Blood is one of the most important things that helps a person live. About 4 to 6 litres of blood is present in an average human body depending upon the gender and structure of a person. It is known that excessive loss of blood can cause death. In medical terminology this is called “Exsanguination” and a lot of people lose their lives because of this. This is exactly why donating blood is imperative. You must have an idea about how a human body can produce extra blood that can be donated but, through this article, you can know more about blood donation and what to eat before and after donating blood. The article also contains details that will help you understand the benefits of blood donation and how donated blood is used to save lives. Read on.

Before And After Donating Blood: What To Eat And Benefits - Acko

How Is Donated Blood Used To Help Others?:

Donating blood is one of the most important types of donation because it can help a person survive. The donated blood is not used as it is. This blood is first screened for various diseases that have a possibility of getting transmitted through blood. For example, HIV or hepatitis.

  1. Blood that is free of any diseases can be deemed as fit for use. Blood is made up of three main parts – blood cells, plasma, and platelets. 
  2. These components can be used separately to treat separate conditions like blood-related disorders, anaemia, cancer, blood loss during childbirth, cardiac surgeries, etc. 
  3. It can also be used for research purposes and developing new treatments for illnesses related to blood.

The components are transferred to a patient through a process called intravenous blood transfusion. This process can improve the quality of life for people that are diagnosed with an illness which cannot be cured.

Dos And Don’ts Before Donating Blood:

Donating blood is in itself an amazing gesture that can save at least 3 lives (because you will be donating at least 3 different components with your blood). However, blood donations should be done in the correct manner. If you do not take care of certain things, you may be sent back. Here is a list of some things that you should do and avoid for successful blood donation:

1. Things To Do Before Blood Donation:

  • Consider Taking Someone Along For Company:
    This will achieve two things for you, one is that you will have someone to talk to while in the process of blood donation. Secondly, you will have someone to take care of you in case you feel slightly dizzy or light-headed.
  • Drink Plenty Of Water:
    Water helps you to keep hydrated and keeps your bodily functions in check. It will avoid the chances of low blood pressure.
  • Eat A Good Meal:
    Experts advise that you should never donate blood on an empty stomach. Try to eat a light but fulfilling meal before donating blood.

2. Things To Avoid Before Blood Donation:

  • Avoid Blood Donation If You Are Not Feeling Well:
    There could be numerous reasons for not feeling well. It could be a simple flu or a symptom of an underlying condition. Either way, donating blood is not a good idea when you are not feeling well.
  • Avoid Smoking Or Drinking Before Donating Blood:
    First of all, smoking and drinking are injurious to health so one should avoid it altogether. Secondly, alcohol and nicotine can stay in your blood for a very long time. Donating blood that is laced with nicotine and/or alcohol is unhealthy for the person receiving it.
  • Avoid Donating Blood Without Eating i.e. On An Empty Stomach:
    Drawing blood from your body will have an effect on your blood pressure for a short while. Low blood pressure can lead to certain conditions like fainting, dizziness, shivering, etc. These conditions will worsen if you donate blood on an empty stomach.

The Best Foods To Eat Before Donating Blood:

There are certain types of best foods to eat before donating blood that will help you get through the process with less hassle. Eating healthy food will also help the patient receiving your blood get a better quality of this liquid. Also, the health benefits of donating blood are more compared to not donating it on a regular basis. Here is a list of food items that you should consume regularly if you wish to donate blood:

1. Iron-rich foods:

Donating blood can lead to a reduction in the levels of iron in your body. Since iron plays a vital role in various functions related to the body, one should take extra care to fortify their food with iron if blood donation is on the cards. Foods like chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, green peas, meat, cashews and almonds, sunflower seeds, wholemeal bread, brown rice, spinach, fish, apricots, etc. are rich in iron.

2. Food rich in Vitamin C:

Eating only iron will not suffice if you are looking to get complete advantage of having a fortified meal. Vitamin C plays an important role in the absorption of iron in the body. Thus, it is equally important that you include food items that are rich in Vitamin C before blood donation. Green leafy vegetables, tomato, oranges, lemon, kiwi, broccoli, capsicums, etc. are rich in Vitamin C.

3. Water:

Water helps in controlling the blood pressure that can drop after you have donated blood. Thus, it is recommended by experts that a donor should be well hydrated before blood donation. Drink at least 2 to 3 glasses of water 2 hours before donating blood. Remember that you might be turned away if the medical staff feels that you are not hydrated enough for the purpose of blood donation.

Also, read: Health Insurance for COVID-19 (Corona Kavach)

Benefits Of Donating Blood:

There are multiple benefits of donating blood which include both – mental as well as physical benefits. Here is a list of the benefits of regular blood donation:

1. Chances Of Heart Diseases Are Reduced:

This is probably one of the biggest advantages of blood donation. Studies have found that a person who is a regular blood donor is at a lower risk of heart diseases as compared to a person who has not donated blood in his/her lifetime.

2. Risk Of Cancer Is Reduced:

Studies suggest that cancer is caused by free-radical damage in a person’s body. This is also the reason for ageing. If you donate blood on a regular basis, the chances of getting cancer are reduced. You may be at a lower risk of getting lung, liver, throat, or colon cancer.

3. Helps You Burn Calories:

As per a study conducted by the University of California, San Diego, blood donation can remove as much as 650 calories from the body if one pint of blood is drawn out. However, this should in no manner be included in a plan where you are looking to lose weight. This is just a fun-fact for regular and new donors.

4. Free Blood Screening:

Your blood is screened for various diseases before you can donate it to a blood bank. The blood is analysed for the presence of Hepatitis B, HIV, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, etc. Regular screening will help in early detection if you are suffering from any such conditions. 

5. The Feeling Of Pride And Happiness:

As mentioned earlier, you can save at least three lives by donating blood. This gesture is so awesome that you are bound to feel good for saving not one, but the life of multiple people. Blood donation can fill you with a sense of pride as well. The feel-good factor is very high after a successful blood donation.

Disadvantages of Blood Donation:

While there are numerous major health benefits to donating blood, a donor may experience some minor disadvantages. Here is a list of such temporary disadvantages of blood donation. Note that only a few people may experience these conditions and one should not deter from donating blood due to these:

Bleeding And Bruising At The Site Of A Needle Prick:

This may be caused by a medical person who may have less experience on the subject.

Dizziness, Nausea, And Lightheadedness:

As mentioned earlier, blood donation may lead to lower blood pressure. The conditions caused by low blood pressure are nausea, lightheadedness, and dizziness.

Pain

Some people may experience pain at the site from where the blood was drawn.

Weakness

This is a sign of low blood pressure that is common after blood donation.

What To Avoid Before Blood Donation?:

Here is a list of what to avoid before donating blood. The following things may mix with blood and remain in the body for a long time. You would not want to donate blood that contains the following things:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Fats from high-fat foods
  3. Nicotine from smoking

What To Eat And Drink After Donating Blood:

Some people may not know what to drink after blood donation. In this section, you will understand what to eat and drink after giving blood. These things will help in avoiding the minor side effects of blood donation and you can regain strength in no time.

1. Drink Plenty Of Water: 

Water helps in controlling the blood pressure that can drop after you have donated blood.

2. Eat Iron-rich Foods: 

These will help restore the iron levels in your body. Foods like chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, green peas, meat, cashews and almonds, sunflower seeds, wholemeal bread, brown rice, spinach, fish, apricots, etc. are rich in iron.

3. Eat Food Rich In Vitamin C: 

These will help absorb iron better in your body. Green leafy vegetables, tomato, oranges, lemon, kiwi, broccoli, capsicums, etc. are rich in Vitamin C.

Also, read: Healthy Food Tips To Follow During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Are There Any Side Effects Of Donating Blood?

As mentioned earlier, there are minor side effects of giving blood the next day. It is not necessary that every donor experiences these side effects. Here is a list of side effects of blood donation:

  1. Dizziness
  2. Weakness
  3. Light-headedness
  4. Nausea
  5. Bleeding
  6. Bruising
  7. Pain

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions on blood donation. In case of specific queries, you can get in touch with a blood bank or your regular physician.

Is there a minimum age and weight requirement for donating blood?

Yes, as per the National Blood Transfusion Council of India, ideally a person should be between 18 and 65 years of age. The body weight should be more than 45 kgs and haemoglobin levels should be more than 12.5 gms/hundred ml. The donor should have ideal parameters related to health conditions.

How much blood will be drawn if I donate blood?

Usually, 500ml of blood is drawn for a full blood donation. However, if you are donating a specific product of blood like plasma or platelets then the amount of blood taken will depend upon your age and physical dimensions.

How much time does it take for blood donation?

Depending upon the purpose of donation (full donation or blood product), the time taken will be 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Is blood donation painful?

No, usually you will not feel high levels of pain. It is a simple prick of the needle that will hurt for a little while at the time of insertion. You won’t even feel anything after a few minutes or at the time of removing the needle. The blood donation process is mostly pain-free.

I am on regular medication for controlling my blood pressure. Can I become a blood donor?

Probably yes, because most over-the-counter medications do not meddle with blood donation. However, it is a good idea to speak to your physician before donating blood.

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