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Can You Drink Coffee Before Donating Blood?

author image Maura Banar
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.
Can You Drink Coffee Before Donating Blood?
A single blood donation can help as many as three people. Photo Credit Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

The American Red Cross explains that a single pint of donated blood can help as many as three individuals in a health crisis. The need for donated blood is generally continuous and increases in the event of a natural disaster. Over 38,000 donations are needed every day to keep up with demand, and organizations such as the Red Cross are at the center of collecting and distributing donated blood throughout the country. Prior to a blood donation, you need to meet specific requirements and answer pertinent questions regarding your health. Certain dietary habits prior to donation are encouraged, too, since what goes into your body likely will end up in your blood donation.

The Effects of Coffee on Your Blood

Insulin sensitivity, the extent to which your body reacts to the hormone insulin, appears to fluctuate with coffee consumption. A study published in "Diabetes Care" in December 2004 found that high consumption of coffee was associated with higher concentrations of fasting insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas that is used to process glucose in the blood. High levels of this hormone indicate increased resistance to its effects. This means that people who consume significant amounts of coffee regularly may have increased concentrations of glucose in their blood. More research is needed to reveal the implications of this effect.

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Food and Beverage Recommendations for Blood Donors

The American Red Cross provides several recommendations for a successful blood donation. Being adequately hydrated is a primary goal if you are planning on donating blood. Blood is made largely of water, and even a small blood donation reduces your blood volume by 8 to 10 percent. Drinking plenty of water, milk and juice can help you replace lost fluid faster. Northridge Hospital Medical Center explains that caffeinated beverages should be avoided before donating blood. Caffeine acts as a mild diuretic that can cause increased fluid loss and can contribute to a quicker onset of dehydration.

Side Effects Often Experienced During and After Donating Blood

For most people, blood donation is a seamless, easy process with no side effects. Some individuals however, may experience symptoms such as dizziness or fatigue. Relaxing during and after your donation can help relieve these symptoms as your body restores the blood you have donated. If you feel anxiety combined with dizziness, this can be a sign of mild dehydration. The American Red Cross recommends that you emphasize fluid intake for the day or two after blood donation. Caffeinated beverages like coffee can make anxiety and dehydration worse and should be consumed in limited quantities or avoided.

What to Consider if You Want to Donate Blood

Although drinking coffee before donating blood doesn't appear to have a significant or dangerous effect on the donation, it can affect your recovery. Noncaffeinated fluids like water help to increase the volume of your blood without causing water loss that can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of mild dehydration include fatigue, mouth dryness and decreased frequency of urination. If you experience these symptoms after donating blood, MedlinePlus suggests that you rehydrate using electrolyte replacement beverages. If possible, bring a bottle of electrolyte replacement beverage with you to drink after your blood donation.

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