. raw vegan at 3.4 and my doc was worried a bit but I immediate thought of it being a good thing possibhly

  30. My wbc count varies from 14,000 to 19,000 most recent 17,500 and no one can find a reason. I’m a smoker but I doubt it raises it that high

  31. Cold water exposure and winter swimming is supposed to be healthy. But it also increases white blood cell count. How do the two things go together and would you recommend the practice based on these findings? Is a high white blood cell count maybe only a marker of unhealthy inflammation when it comes from a bad diet? And if it is caused by another natural stress-factor like cold it is no unhealthy?

  32. Got mine today 1.3 year Vegan 3.8 here. I was concerned at first which took the fun out of my low cholesterol😀 thanks!

  33. I eat low carb high fat (every meal is fatty meat + veggies) and my wbc count always sits between 3.6-3.8. I would assume what we LCHF and vegetarians/vegans have in common is that we all are health focused so we eliminate processed foods, exercise, don't smoke, etc.

  34. Just had my checked two weeks ago 3.4 I'm an extremely healthy vegan, very disciplined…No dairy/sugar 10-years/ no meats/oils and eggs 4-years. I'm also a certified nutritional consultant so my diet is on point!!! Yay Veganism…..!

  35. I just got my blood test today and my WBC is 3.5. is it really bad? my doctor told me that I should wear mask all the time to cover my mouth. should I worry about that?? anyone please share your experience with me.

  36. 2.8 for me and don’t remember when I was sick since I cut out meat, dairy and processed food and ate whole food plant base.

  37. Thank you Dr. Greger, I was tested twice for low wbc, 3.8. I am very relieved now. I feel great and rarely get mildly sick.

  38. My wbc is always between 3.7 – 4.0 and I don’t remember the last time I got sick. Also, I’ve been eating meat my whole life and I eat a lot of junk food as well. I think it’s just hereditary.

  39. I was recently sent to a blood specialist to run further tests because they were alarmed with my low white blood cell count. I was freaking out because I was in a waiting room with a lot of cancer patients, too many to count. They asked me all these cancer related questions…
    I conclude that I am Vegan and simply healthy 😊

  40. The creator; call it God, call it Karma or extremely advanced ancient aliens meddled with ape DNA, has made human bodies to be vegans, like it or not. You can't deny what you are right now. EATING ANIMALS IS ALL WRONG AND PERVERTED TO THE ABSOLUTE POWER OF INFINITY! >>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWALOMIAkjc&t=31s

  41. The results in this study have more to do with caloric restriction then having a so called plant base diet. I my self got an even lower WBC of 2.6 with a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting.

  42. I’ve been in the 3.0 to 3.7 range my whole life and I eat meat but I also excersise 6 days a week and I hardly eat any processed foods. Plus I don’t drink or smoke. The average American does not fall into that category, thus the range of 4.5-10

  43. I'm at 3.11 (10E9/L) Reference range in SWE (3.5 – 8.8)

    So im at the lowest of the "new" ref range according to greger. No meat, alcohol or smoking in 6 years.

  44. My husbands hemoglobin is 21 , his hemocrit is 58. Been tested for PV and jak2 . Negative. yay .. RBC is about 5 but wbc is 3.88 usually like 5.something to 7. Still searching for answers about my husband since 2018. He does smoke…..but cut way back. Anyone out there like him? We are in NC IN THE USA. And he is 58 years old 5"8 approx 168 pds.

  45. My dads cell count,white, went from 11000 to 12000 to 13000 all the way to 19000 and this is the last I’ve heard at this moment,how high can it go idk?

  46. Thanks, vegan pal, I'm on keto and IF, I dropped 15 kg and I wonder what is going on with my WBCs. Best wishes.

  47. My numbers are 3.5. Hey all my life I'm lookin to work out and train hard eat cleaner as time goes on and my Doc says I'm conderned cause I noticed your WBC has gone down over the past few years… Whaaaat! I'm thinkin that's supposed to be a good thing right!.. Cummon

  48. My WBC count is slightly lower then average, I have no infection, no issues, have not missed work for the last 10 years. The Dr seemed to suggest this is an issue, Thanks for being a educator and providing this. (but I do eat organic eggs, and organic , raw cheese but moderately and eat mostly vegetables, olives, olive oil, berries and that is about it.

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