When was the last time you donated your blood? Donating blood should always be done to help those in need, that’s the first and most of the times the only motive why everyone volunteers to get their blood taken. However, while the act itself is noble and selfless, there are many benefits of giving blood to the donors. Sounds unbelievable? In fact, the recipients of the blood are clearly not the only ones benefited those who receive it, but also the ones who give it. Here are 15 perks of donating blood other than helping other people in unfortunate situations.
Here are 15 benefits of donating your blood regularly.
1. Stimulates better blood flow
Sometimes, blood may have a high viscosity, causing some resistance that prevents it from flowing well. When it happens continuously, this may pose a serious risk to your health. This condition may damage the lining of the blood vessels. Or worse, this can lead to arterial blockages which result in fatal problems. Fortunately, blood donation may stimulate better blood flow and prevent this condition. This activity, when done repeatedly, may be the reason why blood donors are less likely to experience a heart attack. According to American Journal of Epidemiology, people who regularly donate their blood has 88% less risk to suffer from a heart attack and strokes.
There can be various explanations for why blood donors have better blood flow compared to the rest of the society, such as the healthier lifestyle that they probably adopt. However, all that is certain is that the study proves that regular blood donation helps blood to flow better. Blood donors also don’t get hospitalized very often when compared to other people, and when they are hospitalized, they generally stay in the hospital for a shorter time.
2. Gets regular health check
When you donate blood, the staff won’t just take your blood without any preparations. First, you will need to complete a quick physical check-up to determine if you’re fit to give blood. The medical staff will take your temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and hemoglobin levels. When those measurements are within the accepted standard of blood donation, they will take your blood. However, your blood won’t just go into transfusion system without being checked further. After it is collected, it will get sent to a lab where around 13 different types of tests are performed on it to check whether it may transfer infectious diseases, like HIV. If the outcome is good, your blood will be distributed to the people in need. However, if it comes up with any positive results for any infectious diseases, you will get notifications.
So, when you donate your blood regularly, you will always have an updated status of whether you are exposed to any infectious and dangerous diseases. This should not replace your regular annual physical check-up and blood tests, but if you have no access to those, donating blood can be a cheaper (or rather, free) method to know if you’re healthy.
3. Regulates blood regeneration
Your body regularly and constantly regenerates new blood cells. However, the process doesn’t take place in the same place between a person who regularly gives blood and another person who doesn’t. For those who are regular blood donors, the regeneration of red blood cells will take place 48 hours after the donation. During this time, new blood cells will be produced to replace the volume that was lost. The new blood cells will be completely formed 4-8 weeks after the donation. The fresh blood volume of blood will support the body function and make the donors look healthier and fresher.
4. Maintains a balanced iron level
If you are an adult, you should have around 5 grams of iron in your body to be considered healthy. Most of the iron is located in your red blood cells, carrying oxygen to all your body parts, but it is also found in the bone marrow. Having too little of iron in your body may lead to dangerous iron deficiency effects, including anemia. However, having too much iron in your blood can also be damaging to your blood vessels.
Donating blood regularly will regulate the iron levels. When you donate your blood, around a fourth of a gram of iron will get out of your system. This disappearing iron will be quickly replenished as you eat during the weeks after you donate your blood. According to the statistics, regulating your iron levels this way is beneficial over the long run. This will prevent danger caused by too much iron on your blood vessels and reduce the risk of diseases that are associated with blockage and other blood vessels abnormalities, including stroke and heart attack.
However, if you suffer from anemia, you should not give your blood because the loss of iron can make your condition worse. If you still want to do it, taking iron supplement may be helpful.
5. Promotes longevity
Maybe the best part of giving blood is that it may even lead to a longer life. Actually, doing good things for other people is one of the ways to lead a longer life. According to a study that was published in Health Psychology, people who liked volunteering for selfless or altruistic reasons had a significantly lowered risk of death up to four years later when compared to others who did volunteering work for more selfish reasons. Donating blood is one of the altruistic acts anybody could do without even involving money. A single donation can even help three people. In turn, your act of saving lives will save your own life too over the long run.
6. Reduces the oxidative stress on the blood vessels.
Blood viscosity or the condition where your blood is unusually thicker than it should be is actually a unifying factor for many risks of cardiovascular problems. When your blood is thick and sticky, it results in more friction to your blood vessels. This friction may create damage to the cell lining of your arteries. Since regular blood donation reduces blood viscosity and helps blood flow better, it also reduces the risk of artery damage. The viscosity may also be caused by higher iron level than usual, which will cause an increase in the oxidative stress that can harm your cardiovascular system. Donating blood regularly will maintain the healthy cardiovascular system and reduce arterial damage.
7. Prevents cancer
Regulating the levels of iron in your body can also give you a better defense against cancer. Once again, this benefit is due to the reduction of iron stores in your body. According to studies, iron has been suspected as a mineral that can increase the damage caused by free radicals in your body. Free radical damage leads to cancer and aging, among other problems. A study that was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute followed 1.200 people over the course of four and a half year. These people were split into two groups: one regularly reduced their iron stores by donating their blood twice a year, while the other group did nothing to change their iron levels. At the end of the study, researchers observed that the regular blood donors had lower risks of cancer and mortality, along with their lower levels of iron. According to Miller-Keystone Blood Center, these reduced risks caused by the reduction of iron which releases oxidative stress in the bloodstream.
8. Burns significant calories
According to the researchers at the University of California, San Diego, people who donate their blood burns about 650 calories for each pint of blood. This is why a regular donor who doesn’t skip their blood giving schedule may lose some weight. While the effect can be significant, this should not be considered as a method to lose weight by anybody because this can be dangerous when abused. Typically, you should even weigh at least 55 kg if you want to give blood.
9. Reduces heart attack risks
According to multiple studies, regular blood donation may significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks, even by up to 1/3 times in men. This is due to the loss of iron that happens when we donate blood. Iron is needed to bind and carry oxygen in the body. However, the accumulation of iron in the body may cause coronary heart problems.
Accumulated iron will increase free radicals that may oxidize cholesterol in the body. Oxidized cholesterol is dangerous because it can result in a buildup along the walls of the blood vessels. This will lead to atherosclerosis, which is the main cause of heart disease.
Donating your blood regularly regulates the iron level, removes excess iron, and accelerates blood regeneration. It also slows down the oxidation of cholesterol and prevents cholesterol-related heart attack.
10. Prevents liver damage
Your liver is an important part of your body. It helps metabolizing nutrients, converts glucose into glycogen, synthesizes plasma, and cleanses your blood from toxins. When you become a regular blood donor, you will remove excess iron from your body that can cause damage to your liver. Because you keep absorbing iron by consuming foods, your iron level can increase quickly and exceed the safe limit. Since the use of iron by your body is limited, the excess iron will be stored in the liver. The iron buildup can lead to the risks of liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and pancreatic damage.
11. Eases hemochromatosis
Hemochromatosis is a type of a hereditary disorder where the body absorbs an excessive amount of iron from food which leads to the excess iron in the body. Because only a limited amount of iron is used for body functions, the excess iron is stored in various body parts, especially liver, but also pancreas, skin, joints, and ovary or testis. When you suffer from this genetic disorder, it is important to regularly reduce the excess iron from your body.
Besides hereditary reasons, hemochromatosis may also happen because of alcoholism or other disorder. By giving your blood regularly, you can help decrease the level of excess iron in your body.
12. Regulates cholesterol levels
By donating your blood regularly, you will also be able to regulate your level of bad cholesterol. Not all types of cholesterol are actual enemies. HDL or high-density lipoprotein is a beneficial cholesterol that can help your blood to flow better. However, you need to worry about the low-density lipoprotein, the bad cholesterol everybody warns you about. An elevated level of this type of cholesterol can clog your blood vessels and block the blood flow. One of the reasons this clogging happen is because of iron oxidation in the lining of your vessels. Since blood donation reduces the amount of iron in your body, it also reduces the risks of clogging in your vessels because of cholesterol buildup.
13. Accelerates wound healing
When you take out some blood to donate, your body will quickly replenish the blood to make an adjustment to the amount that your body needs. Your body will start generating new blood cells to replace the blood that you have lost. This adjustment also happens when you injure your body. When you have wound around the time of the transfusion, the adjustment your body makes will also affect the speed of your wound healing process.
14. Preserves youth
Donating blood regularly will not only make you look more beautiful because you will be able to maintain a healthy weight, but it also delays inflammation that is caused by cholesterol oxidation that can result in serious health problems. When you avoid physical illnesses and your blood cells keep getting replenished and rejuvenated, you will appear younger than your age. Moreover, regularly donating your blood is also good for your mental wellbeing, one of the key components in longevity. This is because stress is one of the biggest factors that trigger premature aging. When you have a healthy mind and you feel good about yourself, you will be able to appear younger.
15. Stimulates positive mood
An act of kindness like donating blood is always good at inducing some positivity into your mind. Human beings will be more fulfilled when they find meaning in what they do. Being a blood donor is an act of selflessness with significant impact for others. This is, in fact, one of the easiest ways for people who strive to contribute to the greater good. For each blood you donate, you can save multiple three lives. You can do this without leaving work and even if you are not financially welled-off. Because of this, blood donation is one of the best ways to channel your desire to create changes and make you feel positive about yourself.