Blood Donation: Foods to Eat Before and After Donating Blood

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Blood Donation Diet-Overview

Blood donation is a life-saving act that helps patients with serious medical conditions maintain healthy blood levels. Blood donors may experience certain side-effects like: However, these side-effects mostly seen in regular blood donors can be set right if the right type of foods and drinks are consumed before and after donating blood.

What Foods Should I Eat Before Blood Donation?

Eat Iron Rich Foods

Iron depletion is the well-known side-effect of blood donation. Whenever a person donates blood, iron stores are depleted from the body and anemia develops as the number of blood donations increase.

Iron is required for the production of new blood cells and hemoglobin that carries oxygen to the blood. Therefore, it is important to eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet with plenty of iron-rich food sources.

Foods rich in iron include:
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Organ meat such as liver
  • Dark green vegetables- Spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens and kale
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Lentils and beans
Before Blood Donation, Try and Eat Food Items that are Rich in Iron such As Fish and Eggs

Consume Water-Soluble Vitamins

Among the water-soluble vitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies are common. Such a vitamin deficiency can be prevented among frequent blood donors by regular multi-vitamin supplementation. However, ask your doctor before starting with any supplement.

Besides this, blood donors must consume foods rich in vitamin C, in order to boost the iron absorption.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking 500 ml of water before blood donation reduces the risk of a drop in the blood pressure, which can otherwise make you feel dizzy. This is because more than half of the blood is water. Make sure you hydrate yourself before donating blood. Avoid drinking alcohol 24 hours before blood donation as it may lead to dehydration.

Eat a Healthy Snack

Eat a healthy and nutritious snack before blood donation. This will help to keep your blood glucose levels stable. Do not eat foods that are high in fat. This will increase the amount of fat in the blood and such a blood sample cannot be tested for the presence of infections. Hence, such blood samples will be rejected.

What Foods to Avoid Before Blood Donation

Iron Blockers:

Certain food substances and nutrients interact with the absorption of iron. Make sure you do not consume such foods with iron-containing foods. Moreover, maintain a gap of 4 hours between iron-rich foods and anti-iron substances. Foods that reduce the absorption of iron in the body are:
  • Calcium rich foods:
    • Milk
    • Curd
    • Cottage cheese
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Red wine
Individuals should maintain a time gap of minimum 4-6 hours between iron supplements and calcium supplements.

Do not Eat or Drink Anti-iron Food or Food Products before Blood Donation

What Foods Should I Eat After Blood Donation?

Stay Hydrated-Drink Water

Keep drinking sufficient amount of water for the next 24 hours after blood donation to replenish your stores. Do not replace water with caffeinated drinks and aerated beverages.

Eat a Light Snack

After blood donation, relax for a few minutes and eat a light snack. This will give you energy and stabilize your blood glucose level. Make sure the snack is nutritious and rich in iron to refill the lost iron stores.

Do not donate blood on an empty stomach. People usually feel weak after donating blood, doing this on an empty stomach will further make you weak.

Eat a Light Snack after Donating Blood as you may Feel Weak after the Donation

Eat Foods Rich in Folic Acid or Vitamin B9

It is important to replace blood cells lost during blood donation. Your body needs folic acid to produce new red blood cells. After blood donation, eat foods rich in folic acid, so that your body can produce new blood cells quickly.

Foods rich in folic acid include:
  • Dark green vegetables like:
    • Spinach
    • Collard greens
    • Turnip greens
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus
  • Nuts and oilseeds
  • Pulses and lentils
  • Avocado
  • Whole grain cereals
Riboflavin or Vitamin B2:

Along with folic acid, riboflavin is also required by the body to produce red blood cells. This B-complex vitamin converts carbohydrates into energy for the body, so eating riboflavin-rich food makes you feel energetic after blood donation. Foods rich in riboflavin include:
  • Organ meat, for example- liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Nuts and oilseeds
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Lean meat and poultry
  • Eggs
Consume Iron-Rich Foods

Intake of iron-rich foods is important before and after blood donation.

Quick Tips for Blood Donors

Foods and liquids to eat before blood donation
  • Iron-rich foods
  • Plenty of water
  • A light and healthy snack
  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin C-rich foods for better absorption of iron
  • Rest properly before blood donation
What to avoid before blood donation
  • Anti-iron foods
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Foods high in fat content
What to eat and drink after blood donation
  • A light and healthy snack
  • Iron-rich foods
  • Foods rich in riboflavin or vitamin B2
  • Foods containing vitamin B9 or folic acid
  • Plenty of water
What to avoid after blood donation
  • Alcohol
  • Vigorous exercise

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