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01 May 2019
Dr Uzma Sarwar is a GP and a Clinical Director with Luton Clinical Commissioning Group. She says the three main factors for healthy fasting are: hydration, nutrition and moderate exercise.
“Our bodies consist of 60% – 70% water and any reduction in its intake can cause dehydration, resulting in headaches, dizziness and tiredness,” says Dr Sarwar. “So it’s vital to drink at least two litres of water through the non-fasting hours to maintain balanced hydration.
“Avoid drinking large quantities of water all at once or during a large meal. Instead drink small quantities between meals. Also, drinking water at room temperature or slightly chilled is better than drinking iced water as this can cause indigestion.”
Dr Sarwar says fasting lowers the body’s blood glucose level, so having a few dates, fresh orange juice or a bowl of soup ten minutes before eating your main meal will help bring it back up to normal.
To maintain energy levels during the day it’s important to eat the right food. Dr Sarwar recommends slow digesting foods such as whole-wheat bread, rice and potatoes.
“Eating carbohydrates for the pre-dawn meal will give you energy for many hours, unlike foods high in sugar which only provide energy for a short time,” Dr Sarwar explains.
“With the carbohydrates you should try to eat foods rich in protein like boiled eggs and dairy products. These will make you feel fuller for a longer period. Other protein-rich foods include fish, chicken and vegetables.”
Exercising and fasting may seem incompatible, but Dr Sarwar says a little moderate exercise will raise energy levels during Ramadan.
“When the body has less food, it starts to burn fat to make energy. A brisk ten-minute walk just before breaking your fast, before bedtime and before the pre-dawn meal can do wonders – just remember not to overdo it.”
Dr Sarwar also points out that fasting is not suitable for everyone. She says pregnant women and those with diabetes or a serious health condition should not fast, as it could harm their health.
“But generally,” she continues, “by following this simple advice Muslims will stay healthy throughout Ramadan and can even discover a healthier lifestyle.”