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What to Eat Before and After Donating Blood

Jul 26 2022
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If you’ve never donated blood before, you may have lots of questions. Donating blood is a simple way you can make a big difference in someone’s life. However, an important part of getting ready to donate blood is understanding what you should eat before and after giving blood. Also, what you should avoid eating, too.

What to eat before donating blood

Before you head in to donate, you’ll want to make sure your body is in peak physical condition. If you’re low on hemoglobin you won’t be able to donate. A good night’s sleep is important. You’ll also want to drink plenty of fluids the morning of your donation.

Here are some practical tips on what to eat before giving blood:

Iron

When you donate blood, your body loses red blood cells and iron. We recommend eating iron-rich foods prior to your appointment.

These include foods such as:

  • Beef, pork and poultry
  • Beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • Seafood (oysters, clams and mussels)
  • Iron-fortified breakfast cereal
  • Iron-fortified oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Green leafy vegetables (kale and spinach)

Vitamin C

You should eat foods rich in vitamin C before you donate blood. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps your body to fight against any infections. It also helps you to recover from wounds.

Examples of food rich in vitamin C are:

  • Fruit: oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, kiwis, papayas, raspberries, blueberries
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, bell peppers

Water

You already know that drinking lots of water is good for your health. It’s also a great idea to drink plenty of it before donating blood. In fact, the American Red Cross recommends donors drink an extra 16 ounces of water. You should also drink another eight ounces after you donate.

This is because drinking before donating can help reduce feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness. Then, drinking after donating helps to replenish fluid loss from the donation process.

Food to avoid before donating blood

Some foods can decrease iron in your body. Don’t eat fatty, fried or greasy food. Food that’s too high in fat, cholesterol or sugar can slow digestion. It can also make you feel sluggish after donating. Worst of all, these foods can affect your blood test results, which may mean you cannot donate blood.

Also, don’t consume caffeine before donating blood. This includes coffee, tea and soda. Caffeine can affect your body’s ability to absorb iron. Also, avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours before donating blood. Alcohol thins the blood and can cause dehydration. This can lead to fainting or other complications during the donation process.

Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medicines cause internal bleeding and can affect how your body makes platelets. As a result, the American Red Cross recommends avoiding them for 48 hours before donating.

What to eat after giving blood

After donating blood, it’s crucial to restore the fluid and minerals you’ve lost. Some people report feeling cold or dizzy after donating blood. Drinking extra fluids can help prevent these symptoms.

The American Red Cross recommends donors drink an extra four cups of nonalcoholic fluids. In some donation centers, you’ll be given sugary snacks after donating blood. Why eat sugar after giving blood? Your body needs sugar to replace what was lost during the donation.

It’s important that you eat something within two hours. Foods high in sugar are good because they are easily digested. They also provide fast energy for the body.

Don’t drink caffeine before or immediately after you donate blood. Also, and avoid alcohol for the next 24 hours.

The American Red Cross has declared the worst blood shortage in more than a decade. The people in your community need your blood donation right now. You can find an ARC blood drive near you.

Also, learn about the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.


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