An act such as donating blood is nothing short of noble, and the people who do so can be proud of having potentially saved up to three human lives. And that is just from donating a single time! According to the American Red Cross about 10% of the Americans suitable for donating blood actually do it on a yearly basis!
Their reasons? The two most common are a fear of needles or they simply haven’t considered the idea.
Well, I’m sure most of them would change their minds when they hear that blood donation can not only help the one to whom it is donated but the donator himself/herself!
4 Benefits of Blood Donation
As astonishing as it sounds, every two seconds, there is someone in the US who needs blood. In fact, as many as 41.000 blood donations are needed daily. So, if you want to do something to give back to society, this is a perfect choice.
It also makes you special, since blood cannot be created in labs or factories. It a rewarding act by itself, yet ironically, a small number of people know about the plus sides.
1. There’s A Mini Physical For You!
As with most medical procedures, before you donate blood you will be tested for 13 diseases that are infectious, among which: syphilis, HIV, West Nile Virus, etc. You will also have your pulse, blood pressure, hemoglobin and temperature checked.
If this is not a replacement for medical care, you might find out something about yourself that you didn’t know.
2. Balances the Iron Level
This is probably even the most important reason. And while the fact that you lose about a ¼ gram of iron with each unit of blood you are generous enough to donate.
It may be scary to think of losing to much iron since it can lead to lower immunity and fatigue, but the case of having too much iron is even more terrifying. So, you might want to get rid of some for a generally healthier picture.
A clear example of this is that women during menstruation have far fewer chance of getting acute myocardial infarction. And no, this isn’t thanks to hormones like it was previously believed, but rather decreased levels of iron. According to the conducted research, 88% of blood donors, much like the menstruating women, have a lower heart attack risk.
What’s more, the American Journal of Public Health and the study that came out in April 2013, had discovered that statin drugs which lowered cholesterol served to improve circulatory consequences by at least a little bit also countered the pro-inflammatory properties which excess iron can bring.
However, this did not also mean that the lipid status improved. Still, it was determined that reduction of iron could mean a more secure and cheaper substitute to statin drugs. And here’s where your donation comes in. Simple right?
3. A Longer Life
But let’s not make something so humane all about you. It has been evidenced that those individuals who donate their ‘red life matter’ for the sake of helping others instead of just themselves seem to have a longer life span.
As much as for years, to be precise. So it pays to be altruistic and help your fellow human being, no?
4. Improves Blood Flow
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of factors that can cause hypercoagulation. In simpler terms, it can make give it thickness and a slower flow. This, of course, prevents oxygen and as such, causes inflammation, and then there are also the blood clots. And no one wants that.
What are some of those many factors, you might ask? There are radio frequencies, emotional stress, smoking, high uric acid, toxic electromagnetic forces and high cholesterol.
As an ideal example, some early forms (and, more frighteningly, recent ones) of birth control pills were infamous for causing heart attacks for the women who took them. The reasons are that artificial progesterones and estrogens contribute to an increased viscidness (thickness) of the blood.
That’s why blood donations are so useful. Repeated donating can help your blood flow run more smoothly, which can ultimately lead to a reduction in blocked arteries.
So says the director of the Loyola University Health System blood bank, Phillip DeChristopher, M.D., Ph.D. He also mentioned that those who regularly donate their blood also have shorter hospital stays, in fact, they go much more rarely, to begin with!
Why Is Excess Iron So Bad? Here’s Some More Information
It’s not like we can do without iron. It’s crucial for our existence in general as it has many uses. It regulates the growth of cells and plays a vital role in oxygen transportation throughout the body. Without oxygen, your cells have no choice but to deteriorate.
One of the iron’s main jobs is to produce the protein found in red blood cells (and in whose very core is iron), hemoglobin.
But here’s the thing: since our bodies’ capacity to excrete iron is very limited, the result is that your heart, pancreas, and liver end up being its unwilling hosts.
It builds up in those organs and here’s where the trouble starts. It can cause many health problems, some of which are: bacterial and viral infections, liver cancer, type one diabetes, cirrhosis, cardiac arrhythmias, Alzheimer’s disease.
While it may not seem like it, problems with iron overdose can lead to even death. In less severe cases, the damaged pancreatic islet cells may trigger “bronze” diabetes, which requires insulin.
It is especially useful to donate about a pint of blood a year for all those who have beta-thalassemia.
Additionally, doctors strongly recommend that people should screen for elevated ferritin levels once a year. In this way, they will avoid the surplus of iron would be a thousand times easier than having to treat it.
Hemochromatosis has earned its dreadful place as one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. In most cases, it is the C282Y gene mutation which is the main culprit for it.
But don’t worry, it takes not one but two copies (one inherited from your mother, the other from your father) for the disease to potentially show its ugly face. And even then, not everyone would necessarily become ill.
If you have just one mutation, you will not get sick. However, you will absorb a larger bit of the iron than someone else would. Something like this would have actually represented more of a good thing back when they weren’t getting enough iron in their diets.
So, Have You Ever Considered Having a Ferritin Screen?
You should. It is quite easy, and all it takes is a specific type of blood test they call serum ferritin test. And if you are like everyone who wishes to remain healthy then this is undeniably something you should do on a regular basis.
If your ferritin levels are low, it can only signal one thing: your iron is low as well, since the ferritin carrier molecules store the iron. This test measures those exact molecules. But what would a healthy range of serum ferritin be?
It would be somewhere between 20 and 80 ng/mg. As such, below 20 means you are lacking, and over 80 is too much. Enough said. Ideally, it would be from about 40-60 ng/mg. If your levels show over 300, then that is particularly bad, since, if kept for a longer period, would cause damage to anyone’s health.
The Four Factors That Increase the Risk of Iron Overload
Those who are hemochromatic are hardly the only ones who are in danger of accumulating more iron than necessary. We already mentioned that women in their premenopausal period are far less likely to suffer from spare quantities of iron.
But when it comes to the postmenopausal women as well as men, it’s a whole different matter. They obviously don’t have a monthly blood loss (bleeding’s not always a bad thing since in this case, it can help rid you of too much iron).
Another way to upsurge the intake of iron from your daily diet, if by consuming too much alcohol on a regular basis. A simple and common example is if you drink wine with your steak. There are other factors, four in total, which may cause an increase in your iron levels. They are as follows:
- Under number one we have cooking in pans and pots made out of iron. This, especially if it concerns acidic food, will, without a doubt, increase your iron.
- Consuming white bread and cereals which boast with their iron capacities. That’s just it. It is exactly the iron in these products, which is not the organic type, but rather something closer to rust, that does more harm. You’d do far better with the iron contained in meat.
- Additionally, you’d do yourself a favor by choosing to drink water with either an osmosis iron filter or some iron precipitator. Drinking well water gives you much more iron than you need.
- Overdosing on all kinds of minerals, dietary and vitamin supplements, since in most cases they have more than their fair share of iron in them.
So, if you discover you are hemochromatic or have higher iron levels than is indispensable, just donate blood. But if for whatever reason, the center for blood donations is not able to take your blood for donation purposes, you can acquire therapeutic phlebotomy medicaments.
While you’re at it, you might want to be certain to cut back on those supplements, or on ‘fortified’ processed foods for that matter. Don’t forget to avoid cookware made from iron and filter your drinking water as well.
Butwhile you’re at it, you might want to be certain to cut back on those supplements, or on ‘fortified’ processed foods for that matter. Don’t forget to avoid cookware made from iron and filter your drinking water as well.