September is Blood Diseases Month under Proclamation No. 1833 signed on July 6, 2009, by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. According to the proclamation, the combined impact of three major blood-related diseases of Leukemia, Anemia, and Bleeding disorders is immense, representing a significant portion of the total deaths due to cancer. It is also stated that blood diseases related to nutrition and environmental conditions continue to increase in prevalence and pose serious effects to the Filipino people. The Department of Health is the lead agency in undertaking activities, in coordination with the Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion and other similar organizations, to increase awareness and understanding of blood-related diseases.
Blood plays an important role in the body. It is composed of plasma, white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Blood circulates through our body and transports nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and removes waste from the cells. The three major blood-related diseases include anemia, hemophilia, and leukemia. Anemia is the most common blood disorder and it is a condition in which the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein inside the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Another common blood disorder is hemophilia, which is a genetic disorder that affects the blood's ability to clot due to low levels of blood-clotting proteins. On the other hand, leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Cancer happens when the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells.
You could help keep your blood on track and healthy by changing your lifestyle especially your diet. Foods rich in iron, vitamin B-12, vitamin B6, vitamin A, and vitamin B-9 are essential for your blood to function well. Iron is an important nutrient that increases the production of red blood cells. Foods rich in iron are red meat, organ meat, beans, cereals, tofu, dark chocolate, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and cabbage. Vitamin B12 keeps nerve tissues healthy and sustains blood cell production. Animal products such as fish, red meat, eggs, and dairy products like milk and cheese naturally contain vitamin B-12. Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the production of hemoglobin, a protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Vitamin B6 is essential in nurturing and maintaining blood health. This can be found in chicken, bananas, tomatoes, whole grains, nuts, green beans, liver, and fish. Vitamin A is essential in the normal development of stem cells into red blood cells. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, tuna fish, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and dark leafy green vegetables such as kale and lettuce. Vitamin B-9 or folic acid helps in protein metabolism and RNA/DNA production and repair. It is vital in making red blood cells. Best sources of folate include nuts, dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce, and edible greens such as asparagus, beans, and bread. Blood diseases could be life-threatening if not treated immediately.
Celebrating Blood Diseases Month in September of every year is only one of the many ways to raise people's awareness and understanding of blood-related diseases. Share the little knowledge you have about it and make it known to the rest of your family and friends. Truly, the value of blood is priceless yet donating a bag of it can surely save a life. Donate now!
PNFP-ZDN Rowence F. Zorilla
1. Proclamation No. 1833, s. 2009
2. September is Blood Diseases Month