Ramadan: How to keep healthy whilst fasting

 

Flickr/raasiel

Muslims in the UK are expected to fast for around 18 hours this Ramadan, with the Suhoor – pre-dawn meal – time ending before 3 AM at the end of Ramadan. At the same time, Iftaar – the meal taken after breaking the fast – times will be much later, going past 9:30 pm in many places.

Suhoor and Iftaar times will differ from region to region, and city to city, so Muslims will be looking at the timetables provided by their local mosques to know when they should start and end their fasts.

What should Muslims eat when not fasting?

Ayishah Swiecinska, a holistic therapist  who runs her clinics under the name Harmony Online, said there is a risk of dehydration for fasting Muslims this summer:

“Mainstream medicine advise that the average human being needs at least two litres of water everyday.

“However, at a cellular level, water has a tendency to dehydrate – especially because the quality of tap water in Britain is not so good.

“So I suggest to those who are fasting to drink at least one litre of coconut water, while the rest can be water and other liquids.”

She added, “make sure the coconut water contains no added sugar, and is not from concentrate as this is of the best quality.”

Public Health England have also put out heat health advice for Ramadan:

“During hot weather, dehydration is common and a serious risk. If you start to feel unwell, disoriented or confused, or collapse or faint, advice is to stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluid.

“This is especially important for older adults, those with poorly controlled medical conditions such as low/high blood pressure, diabetes and those who are receiving dialysis treatment.

“The Muslim Council of Britain has confirmed that breaking fast in such conditions is allowable under Islamic law.”

Because the fasting hours are so long, there may be a tendency for Muslims to overeat at Iftaar.

Swiecinska said that Muslims can keep in line with the traditions of Prophet Muhammad and eat little to keep fit and spiritually inclined. She also advised that fruits, vegetables, smoothies, and soups are a good source of nutrition for Iftaar as they are easily digested:

“If you make choice to eat meat, make sure it is Tayeb- ethically farmed. You might want to reduce carbs and grains to keep your digestive system at rest during fasting in Ramadan.”

Meanwhile, NHS Choices has put up some resources for fasting in Ramadan, and the Communities in Action has published a Ramadan Health Guide.

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