Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Preventing Minor Discomfort During Ramadhan

As Ramadhan approaching the second half, there were certain peoples might experience some minor discomforts. The following measures can help prevent these common conditions:

Constipation — Constipation can cause discomfort and indigestion, making you feel bloated. This can be caused by eating too much refined food, drinking too little water and / or not eating enough fibre. To avoid constipation, avoid refined foods by eating foods rich in fibre like whole grain cereals and bread. Increase your intake of high fibre carbohydrates such as daals, dried beans, fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of water.

Indigestion — Indigestion can be caused by over-eating or eating too many fried, fatty and spicy foods, or foods that produce gas. Fasting can also cause increased acidity, leading to the feeling of indigestion. To avoid indigestion, try not to overeat. Be sure to drink plenty of water and include foods rich in fibre to neutralise acidity and promote a feeling of fullness without overeating.

Headaches — Headaches while fasting can be caused by caffeine and tobacco-withdrawal, doing too much in one day, lack of sleep, dehydration and hunger. Headaches can occur as the day passes and can worsen by the end of the day. To avoid headaches, prepare for Ramadan by decreasing caffeine and tobacco consumption slowly, starting a week or two before Ramadan. Start drinking caffeine-free teas, coffee, unsweetened juices and water. Also, don’t forget about sleep. Prepare for Ramadan by reorganising your daily schedule to ensure a good night’s rest.

Low blood sugar — Low blood sugar can occur because of the length of time between meals. and Symptoms of low blood sugar need to be watched for carefully. These can include weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, perspiration, feeling shaky, an inability to perform physical activities, headaches and palpitations.

Among non-diabetics, having too many refined carbohydrates like sugary foods, sugar-rich beverages like cola especially at sahur can cause low blood sugar during the fast. Low blood sugar can also be caused by not eating at sahur. To avoid significant low blood sugar levels, be sure to eat at sahur and limit intake of sugary foods and drinks. Make sure to eat nutrient dense foods including proteins, such as chicken, grilled lean meat, and eggs; fibre-rich carbohydrates, like whole wheat roti, and fruits; and a large glass of water.

As a bottom line, do remember a meal should be a meal and not a feast. Please always remember to consult your doctor in advance if you have any of these conditions already, so that you can experience a rewarding and healthy Ramadhan.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good and Bad Foods During Ramadhan

During Ramadhan you need to put extra effort into including foods from all five food groups to ensure variety and a well-balanced diet. These foods include:
• breads, cereals and other grain products
• fruit and vegetables
• meat, fish and poultry
• milk, cheese and yoghurt
• fats and sugars (these contain very little nutrients and are high in calories and therefore their intake should be limited).

The most commonly consumed foods by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were milk, dates, lamb/mutton and oats. Healthy foods mentioned in the Holy Quran are fruit and vegetables, such as olives, onions, cucumber, figs, dates, grapes as well as pulses such as lentils.

Complex carbohydrates are foods that will help release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting and are found in grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millets, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and basmati rice. Look out for foods labelled Low G.I.

Fibre-rich foods are also digested slowly and include bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with skin, vegetables such as green beans and almost all fruit, including apricots, prunes and figs.

Foods to avoid are the heavily processed and fast-burning foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour or fatty food like cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets. It may also be worth avoiding the caffeine content in drinks such as tea, coffee and cola (caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination).

What Foods Should I Eat at Suhoor and Iftar?

The pre-dawn meal should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours. It is therefore particularly important to include slowly-digesting foods like complex carbohydrates. Drink fluids to keep you hydrated during the day and assist with digestion.

The meal that breaks the day’s fast could include dates, following the Sunnah. Dates will provide a refreshing burst of much-needed energy. Fruit juices will also have a similar, revitalising effect.

As a bottom line, properly plan food intake during Ramadhan would determine your 'freshness' during the day time when completing your daily routine.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ramadhan and Physiological Changes

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and in Muslim tradition is a time of heightened commitment to piety and purification. Fasting is among the special observances that Muslims undertake, in which they refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

For many people, the key question regarding fasting is whether it is good or bad for your health. The answer to this requires a quick overview of what happens inside the body during fasting: the physiology of fasting.

The changes that occur in the body in response to fasting depend on the length of the continuous fast. Technically the body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorption of 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 stores of glucose run out, fat becomes the next store source of energy for the body. Small quantities of glucose are also ‘manufactured’ through other mechanisms in the liver.

Only with a prolonged fast of many days to weeks does the body eventually turn to protein for energy. This is the technical description of what is commonly known as ‘starvation’, and it is clearly unhealthy. It involves protein being released from the breakdown of muscle, which is why people who starve look emaciated and become very weak.

As the Ramadan fast only extends from dawn till dusk, there is ample opportunity to replenish energy stores at pre-dawn and dusk meals. This provides a progressive, gentle transition from using glucose to fat as the main source of energy, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein. The use of fat for energy aids weight loss, preserving the muscles, and in the long run reduces your cholesterol levels. In addition, weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure. A detoxification process also seems to occur, as any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body. After a few days of the fast, higher levels of certain hormones appear in the blood (endorphins), resulting in a better level of alertness and an overall feeling of general mental well-being.

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 adequate levels of ‘energy food’, such as carbohydrates and some fat. Hence, a balanced diet with adequate quantities of nutrients, salts and water is vital.

The fasts of Ramadhan can improve a person’s health, but if the correct diet is not followed can possibly worsen it! The deciding factor is not the fast itself, but rather what is consumed in the non-fasting hours. To fully benefit from fasting, a person should spare a great deal of thought to the type and quantity of food they will indulge in through the blessed month.Overeating can not only harm the body but it is thought also to interfere with a person’s spiritual growth during the month. A diet that has less than a normal amount of food but is sufficiently balanced will keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadhan. The diet should be simple and not differ too much from one’s normal everyday diet.

As a bottom line, perhaps this Ramadhan will bring more successful story for those who are set their objective to have healthier lifestyle and quality food intake towards Syawal.

"Ramadhan Mubarak"