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Healthy Ramadan: Eat and Live Well

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Fasting during the month of Ramadan can be good to your health if it’s done correctly.

Benefits of fasting during Ramadan include:

  •  Fasting promotes weight loss
  • Rests digestive system
  • Resolves inflammatory diseases and allergies e.g. arthritis and skin conditions such as psoriasis
  • Reduce blood glucose level
  • Reduce cholesterol level
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Increase fat breakdown
  • Fasting can help overcome addictions such as smoking, caffeine etc

Weight loss process

Stage 1- first response of the body to fasting is the breakdown of glucose for a source of energy.

Stage 2- When the store of glucose is exhausted, ketosis begins; this is the breakdown of fats to release energy.

 

Are there any health risks during fasting?

  • Heartburn- the thought of food and smell makes the brain to release more acid in the stomach, causing heartburn. Eating fatty food at night increase the risks of developing heartburn.
  • Poor control of diabetes- if eating excess food.
  • Headache- caused because of dehydration, hunger, poor sleep, and lack of caffeine.
  • Dehydration.
  • Unintentional weight gain.
  • Stress and anxiety- changes in daily routine can cause stress and anxiety, which can be managed by stress management and relaxation techniques.

How to avoid unintentional weight gain

  • Mix 200mls of hot/warm water with lemon- drink it before eating food, maximum 3 times a week as it can cause stomach ulcers.
  • Mix Green tea, ginger and peppermint- drink it 1 hour after food. This will help to increase metabolism and therefore aid weight loss.
  • Calories- remember the calorie content in each meal. The calorie content per day for men should not be more than 2000 and for women 1500.

Iftar

You can eat whatever you want, but follow this golden rule please:

  • stage 1- start with dates
  • stage 2- drink milk/juice
  • stage 3- pray
  • stage 4- eat a plate full of salad/vegetables
  • stage 5- start with your main meal: carbohydrates, proteins, fats etc

Note: by the time you reach stage 5, the stomach is almost 80% full, therefore you won’t eat that much of the high calorie food.

Dates and juices

They are good source of sugars. They are sufficient to bring low blood glucose level to normal level. Dates are considered the best source of quick energy in the form of sugar as they contain many important minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, fibre, vitamin B and Vitamin K. The mineral content of dates is good for red blood cells, bones, teeth and blood clotting.

Dehydration

  • Dehydration can be avoided by drinking water, fluids, tea, milk etc.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
  • On average 6 cups of water plus fruits and vegetables is enough to keep a person well hydrated during Ramadan.

Pharmacist Advice:

  • Any form of physical activity during Ramadan is good and healthy.
  • Walking every day for 10 minutes is very good for the blood circulation.
  • When visiting mosques/magalis- if travelling by car, try to park the car in a nearby location and walk for 10 minutes to your destination. If travelling by bus or train get off one stop before your actual destination.
  • Sahur time- avoid eating carbohydrates if possible, it can cause sleep disturbance and dry mouth in the morning. Recommended food: cereals, milk and fruits.
  • Tea- use brown sugar instead of white sugar, avoid artificial sweeteners as they are associated with kidney/liver dysfunctions and some cancers.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks as they are rich in calories including the diet products.
  • Are you on medication and want to fast? Please book an appointment with your Gp doctor or go to your local pharmacy for more information.

 

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Written by Mariam Jbbar

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