Ramadan is a time where we not only focus on thinking about the poor, improving our character and spiritual aspects but also to control ourselves and manage our health and well-being. Many people assume that fasting is a great opportunity to ‘lose weight’. With all respects it can to an extent where you are able to burn the fat that is in your body to produce energy and lower the levels of cholesterol.
Other advantages of fasting are the following:
a) To dissolve and remove toxins that are stored in fat. Amongst the toxins dissolved is mucus who plays a major role in reducing immunity. So by dissolving mucus when we fast; it aids in increasing the immune system to combat many diseases.
b) Lowering of the blood pressure
c) Controlling our diabetes better.
d) Improve aging and can act as a healing agent. The body makes Human Growth Hormone which is synthesized by the pituitary glands. The hormone is needed for growth and development so when we fast; the hormone is produced more and aids in improving our skin. When the energy is being used, dead cells, tissues, tumour cells are excreted from our body.
So what happens when we fast?
Glucose is a sugar (monosaccharide) that is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver which is the body’s main source for energy. When fasting; this storage is used up to provide energy. After when the glucose is used up; fat is then used as the next source of energy for the body. However; when you continuously fast for many days non-stop; the muscle protein is then used for energy; which is why those that undergo prolonged fasting look thin and are weak. Subhanallah!
However; when we look at the concept of fasting during Ramadhan; we won’t reach this stage as our fasting is broken on a daily basis and lasts from dawn to dusk; so the energy we need for our body has been re-fuelled from meals eaten before dawn and at dusk. You see the wisdom behind Allah’s commands! Alhamdulilah
What are the seven types of food?
Macronutrients is needed in large amounts (carbohydrates, proteins, water, fats and fibre).Micronutrients is needed in small amounts (water, minerals).
How can I keep fit?
1) Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is one of the ways where one can know how to maintain a healthy weight.
BMI = (Weight/Height) x Height.
· Underweight = 18.5
· Normal weight = 18.6-24.9
· Overweight = 25-29.9
· Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
2) Eating the right amount of food and drink water.
a) It is essential that the food we eat is simple and contain the necessary carbohydrates, proteins and fats to replace the lost energy.
b) It is vital to drink lots of water. The kidneys try to maintain water and mineral salts such as potassium and sodium needed for the body but can be lost via sweating, breathing and excretion of urine. Drinking water also helps to prevent headaches and dehydrations.
c) Try drinking milk! Did you know it contains 80-90% water?
d) Consume fruits and vegetables.
e) Space out the meals to aid in digesting food.
f) *AVOID* drinking fizzy drinks with high sugar content as it is not healthy to throw a large amount of sugar into your body all at once when you have used up the glucose from the body.
g) *AVOID* drinking diuretics such as tea and coffee as it cause dehydration.
h) *AVOID* eating frying or oily food such as chips, pakora, somasa, bhajis on a daily basis.
For Suhoor (pre-dawn meal); it is best to eat food that slowly release energy for example grains such as rice, flour, oats, barley, wheat and cornmeal etc.
Here is a suggested Suhoor plan
A glass of milk/water
Tuna salad, egg salad, cereal
Here is a suggested iftar plan:
Smoothie (fresh fruit with water/ fresh fruit with milk)
Dinner: rice or pasta chicken/fish/meat
3. Light exercise
A 15 minute walk after Fajr and after Iftar is great.
If you do lifting; *AVOID* doing TOO much lift training. An ideal time to lift would be an hour before iftar; that way when you break your fast; it will aid in recovery.
Examples of exercise you can do are squats, bench press, deadlifts during Ramadan.
4. Small naps/sleep
Common medical situations and possible solutions to resolve them.
Headaches can occur due to worry, not resting a lot, hunger, dehydration, exposure to sunlight and other reasons.
To reduce the risk of getting headaches:
a) Having a balanced diet is essential.
b) Drink lots of water.
c) Having medications such as Paracetamol can also help.
d) If the weather is hot; stay in the shade, wearing hat, sunglasses, would be a good idea.
e) If the headaches is persistent then it is best to visit your G.P.
The purpose of the acid’s presence is to aid in digestion (breakdown) of food. The stomach is naturally protected from the acidic environment via sphincters (doors that opens and closes to control the amount of food entering the stomach called and leaving the stomach) and digestive juices. The sphincter that links the food pipe (oesophagus) with the stomach is called the lower oesophageal sphincter and when the hydrochloric acid levels are high in the stomach this causes this sphincter to weaken and this is where you will feel the heartburn.
Fasting lowers the amount of hydrochloric acid made in the stomach; however when we think about the food; it causes the production of more hydrochloric acid. Thus it is important that those who experience heartburn are normally on medications that are taken regularly and should be taken during suhoor to avoid experiencing it when fasting. Examples of medications include the popular antacid called Gaviscon, other examples are proton pump inhibitors such as Zoton and antihistamines such as Zantac. Peppermint oil is another example as it can relax the smooth muscles of the bowel. Another way in avoiding heartburn is to lower the amount of greasy and spicy food.
This normally occurs as a result of loss of water via excreting urine, sweat and also breathing. It can be severe and be linked to cramps, dizzy, lethargy (tiredness) and even fainting. Thus it is important to drink a lot before fasting and after breaking the fast. It will also help if you are prescribed diuretics.
Those who have their Diabetes under control should seek their GP before Ramadan to discuss treatment plans. Those who inject insulin should not be fasting. All Diabetics should self-monitor their blood glucose levels regularly. Having low levels of glucose in the body can result in sweating, fainting and dizziness and if this occurs; ensure to drink a high sugar content drink.
It is not essential to fast whilst pregnant. Some research suggests that it is not advisable for a pregnant woman to fast. However, during the early pregnancy, if the pregnant woman feel that she is fit to fast she can proceed. The Shariah law states if she is not fit to fast then she can make up the fasts later on. If she is unable to fast, then she can perform fidyah which is to give a poor person food or give the value of the meals.
During Suhoor and after when breaking the fast, ensure that you eat fruits, vegetables and drink lots of water. What also helps is to eat food that has fibre. This will aid in bowel movement which will help break down food. If this problem still occurs; ask the GP to prescribe you with laxatives.
Fasting can also lead to overweight when consuming large amounts of food without discipline. Thus it is important to eat within proportions.
8) Having high or low blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is under control you can fast in sha Allah. I think you should also visit your GP prior Ramadan as they may want to change your medications that you take currently; so that you can take them at pre-dawn meal or after breaking your fast to help control blood pressure whilst fasting. Consuming lots of water also helps.
Try to make yourself busy by reciting Quran and not staying too long in the sun.
In sha Allah I will try to wrap up the article by mentioning that please ensure that you look after your health and well-being during Ramadan and beyond. If you are unable to fast due to not feeling well then do not put yourself in tahluka meaning in problem as Allah subhanahu wa taala says:
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. [2:184]
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