When you donate blood, you are literally saving lives. The donation process is quick, convenient and causes relatively little pain. Still, removing two pints of blood from your body in a 20-minute period comes with some caveats. This is why the American Red Cross has specific post-donation guidelines. If you decide to ignore the recommendations, you will have an unnecessarily negative blood donation experience.
Your body needs 56 days to replace the two pints of donated blood. Obviously, it won't take the full 56 days to adjust, but it won't take 45 minutes, either. Even if you feel strong after donating, you can't expect your body to safely circulate the blood necessary for a cardiovascular workout a few hours after giving blood. Ignoring this advice can lead to dizziness or even fainting. So relax, and enjoy your good deed with a day of rest.
A full 83 percent of your blood is made of water. This is why the American Red Cross recommends drinking 16 ounces of water before and after the donation process to begin hydrating your body. Failing to properly hydrate can lead to electrolyte imbalances, causing nausea and headaches. Accept the free orange juice provided afterward by the donation center to help your body recover quickly.
Having a healthy meal before donating and a good snack afterward helps your body rebuild lost resources and recovery more quickly. Eating something low-fat, like half a turkey sandwich and some salad, before donating, followed by a granola bar afterward will keep your body energized and prevent head rushes or fainting. Do everyone a favor and eat your complimentary post-donation snack.