Healthy eating tips for women to ensure healthy donation of blood | Health

Farma Darya

Donating blood is a selfless gesture that can save lives but is nonetheless a frightening prospect and despite decades of research and public awareness campaigns, the gift of life from a healthy person to someone who is sick or disabled remains a mystery. Contrary to the myth that women are not allowed to donate blood, the fact lies that women are completely capable of donating blood but only when they have a low haemoglobin level or are anaemic are they unable to do so, which is also true for guys. 

A blood donor must have 12.5 grammes of haemoglobin per decilitre (125 grammes per litre) to give blood and anything less than that is deemed ineligible. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Clinical Dietician Anam Golandaz from Masina hospital, shared, “Well-nourished women are better able to provide for themselves, their children and their families. Well-nourished mothers are more likely to have infants with healthy birth weights and such children are less likely to ever suffer from malnutrition. Blood is an especially constituted fluid that supplies important components around our body parts such as oxygen, nutrients, and hormones so they can keep working . It also helps the body in removing waste from the cells, as it carries carbon dioxide and other waste materials to the lungs, kidneys and digestive system to be removed from the body. Also iron works to boost the production of haemoglobin, which helps to form more red blood cells.”

She advised, “Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide antioxidants, which are good for your health in general including your blood health too. So follow a healthy well balanced diet. The reason to donate blood is simple as it helps save lives. In fact, every two seconds daily, someone needs blood. Since blood cannot be manufactured outside, we should create awareness for blood donation. The American Red Cross recommend avoiding heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for at least the rest of the day after donating blood and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person should avoid playing sports or taking part in strenuous activity for 48 hours.”

Rising number of people falling prey to early age depression, mental illness, changed lifestyle disorders like anaemia, obesity, sleep disorders have erupted as a public health concern after the pandemic. Anaemia on one hand seems to be a major cause of concern which has resulted in lower number of blood donors and the alarming rate at which new diseases and infections have risen, a shortage of blood donors or an epidemic is on the edge of an outburst causing shortage in the units of blood. 

According to NFHS III, over 55% women are anaemic within the age group of 15 – 49 years. According to NFHS 4, a quarter of women of reproductive age in India are undernourished, with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 kg/m. According to the NFHS –V (2019 2021), the Anaemia prevalence in children between 6 to 59 months is around 67% that in adolescent girls is 59%, in case of adolescent boys between the age group of 15-19 years is 31%. The rate of anaemia in non-pregnant women is 57%.

Talking about ensuring healthy blood donation amongst women, Dr Manjusha Agarwal, Senior Consultant-Internal Medicine at Global Hospital in Mumbai’s Parel, revealed, “Blood donation can see a major impact through nourishment, awareness on the intake of micro-nutrients and reducing myths on blood donation. Nourishment in women especially in mothers must be intervened with access to nutritious food. Awareness on foods with added micro-nutrients must be provided to young mothers especially those who are working at the blue collared positions. An integrated child and mother development scheme must be run for blue collared working women with a general awareness on blood donation. Incorporating dietary supplements with micro-nutrients like A, B, D, E in processed food and an awareness should be created around them.”

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