Tips and health facts about Ramadan
Since you will be fasting for up to 15 hour each day keeping the following points in mind will help you be well prepared.
- Wear light coloured clothing and cooler fabrics where ever possible and decrease layers of clothing.
- Stay out of the sun and opt for cooler areas wherever possible. If you feel hot or dizzy lie down and out a cool/ wet towel over your forehead.
- Listen to your body – Fasting is a greatly beneficial act of spirituality. Do your best to look after yourself with sensible measures while you are fasting, and listen to your body if you are feeling unwell.
- Retire early at night throughout Ramadan to reserve energy for the following day
- Fasting is not akin to starving the body. Fasting does not curb energy for productive work, except towards the end of the fast. A healthy body can usually maintain good metabolic balance with moderate physical activity with tiredness setting-in only in the late hours of the fasting period.
- Exercise moderation in eating Suhoor and try to rest for a couple of hours prior to breaking of fast.
- Organise your schedule to get enough sleep.
- Patient with chronic and complex ailments should have a compete pre-evaluation one month prior to Ramadan fasting to try out any change in medication or dose schedules.
- If you are taking regular medications – confer with your doctor beforehand if fasting is harmless in your condition he/she may advice you to change the timing of the medication to match the timing of the meals.
- If you are to take antibiotics – may be the choice of antibiotics can be changed to enable you to fast without interrupting the efficacy.
- Reduced fluid intake during the fast causes dehydration. The dehydration may become severe as a result of excessive perspiration in hot and humid climates and among individuals who perform hard physical labour. So focus on rehydration during the hours you are allowed to eat.
- Fasting may cause low of blood sugar levels, and lower the systolic blood pressure so try to balance the reduced food intake with rest and reduced physical activity.
Health problems are likely to arise due to inappropriate diet, overeating or insufficient nutrition.
- Avoid processed foods, carbonated drinks and junk foods- e.g. chips, candy, as they are high in fructose, corn syrup, sodium, saturated fats and simple sugars. Consume whole grains, brown rice etc. and other complex carbohydrates in combination with protein especially during Suhoor that will help provide prolonged and sustained energy during the day.
- Know what foods hydrate you – water, fruits (water melon, orange, apple), fresh juices, fresh salads, coconut water. Bananas and dates provide energy, fibre and minerals and vitamins.
- Avoid fried and salty foods.
- Try not to end the fast with a huge meal. This is likely to cause indigestion, heart burn, gastritis as would fried, fatty, spicy foods.
- Drink lots of water – try to sip in 6 glasses between Iftar and bedtime and then 2 glasses at Suhoor.
- Do not over eat.
- Avoid tea, coffee and other drinks that act as diuretics as they add to the dehydration during the period of fasting.
Added health benefits of fasting in Ramadan
- Ideal opportunity to ditch bad habits – Ramadan is an ideal time to assist you to quit vices such as smoking and sugary food. As you abstain from them your body will gradually acclimatise to their absence. It’s also much easier to quit habits when you do so in a group, which should be easy to find during Ramadan.
- Lower cholesterol & Lasting appetite reduction – We all know that weight loss is one of the possible physical outcomes of fasting during Ramadan. It has been found that people observing Ramadan without overindulgence enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood. Low cholesterol increases cardiovascular health, greatly reducing the risk of suffering from heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. What’s more, if you follow a healthy diet after Ramadan, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be easy to maintain.
- Detoxification – By not eating or drinking throughout the day time for a month; your body will have the chance to detoxify and rejuvenate. This also results in improved absorption of nutrients.
Advice for Diabetics
Although Diabetics are exempt, many diabetics would like to fast.
- Fasting Diabetics on medication (oral or insulin) can be at risk of hypoglycemia if the timing and dosage of medication has not been adjusted to match the Ramadan meal timing.
- It is important that the sugar levels have been noted to be stable before the fasting period.
- Diabetics who insist on fasting need to be aware of the associated risks of the fasting experience and techniques to decrease this risk. Patients may be at higher or lower risk for fasting-related complications depending on the number and extent of their risk factors.
- It is advised that diabetics undertake fasting only on approval and after discussion with their doctors.