It turns out donating your plasma isn’t just helpful to others, it’s also good for your own health! As one of the few examples of instant karma – the good kind – the practise has heart-boosting, cholesterol-lowering benefits. Here’s why you’ll want to roll up your sleeve today.
But what is plasma? Well, it’s the liquid component of your blood, making up about 55% of your total blood volume. It is a yellowish, straw-coloured fluid that carries various substances throughout your body, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Plasma also contains essential proteins, electrolytes, hormones, waste products, and antibodies.
Plasma has several critical functions in the body, including:
- Transportation: It carries red and white blood cells, platelets, nutrients, hormones, and waste products throughout the circulatory system.
- Immune Response: Plasma contains antibodies and other immune system proteins that help defend against infections and diseases.
- Blood Clotting: Clotting factors in plasma assist in stopping bleeding when you are injured.
- Regulation: Electrolytes in plasma help maintain the body's pH balance and control fluid levels.
Reduces Stroke Risk
Donating plasma may offer an unexpected advantage: a reduced risk of stroke. Studies have suggested that regular blood and plasma donation can help lower blood viscosity, making it less likely for blood clots to form. Reduced blood viscosity can lead to better blood flow, which, in turn, lowers the risk of stroke—a significant benefit for your health. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Australia, with 56,000 new and recurrent strokes each year, according to the Stroke Foundation. The lifetime risk of having a stroke for Australians over the age of 55 is estimated to be one in four, so anything we can do to lower our risk for the condition is worthwhile – of course, your first port of call should be to limit added sugar and processed foods, along with prioritising whole foods and regular exercise. Stroke can cause significant physical and cognitive disabilities, depending on its severity and the area of the brain affected. These disabilities can impact a person's ability to move, communicate, and perform daily activities independently – in some cases, strokes can be fatal.
Donating plasma can contribute to a decrease in your cholesterol levels, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as "bad" cholesterol. Lower LDL levels are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. The process of donating plasma helps remove excess lipids from your bloodstream, promoting a healthier lipid profile.
Reduces Carcinogenic "Forever Chemicals”
"Forever chemicals" is a term used for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known for their environmental persistence and potential health risks. Recent studies have indicated that regular plasma donation can help reduce the concentration of PFAS in the body. Since PFAS accumulate over time (and we're exposed to them in everything from takeaway containers to raincoats and water) donating plasma can assist in their removal, potentially mitigating health concerns, like the development of cancer, associated with these substances.
Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of donating plasma is the direct impact it has on the lives of those in need. Plasma is a critical component in the production of life-saving therapies for patients with various medical conditions, including immune disorders, bleeding disorders, and burn victims. Your donation can make a world of difference to someone in a health crisis.
How to Get Started
If you're considering donating plasma, here are a few steps to begin your journey of giving and receiving instant karma:
- Find a Donor Centre: Locate a reputable plasma donation centre near you. Many centres offer compensation for your time and effort.
- Check Eligibility: Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria set by the donation centre, which may include age, weight, and health status.
- Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished: Before your donation, drink plenty of fluids and have a balanced meal to help make the process smoother and more comfortable.
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