Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Health Tips For Ramadan.

Health experts have provided useful tips on how to avoid some common problems encountered in Ramadan. “If followed, the tips will help people to fast comfortably and enjoy fully the spiritual benefits of the holy month,” Maharouf Haj Mohideen, director for academic affairs and consultant OB-GYN, says.
“Ramadan and fasting during the month are a gift to all mankind from its Creator. Diabetes is a serious problem. Some qualified physicians associated with major hospitals and polyclinics have provided interesting facts on the subject.
Our diet should not differ very much from our normal food and should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that we maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining it. However, if one is over-weight, Ramadan is an ideal time to normalize one’s weight,” Dr. Abdulkader Ajam at the Medical Subspecialties Center, says.
In view of the long hours of fasting, slow digesting foods including fiber containing foods should be consumed rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to eight hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only three to four hours.
Slow digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat oats millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal, flour and unpolished rice, called carbohydrates. Fast-burning foods are those that contain sugar, white flour and other refined carbohydrates.
Fiber-containing foods are bran-containing foods, whole wheat, grains and seeds vegetables like green beans, peas, sem, marrow, mealies, spinach, and other herbs like the leaves of beetroot, fruit with skin, dried fruit especially apricots, figs and prunes, and almonds.
The foods eaten should be well balanced containing those from each food group — fruit, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heartburn and weight problems.
Dr. Razeen Mahroof, an anesthetist from Oxford, says there’s a strong relationship between diet and health. “Ramadan isn’t always thought of as being an opportunity to lose weight because the spiritual aspect is emphasized more than the health aspect,” he says. “However, it’s a great chance to get the physical benefits as well.”
The changes that happen in the body during a fast depend on the length of the fast. The body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorbing nutrients from the food. In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body’s main source of energy. During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the glucose runs out, fat becomes the next source of energy for the body.
Other processes in the liver also manufacture small quantities of glucose. With a prolonged fast of many days or weeks, the body starts using protein for energy.
This is the technical description of what is commonly known as ‘starvation’. It is clearly unhealthy. It involves protein being released from the breakdown of muscle, which is why people who starve look very thin and become very weak.
“However, you are unlikely to reach the starvation stage during Ramadan because the fast is broken daily,” Dr. Mahroof says.
As the Ramadan fast only lasts from dawn to dusk, the body’s energy can be replaced in the pre-dawn and dusk meals. This provides a gentle transition from using glucose to fat as the main source of energy, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein.
Dr. Mahroof says the use of fat for energy helps weight loss. It preserves the muscles, and eventually reduces your cholesterol level. In addition, weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure. “A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body,” he says. “After a few days of the fast, higher levels of certain hormones appear in the blood (endorphins), making you more alert and giving an overall feeling of general mental wellbeing.”
A balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. The kidney is very efficient at maintaining the body’s water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. However, these can be lost through sweating. To prevent muscle breakdown, meals must contain enough energy food, such as carbohydrates and some fat. “The way to approach your diet during fasting is similar to the way you should be eating outside Ramadan,” says Dr. Mahroof. “You should have a balanced diet with the right proportion of carbohydrates, fat and protein.”

Some medical experts in consultation with Islamic scholars have contributed to the following meal plan choices during the fasting month:
  • Suhur: A bowl of porridge with milk, one slice of toast and a handful of unsalted nuts.
  • Iftar: Pitta bread with chicken, salad and hummus and one or two Middle-Eastern sweet baklawa pieces.
  • Suhur: Wheat-based cereal with milk, a plain scone or crumpet and an apple or banana.
  • Iftar: Chicken with boiled rice, vegetable curry and mixed salad followed by fruit salad with single cream.
  • Suhur: A bowl of shredded wheat or muesli and a pear or orange.
  • Iftar: Fish baked with roasted vegetables or fish curry with rice followed by sweet vermicelli or one piece of jalebi (an Indian sweet).
  • Suhur: Cheese and a one-teaspoon of jam with crackers or toast and a handful of dried fruits.
  • Iftar: Pasta cooked with vegetables and chicken or fish and a slice of plain cake with custard. Fluids (water and juices) and dates should be added to each suhur and iftar meal.

Fasting has its advantages from the point of view of health and hygiene. Physicians today acknowledge the many benefits of fasting that ensure health and the soundness of one’s body and mind. Some of these positive points have a direct influence on psychology and physique of the fasting individual.
Fasting has been found to be an effective treatment for psychological and emotional disorders. It helps a person to firm up his will, cultivate and refine his taste and manners, strengthen his conviction of doing good, avoid controversy, petulance and rashness, which all contribute toward a sane and healthy personality.
Besides nurturing resistance and ability to face hardships and endurance, fasting reflects on outward physical appearance by cutting out gluttony and getting rid of excess fat. The benefits of fasting on health do not stop there but are instrumental in alleviating a number of physical diseases, including those of the digestive systems, such as chronic stomachache, inflammation of the colon, liver diseases, indigestion, and conditions such as obesity, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, asthma, diphtheria and many other maladies.

So take the following precautions: 

  • Fried and fatty foods.
  • Foods containing too much sugar.
  • Over-eating especially at suhur.
  • Too much tea at suhur: Tea makes you pass more urine taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body will need during the day.
  • Smoking cigarettes: If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadan. Smoking is unhealthy and one should stop completely. 
  • Complex carbohydrates at suhur so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry.
  • Haleem is an excellent source of sugar, fiber, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
  • Almonds are rich in protein and fiber with less fat.
  • Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. 
  • As much water or fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time.
Finally, as Swiss physician Dr U. Barsilus, says: “The advantages of hunger as a remedy exceed those ingesting medicine several times.”

Wa'laykum Salam.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

    Health Tips