RAMADAN 2015: HOW TO STAY HEALTHY DURING THE FASTING PERIOD!

ramadan 2015

Photo credit: huffingtonpost.ca

Welcome to Ramadan 2015!

It is an established fact in Science that fasting has tremendous health benefits — especially intermittent fasting.
However, fasting is a delicate activity that requires carefulness and guidance in order to enjoy the benefits and avoid any harm to the body and mind.

According to the study conducted by Dr. Eric Ravussin, fasting has several health benefits including increasing one’s life span!

“Alternate-day fasting may be an alternative to prolonged diet restriction for increasing the life span” —Dr. Eric Ravussin

In this article, I will give you health tips and nutrition tips to help you stay healthy, maintain strength, and maximize all the benefits of fasting to the body and mind. We will plan what to eat, what to do, and how to live!

#1: Consult with Your Doctor First

Fasting is a rigorous exercise that shakes the body system, aggressively! People who are physically unstable and have health challenges would, therefore, have to approach fasting cautiously. Generally, even if you feel well, everyone needs a check with the doctor to certify you safe and fit for the fasting. This is important. Consult with your doctor especially if you have: diabetes, ulcer, migraines; if you are breastfeeding or very sick — needing admission, blood transfusion, and strong drugs; if you are on prescribed medications; if you are a child or if you are pregnant; and so on. Ideally, moreover, as I said earlier on, everyone should see a doctor first.

#2: Eat Well Every Morning

Do not skip suhur! Medically, as most nutritionists agree, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It prepares the body for the day and keeps it functioning as it should. Eating breakfast regularly is also a great weight control tip! For the fasting, wake up early enough to have time to eat. Eat healthy and balanced foods. Eat enough rich, natural foods with plenty of fruits. Drink plenty of water. Avoid processed foods. Avoid spicy foods and harsh drugs as these might irritate your stomach (as it gets emptied during the day) and cause heartburn. Watch out, if you are prone to these. If you are on drugs, don’t forget to take your drugs after eating and as prescribed and instructed by your doctor.

#3: Enjoy Plenty of Rest and Light Exercise

Due to decrease intake of food and water, during the day, make sure you avoid strenuous and vigorous activities. Limit physical activities. Reduce physical stress. Enjoy plenty of rest. Have siesta daily. Catch a nap whenever you can. If you are used to regular exercise, your exercise should be light — like walking and stretches. You could fix the time for the exercise when you deem fit – before the start of the fast (in the morning) or after breaking the fast (in the evening). You choose!

#4: Break the Fast Healthy and Gradually

Iftar should be observed according to the sunnah. The traditions and teachings have scientific support in this instance. Don’t rush. I know you are very hungry. Be gradual. Start with dates, fruits, milk, water, or fruit juice. Then progress, gradually, to other solid and heavier meals.

You need to bring the blood sugar up slowly. Do not overeat. Resist the urge to drink soft drinks and processed meals. As always, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are the best foods on Earth. Taking a daily dose of multivitamins capsules is a very wise thing to do during this fasting period. It will supplement some of the needed vitamins and minerals. If you are on drugs, don’t forget to take your drugs after eating and as prescribed and instructed by your doctor.

#5: Break Harmful Habits and Addictions

One very helpful health benefit of fasting is the opportunity it gives one to overcome habits and lifestyle that affects one’s health negatively. The religious undertone and the community involvement helps one in the decision, strengthening ones will to change behavior and develop healthy habits. Some scholars suggest that it takes about 21 – 30 days to form a new habit — and this fasting period gives us the opportunity and the psychological environment to do just that! This is a chance to overcome harmful habits (like smoking and alcoholism), addictions (like addictions to food, phones, the Internet), and unhealthy eating (of junks, fast foods, soft drinks, and processed foods in general). You could use this period to install new habits like brushing the teeth twice daily, exercising daily, eating only natural, unprocessed meals, and so on.

These are some basic health tips and nutrition guides you need to follow in order to stay healthy and maximize the health benefits of fasting. Most of the tips aren’t especially new if you have been following my articles; but they are needed in other for one to give one’s best in during fasting and derive the optimum benefits from the fast, in turn.

Happy Ramadan 2015! It is a season of SHARING!

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Dr. 'Malik Haruna King is a practicing Nigerian Medical Doctor and Sex Therapist. He helps people with sensitive health issues find answers to questions they are too ashamed to ask!