Why nutrition is important during the Month of Ramadan?

Ryan Fernando - Why nutrition is important during the Month of Ramadan?

2024-03-16 03:09:38

Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims around the world, where they fast from sunrise to sunset with spiritual reflection. Fasting during this time teaches patience, compassion, and gratitude amongst others.

This time poses significant challenges from a nutrition perspective, and it is essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet throughout to avoid any health complications.

Some do a complete dry fast during the day, wherein one does not consume anything, solid or liquid, while some do a water fast, where only liquids like water are consumed, no solids.

Here are some tips for staying healthy and hydrated during Ramadan (for those who do a water fast).

How can you ensure that you are hydrated whilst fasting?

Many people struggle with dehydration during Ramadan so it is important to ensure that you rehydrate during non-fasting hours.

Here’s how to adequately stay hydrated:

1. Sip on water frequently between sunset and sunrise.

2. Do not increase the amount of caffeine that you would drink on a normal day.

3. Avoid foods with a high sodium content as this can lead to increased thirst.


IFTAR

Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast after sunset is an opportunity to replenish the body with essential nutrients.

What is the best way to break my fast?

1. Include foods from each food group to provide essential nutrients – whole grains, meat, dairy, fat, fruits and vegetables. Remember, each food group provides different nutrients, so include them all.

2. Break your fast slowly. For example, start with a light snack such as dates, soup or a salad. This can also be an excellent time to exercise. You can then eat your main Iftar meal after your exercise is complete.

3. Practice mindful eating and portion control during Iftar to prevent overeating after fasting all day.

Suhoor

Suhoor is the meal before the fast begins and is an essential part of sustaining energy levels throughout the day.

What is best to eat for Suhoor?

It is very important that you do not skip Suhoor as it sets you up for the day. Here are some important Suhoor guidelines:

1. Focus on hydration, protein, fat &fiber (complex carbohydrates). Include a mix of all macronutrients to delay gastric emptying and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

2. Incorporate protein-rich foods. A lot of people tend to forget about protein at Suhoor, however it is very important in helping you to feel fuller for longer.

Eggs can be a great protein option to include at Suhoor due to our early morning food preferences. Aim for 1.1 - 1.3g of protein per kg of body weight per day to aid muscle maintenance.

3. Do not forget to drink an adequate amount of water at Suhoor to prevent dehydration from occurring throughout the day.

How can I manage constipation during Ramadan?

Constipation can be a common concern during Ramadan, particularly at the start.

You can manage your constipation during this time with the following strategies:

· Opt for high-fiber foods during Suhoor – think wholegrains, fruits & vegetables.

· Ensure adequate hydration. Ensure you keep your water intake constant at 40 ml/ kg body weight

· Include fiber-rich options such as kiwis, dates, prunes, and flaxseeds in your diet.

· Prioritize daily movement, light stretches, and low-intensity exercise.

· Eat slowly and ensure proper chewing of food.

Benefits of fasting

  • It promotes the release of Human growth hormone (HGH): Your blood level of HGH may increase dramatically. Higher levels of this hormone promote fat-burning and muscle gain and have numerous other benefits.

  • Can help you lose weight and visceral fat: Increased levels of norepinephrine all increase the breakdown of body fat and make it easier for your body to use fat for energy. (source)Fasting has been shown to improve several risk factors for heart disease, including (source) :- Blood sugar levels- Blood pressure- Blood triglycerides Level- Total and LDL (bad) cholesterol- Inflammatory markers

  • Improved Brain Health:- Animal research from 2019 shows that intermittent fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells. This may, in turn, benefit brain function. (source)

  • Reduced oxidative stress- A 2018 review states that intermittent fasting may help enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. (source) A study from 2019 found that intermittent fasting may also help reduce inflammation, which plays a role in various conditions.

  • Improves Longevity:- Animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting may help to extend a person’s life span in the same way that long-term calorie restriction can. A 2017 study on mice found that every-other-day fasting helped to extend their lifespan by 13%. (source)

Conclusion

While fasting during Ramadan it is essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to avoid any health complications. By prioritizing hydration, a healthy Iftar, and a healthy Suhoor, individuals can maximize the benefits of the sacred month while nurturing their bodies.

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