Surprising health benefits of donating blood
The requirement of blood donation has no end to it. Every year the country requires more than 5 crore units of blood. Blood donation is considered a noble cause. But donating blood is not only good for the receiver; it is also equally beneficial for the donor. One blood donation can save up to three lives, and at the same time offer health benefits to the donor as well. These advantages innately benefit the body and also improves immunity.
Here are some surprising health benefits of donating blood:
Boosts the immune system: Donating blood helps to improve the immunity of the body by rejuvenating the entire system. With every blood donation, the red blood cells can recycle themselves, promoting the production of newer, healthier red blood cells. The way this happens is – while donating blood, the body has less oxygen and the bone marrow sends the signals to pump the generation of new blood cells. Also, donating blood is more like a mini-checkup which helps in detecting any potential problem in time. A donor undergoes multiple screenings and tests, which help to provide insights into the blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin, hepatitis, cardiovascular health, HIV, etc. This helps to gauge general health and maintain good immunity. Good immunity is especially useful to fight in such vulnerable times such as COVID-19.
Reduces iron stores: Donating blood also helps the body to get rid of excessive iron levels, which can be a potential cause of hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a health problem that is caused due to the overload of iron and is one of the most common genetic diseases today. The body generally stores iron in the muscles and other tissues, unless it is lost through menstruation or via donating blood. If not lost, this storage accumulates toxic levels in the body, causing problems. Excessive levels of iron in the body can increase the chances of a heart attack. The typical value of the iron level is less than 80 mg/L (for women) and less than 90 mg/L (for men). For all those who have above 100mg/L iron levels, donating blood thrice a year is recommended.
Reduces risk of cancer: The process of drawing out blood which is also referred to as phlebotomy is a great iron-balancing method. This process helps to lower the risk of cancer and mortality. Studies have found a good connection between decreasing cancer risk and donating blood. The types of cancers that be prevented from blood donation include colon, liver, lung, esophagus, and stomach. Donating blood reduces the inflammation in the body and also increases antioxidant capacity.
Improves liver health: Even though donating blood benefits the entire body, it particularly has a positive impact on liver health. Recently, there has been a considerable rise in non-alcoholic fatty liver issues, which has been linked to excessive levels of iron. Also, Hepatitis C and other liver diseases and infections are linked to blood impurity. Though there are several other contributing factors, yet donating blood can significantly help remove iron stores and avoid the build-up of extra tissues in the liver.
Helps lose weight: Another very important benefit of blood donation is the fact that it helps in the burning of fat and losing weight. A single blood donation can help to shed almost 650 calories, which is equivalent to jumping rope for 50 minutes. Each time blood is donated, the body takes this much calorie effort to replenish itself with blood. This is the reason, why a regular donor is asked to donate only once in 56 days or so. Moreover, it also helps to reduce the level of cholesterol in the body and contain the artery-clogging accumulation of fatty acids.
Lowers chances of a heart attack: Donating blood is proven to have a very good effect on the cardiovascular health of a person. According to studies, a one-time donation can reduce the risk of heart attack by 88 percent. When blood is given the iron levels in the body are balanced. If the iron in the body accumulates beyond necessary margins, it tends to constrict the blood vessels and increase the chances of blockage and thereby, heart attack. Hence, depleting the body of the excessive levels of iron provides more room for the blood vessels to operate.
Enhances mental well-being: Even though there are multiple physical benefits of donating blood, but its impact on the mental well-being of the donor is inarguably the most powerful. Donation of blood ensures the donor is helping a receipt in dire need, which imbibes a sense of community-connect, giving and pride in the donor. It helps to relieve stress and focus on the larger, more purposeful aspects in life. It is equivalent to volunteering and this altruistic gesture has major psychological benefits. The activity is also shown to have positive effects on happiness and reduces the overall risk of depression and loneliness, especially in people above 55 years of age.
Overall, donating blood is beneficial for both the recipient and the donor. Given in such critical times, as imposed by the global pandemic, donating blood will help improve health and immunity, while also aid in saving lives.