Fitness · Natural Healing

3 benefits to donating blood + tips!

Around holidays and birthdays we struggle to find the perfect gift for our friends and loved ones. What about the perfect gift for strangers? Donating blood helps those who have lost a great deal of blood due to trauma, disease and violence.

Every non-profit, political campaign and charity on the face of the earth seeks monetary donations to support their efforts. With Millennials earning 20 percent less than Baby Boomers did at the same age, it can be difficult to get as involved with humanitarian efforts and social responsibility as they desire through donations.

This is exactly me. I chose to answer the call through blood donation a few times a year.

Me in the hot seat last year.

In addition to the good feeling you get when you help someone out, there are some great benefits for the donor!

1. Did you know donating a pint of blood burns 650 calories?

It’s not a whole slew of calories in a grand scheme of weight loss and management, but it takes some of the guilt out of all that eating you’re encouraged to do before you get stuck. The calories are expended by your circulatory system as your body works to replenish the blood you’ve donated.

Be sure to check out the link above for more information about blood donation and weight loss. Blood donation is not recommended as a weight loss method.

2. Donor centers give you a quick low-down on your vitals and major blood levels.

American Red Cross provides a check of pulse, blood pressure, body temperature and hemoglobin, according to their website. Some others will measure your cholesterol and glucose for you, too! All centers check for infectious diseases before the blood is made available for use.

3. Many local blood centers have incentive programs.

Community Blood Services, as an example, allows donors to enroll in a point accruing program. So the more regularly you donate (because you have to wait several months between donations) the closer you can be to some free gifts and gift cards.

Tips for a successful blood donation:

I’ve donated about a half-dozen times so far and since I’m prone to feeling faint (which is a bit embarassing) each time I tweak my preparation for donation. I’d hate to give it up.

  • Eat about two hours before your appointment.
    • Eat a “healthy” meal in both nutrition and size and give it some time to digest. Make sure you’re full.
    • Do not eat right before, or worse–fast.
  • Drink water before, and after.
    • I’ve seen success with one quarter of my body weight in pounds as ounces in my system.
    • A hydrated body completes the donation quicker.
  • Consider your needle type.
    • Two types of needles are generally available. The standard size needle and the “butterfly” or baby needle.
    • The standard needle is great because it gets your donation to a pint as quickly as possible.
    • The butterfly needle is smaller, thinner, and less obvious that it’s in your arm, which can be helpful psychologically and physically. However, it takes longer for blood to flow.

Go forth and give the gift of life!

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