Ramadan… A look from within

It is Ramadan… the month of goodness and fasting, this month changes the general diet of most people… It is the month of fasting where we, in our Arab and Muslim countries, used to devour this month’s delicious foods and drinks.

This leads to counterproductive results in many cases, because of the over-eating, and the lack of health awareness in this holy month.

Fasting is an excellent opportunity to let the stomach rest and clean the body, do not turn this opportunity into a problem for your stomach and body. So you must consider several eating rules in Ramadan to get the full benefits of fasting and avoid all health problems.

Our food in Ramadan shouldn’t be much different from our food in any normal day, where it should be as simple as possible in a way that keeps our weights normal without an increase or decrease.

Since the stomach is empty for a long time during the day, it should not be filled quickly when Iftar time comes; it is well known that eating large amounts of food at once and quickly may lead to swelling of the stomach, a gastric upset and indigestion.

Prophet Muhammad used to start his Iftar with a few dates or water, then pray the Maghreb prayer, and then complete his food. Eating some dates and drink some water alerts the stomach to absorb the sugar and water, and removes the feeling of thirst and hunger.

Food should be varied and should include all the nutrients. It should contain a good amount of salad, because salad is rich in fiber and gives a sense of fullness and satiety, so we eat less amount of the rest of food. We should avoid spices, condiments and pickles as much as possible, it’s also advisable to avoid fries; they cause indigestion and intestinal upset.

Water, is the most valuable and important item for the body, especially in hot weather where the body needs extra amounts of water to compensate for what the body had lost during the fasting period.

We should avoid high salinity foods, also spices and condiments, especially at the starter meal because it increases the sense of thirst. It is advisable to avoid using the preserved foods, or fast food.
There is no doubt that the starter meal is useful in preventing fatigue and headaches during the day in Ramadan, and reduces the feeling of thirst.
It is advisable that the starter meal would contain the food that is easy to digest like yogurt, honey, fruits and others.

If you have constipation, you should eat food that is rich in fiber such as salads, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and try to eat a lot of fruit instead of Ramadan sweets, taking into account to take a break between the main meal and sweets or any other foods to give for your stomach the chance to digest its contents.

Some people used to sleep after the Iftar, but indeed sleeping after eating a large rich meal may increase lethargy and laziness. It is ok to relax a bit after eating to regain the activity and vitality.

Certainly, the benefits of quitting smoke begin the very first day the smoker quits, thus smokers who want to quit this bad habit will find a good chance in Ramadan to train on that, because if the fasting person could stop smoking for long hours during the day, why not to continue for the rest of the day. This is definitely not difficult, but it needs true will.

It is known that anger increases the producing of the Adrenaline in the body by a significant amount, if this happens in the first period of fasting, during the digestion of food, it may disturb the digestion and worsen the absorption, while if it occurs during the day some glycogen in the liver would turn into glucose to provide the body some energy for fight, which is -of course- a lost energy.
Also the repeated exposure to psychological pressures produces more of the harmful type of cholesterol, which is one of the main causes of atherosclerosis.

People who have high blood pressure can fast as long as they take their medicines regularly; there are many drugs that can be given once or twice a day. These patients should avoid salty nuts, pickles, and reduce salt in food, while people with stable angina pectoris can usually fast with and continue to take medication regularly.
There are a number of heart cases that are not allowed to fast such as patients with recent stroke, and those with a fall (failure) of acute heart, and those with unstable angina attacks and others.

Many heart patient can fast, the lack of a digestion process during the day means less effort to the heart muscle and greater comfort, as ten per cent of blood that the heart pumps it to the body goes to the digestive system during the process of digestion.
If you do not have one of the renal stones before there is no need to worry in Ramadan. But if you had stones you may get worse if you don’t drink sufficient amounts of fluids. It is advisable to patients with stones in particular to refrain from fasting in the days of extreme heat, with significantly less amount of urine.  Generally patients with renal calculi should drink adequate amounts of fluids in the evening and the pre-dawn meal, while avoiding exposure to heat and hard effort during the day, and they are advised to eat less meat and certain foodstuff such as spinach, chard, nuts, and other…

As for pregnant and breastfeeding women, they should consult a doctor to fast, if they were allowed to, they should not eat a large amount of food at the Iftar, and should distribute the moderate food into two meals: the first at Iftar, and the rest after four hours. Also advised to delay the pre-dawn meal, drink a lot of yogurt, and reduce the fat foods and sweets.

The woman who is breast-feeding must provide for the newborn an extra amount of water and fluids to drink during the hot hours beside the breast-feeding, she should take care of her food in terms of quantity and quality, also should do a lot of feeds in the period between the Iftar and the pre-dawn meal, and when she feels tired and fatigue she should finish her fast and must consult a doctor.

 In general, Ramadan is a golden time to follow excellent healthy habits for the body and get rid of some bad habits that we practice in our diet all days of the year, in addition to its spiritual  benefits where the acts of worship and prayers increase, and the fasting person feels psychological and mental comfort, so we have to take the most advantage of this period and not to increase the amount of our food in the Iftar in order not to get negative results, we should also pay good attention for the medical advices to anyone who has a health problem, and so this month is really the month of goodness and health.

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