Eating a meal that is high in iron and calories, as well as staying hydrated, before you donate blood are crucial steps towards having a positive donation experience.
I often hear donors say, “Last time I donated blood, I felt out of it for the rest of the day and very sleepy. It wasn’t a pleasant time for me.” Usually, I’ll follow up their statement by asking them if they ate a good meal and stayed hydrated before coming in. You’d be surprised how many people try to donate blood or think they can donate blood without much physical preparation!
For myself, when I am donating blood, I make it a point to drink at least a full bottle of water about forty-five minutes before I come in to donate. People often know and hear that they should eat before they come in, but why is it important to consider hydration?
When it comes to the topic of donating blood, let’s just face it, it isn’t always the most physically pleasant experience. However, you can definitely take steps towards making it easier on your body, like staying hydrated.
Staying Hydrated While Donating Blood
Staying hydrated is crucial to not only your physical performance throughout the day, but your mental well-being too. If you really want to go the extra mile, try to stay hydrated through water only. Soda and caffeinated beverages can actually make you more dehydrated and aren’t exactly nutritious for you either.
Here is an excerpt from an article posted on U.S. News’ Health and Wellness section, written by Yuri Elkaim. If you aren’t sure how much water you should drink each day, here is a great starting point:
The basic equation for determining this is by dividing your body weight in half. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you would need 100 ounces of water per day, if you’re not doing anything strenuous. If you’re working out, hiking, at a high altitude, or outdoors a great deal, you’re going to need to add to those 100 ounces.
When it comes to donating blood and staying hydrated, there is great importance. This is due to the fact that your body’s functions revolve around an enormous number of cellular communications that happen, requiring things like potassium, sodium and chloride. As the day goes on, we lose hydration through sweat and urination. It is essential to replace lost hydration if you want to keep your body operating at its best.
One of the biggest components of a whole blood donation (as well as the blood in our bodies) is plasma. Plasma is made up almost entirely of water. When a blood donor donates a whole blood donation, they are essentially donating about a pint. The body immediately begins to replace the fluid portion lost after you donate. Essentially, all the hydration in your body will go towards replacing and building back up what the phlebotomist just took out. The reason you must wait 56 days between donations is because your body needs time to create additional platelets, red cells, and other assorted proteins and nutrients that make up your blood.
Obviously, when you keep up on how well you are hydrated not only will you have a better blood donation experience, but you can also positively increase good health overall!