by Dr. Mohammed Ashraf, Specialist Internal Medicine, Thumbay Hospital Day Care, Rolla, Sharjah

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. There is evidence to suggest that fasting can have positive effects on your health. The holy month is often seen as the time to practice self-control, self-discipline, sacrifice and empathy. It is encouraged to maintain these practices even outside fasting hours.  Also, it is advisable to maintain disciplined eating practice during the holy month. Here are certain healthy practices which are to be followed to derive both health and spiritual benefits from Ramadan.

The importance of staying hydrated

It is encouraged to hydrate oneself by drinking enough water. Dehydration results in fatigue, headache, light-headedness etc. It can also result in urinary tract infections and kidney stones. Drink at least 10 glasses of water per day. Avoid excessive intake of beverages like tea and coffee, as they are diuretic and can cause further water loss. Drinking lemonade without sugar or with less sugar reduces the risk of kidney stones. By taking water-rich foods like cucumber and watermelon, you can hydrate your body well.

Eating right

Choose the right foods at suhoor and iftar. Eating complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole wheat and brown rice provides energy and fiber and sustains you throughout the fasting period.  Refined carbohydrates like pizza, pasta, white rice etc. gets digested early, makes a person hungry and weak throughout the day, and hence must be avoided. Enjoy grilled or baked lean meat, skinless chicken or fish to get good proteins. Avoid fried and processed foods high in fat and sugar. Include low-fat dairy products like laban in the diet. Eating three dates to break the fast is a healthy way to begin iftar.  Incorporate vegetables and fruits in your diet to provide vitamins and minerals.  Avoid overeating during iftar and suhoor. Overeating can lead to several health problems like gastritis, indigestion, weight gain, lethargy, poor control of sugars, BP and cholesterol. Overeating also reduces both the health and spiritual benefits of Ramadan.

Staying physically active

It is advisable to perform physical activity during Ramadan, as mere eating and sleeping contributes to ill health. Perform physical activity for 30 minutes every day in an air-conditioned room. Avoid high intensity, aggressive exercises during day time. Just two to three hours after before iftar would be a convenient time. Stop any physical activity if you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain or difficulty breathing. As already discussed, drinking sufficient quantities of water between iftar and suhoor is advisable to avoid dehydration.

The month of discipline             

Not the least, the holy month of Ramadan should not be viewed as a month of feasting and leisure. Ramadan should be practiced with utmost discipline in our life style without compromising the quality of work and productivity.

May Almighty accept from us and make this holy month a source of positive strength for the days ahead.

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