Donating blood can be a really scary prospect. The thought of those needles, being in that chair, and of course all that red stuff! is enough to make even the bravest person hesitate. And what’s that about feeling woozy and weak afterwards?
But the truth is that blood donation is a quick, simple procedure that is relatively painless and effortless. Once all the forms have been filled in and your health check completed, the actual process takes between 15 minutes to half an hour at most.
Not a lot of time really when you consider the enormous amount of good you’re doing.
But did you ever consider the good benefits YOU may be reaping from this little procedure?
We asked around and, yes, there is indeed verifiable health benefits attached to donating blood. Some of these may seem a little more psychological, but there are some very definite physical advantages too.
- The unbeatable feeling that you’ve done some good may help you live longer. A psychological study has found that people who do charitable deeds for the benefit of others had a significantly reduced risk of mortality four years later than those who didn’t participate in altruistic volunteer activities. Doing a good deed makes you feel good about yourself and can, in turn, lead to a healthier body. And don’t forget that a single donation can save the lives of up to three people.
- Free health check! Want to know how the old motor’s running? Well, every time you’re donating blood you’re getting a free mini-checkup that will screen you for certain risk factors such as high blood pressure, which can lead to a myriad of health problems if it’s not detected early on. Your iron levels and pulse will also be checked. Plus your blood will be sent away to a lab where it will be tested for 13 or more infectious diseases. If anything comes back positive you will be notified immediately and you can start the appropriate treatment and if the tests come back negative you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you are healthy and disease-free.
- Donating blood burns calories! While this is true it is by no means a substitute for going to the gym, or an excuse to eat that custard Danish! But a one-time donation will help you shed 650 kCal. Bear in mind that you can only donate blood every two to three months, but once again, the psychological benefits of knowing you may have burned a little energy off without needing to hit the treadmill is quite satisfying.
- Better blood flow. If your blood has a high viscosity it will have a resistance to flow and will move along like thick syrup. This could put some stress on your blood vessels as they try to cope with the pressure of flow resistance. Donating blood regularly may help the blood flow easier and in a way that’s less damaging to the lining of the blood vessels and this could result in fewer arterial blockages. It may explain why some medical studies have found that blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack.
- Another heart-health benefit is the balancing of Iron levels. Healthy adults usually have about 5 grams of Iron in their bodies. When you donate blood you lose about a quarter of a gram which will be replenished by the iron-rich food that you eat. But regulating the body’s Iron levels is a good thing because it is beneficial to your body’s blood vessels and diseases related to abnormalities in blood vessels, such as heart attack and stroke. According to studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack. High levels of Iron have also been implicated in cancer through increased iron-catalysed free radical–mediated oxidative stress and lower levels may reduce your risk.
- Free stuff! During or after donation, donors are given free snacks like tea, cookies and juice and sometimes there is even free swag such as t-shirts, stickers and promotional items.
- It’s a nice, quiet, stress-free, slice of time that you will have available to yourself to relax and meditate a bit on the important things in life.
So, all things considered; the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to donating blood. A final motivation may be this: if you are one of those people who are truly terrified of needles (like I am) then donating blood will give you the unique opportunity to confront your fears and overcome them – an extremely empowering and mighty feeling that will boost your ego and confidence levels significantly!