You’ve probably seen them – those stations set up in malls, on college campuses and at public fairs dedicated to informing people about blood donation.
I myself hate needles so I can totally understand why someone might cringe at the very thought of having a needle jabbed in their arm and watching their own blood flow into a bag.
And then there’s the issue of having to deal with dizziness and/or nausea for a little while after you’re done donating.
After all, you need your blood, and without it you’ll feel weak.
But someone once said something to me that put things into perspective:
“Your blood will regenerate. You’ll be fine. A few weeks after you’ve given blood, you’ll probably be so caught up in your life that you won’t even remember having donated blood.”
But the people whose lives were saved by your donation? That’s something they will never forget.
1. Donating blood balances the iron levels in your body.
Dr. Mercola says this is the most important benefit that one receives from donating their own blood.
For each unit of blood that you donate, you lose one-quarter of a gram of iron. Although it sounds like a bad thing, most people don’t realize that having too much iron is actually a much more common issue than having too little, and its effects are much more harmful.
Lower iron levels are associated with a decreased risk of heart attacks, for instance.
2. It also improves your blood flow.
There are many things we all do on a regular basis that make our blood thicker and hinder its flow.
Eating lots of sugar is one of them, as are being around tons of radio frequencies and being anxious or stressed.
But repeatedly donating your blood makes it thinner and allows it to flow better. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, blood donors are a stunning 88% less likely to suffer from a heart attack as a result. Hope the same for stroke but our fucking failures of stroke associations won't deign to answer this question.
3. Free medical checkup, anyone?
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with looking to save a buck. Besides, healthcare is expensive for even those of us who have money. But every time you donate blood, you get a free mini-physical to check your blood pressure and pulse as well as to see if you have any infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis or syphilis.
So if you’ve been putting off going to the doctor for a while and feel like doing something positive, donating blood could be for you.
This is how I found I had dangerously high blood pressure
4. You’ll live longer.
People who volunteer altruistically tend to live longer than those who don’t.
And that’s not all. Dr. Phillip DeChristopher tells TIME:
“Blood donors seem not to be hospitalized so often and if they are, they have shorter lengths of stay. And they’re less likely to get heart attacks, strokes and cancers.”