Blood is made up of liquid, called plasma, and various different types of cells. An average-sized man has about 5-6 litres of blood in his body; a woman has slightly less.
Blood cells, which can be seen under a microscope, make up about 40% of the blood's volume. Blood cells are divided into three main types:
Red cells (erythrocytes). These make blood a red colour. Millions of red blood cells are made each day. Red cells contain a chemical called haemoglobin.
White cells (leukocytes). There are different types of white cells which are all part of the immune system.
Platelets. These are tiny and help the blood to clot if we cut ourselves.
Plasma is the liquid part of blood and makes up about 60% of the blood's volume. Plasma is mainly made from water, but also contains many different proteins and other chemicals such as hormones, antibodies, enzymes, glucose, fat particles, salts, etc.
The remaining clear fluid is called serum.
Blood has a variety of different functions. These include:
- Transport. Blood takes oxygen from the lungs to the cells of the body. It takes carbon dioxide from the body's cells to the lungs where it is breathed out. Blood carries nutrients, hormones and waste products around the body.
- Regulation. Blood helps to keep the acid-alkali balance of the body in check. It also plays a part in regulating body temperature. Increasing the amount of blood flowing close to the skin helps the body to lose heat.
- Protection. White blood cells attack and destroy invading bacteria and other pathogens. Blood clots, which protects the body from losing too much blood after injury.
Foods for Red Blood Cell Production
Several foods contain one or more nutrients important to red blood cell production. Leafy greens contain vitamins A, B6 and B9, as well as copper and iron. Fortified cereals, such as bran cereal, contain vitamins B6, B9 and B12, and might also contain iron, while lean meats provide sources of B vitamins and iron. Oily fish or parental seed oils that provide sufficient essential fatty acids and their derivative fatty acids are vital for providing strong membranes of red blood cells and ensuring optimisation of blood’s physical and bio-chemical properties. Good levels of unadulterated fatty acids provide protection from inflammation and ensure that lipoproteins are effectively used in repair of blood vessels and in hormone developments.
The white blood cells are very dependent on our intestinal flora being nourished and beneficial bacteria being encouraged to flourish. Fermented foods and other prebiotics can achieve better bowel activity and where dysfunctions are likely then probiotic food supplements could be very helpful.