Here is some useful advice on 'what to do and not to do' and so to avoid common problems that occur during Ramadan or soum. If followed, it would not only enable one to fast comfortably and enjoy the spiritual benefits of Ramadan but also avail the full health related benefits too. Indeed Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims and they do it by religious obligation. But this is also a month for physical detoxification and spiritual purification. Any one can observe a little self discipline in this month (or at a any time of the year) and have at least the physical detox effect there by getting rid of most of the modern day illnesses! What you have to do is observe the simple guidance given below. You are most welcome to contact me for any further assistance.
If you are a smoker, please start reducing 1-2 weeks before Ramadan. Ramadan is an ideal month to stop smoking completely as also the time to regulate other habits like heavy tea/coffee usage or tobacco/betal/pan chewing.
The foods we eat
During Ramadan, our diet should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that we maintain our weight more or less the same, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is over-weight, Ramadan is a good time to normalize one’s weight.
In view of the long hours of fasting, we
should consume slow digesting foods including fibre foods rather than
fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last between 8-12 hours, while fast
digesting foods last for only 2-4 hours.
· Slow-digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, etc; whole meal flour; whole meal pasta; unpolished rice; etc (called complex carbohydrates)
· Fast-digesting foods are foods that contain sugar, white flour, white rice, white pasta, etc. (called refined carbohydrates).
· Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods like cereals; whole wheat or whole meal flour, semolina; grains and seeds like beans and lentils; vegetables like green beans, peas, marrow, millet, spinach, fenugreek (methie), leaves of beetroot (iron rich), etc.; fruits with their skin, dried fruit especially dates, dried apricots, figs, prunes, etc.; and nuts like almonds; etc.
The foods should be well-balanced, containing foods from each food group, i.e., fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Foods from each food group should be eaten daily.
Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart burn, weight problems and blocking of arteries especially in the heart and brain.
Some Common Problems encountered with their causes and remedies.
Indigestion and Wind
Causes: Over-eating. Too much fried and fatty foods, spicy foods and foods that produce wind, e.g., eggs, cabbage, lentils, beans, carbonated drinks, etc.
Remedy: Do not over-eat, drink adequate amounts of water and fruit juices. Avoid fried and fatty foods. Add tymol (carom seeds, ajowan or omam) or celery seeds (ajmod or ayamodakam) to lentils and beans to lessen wind production.
Causes: Caffeine and tobacco withdrawal, doing too much work during the day, lack of sleep, hunger and thirst (usually occurs at the end of the day), stress etc.
Remedy: Cut down or stop caffeine containing drinks 1-2 weeks before Ramadan. Herbal teas and caffeine-free coffee may be substituted. Re-organise your schedule so as to have adequate time to do the necessary things and to have adequate rest and sleep.
Lethargy (mainly due to low blood pressure)
Weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness especially on getting up from a lying or sitting position, pale appearance and feeling faint, are symptoms associated with low blood pressure. This tends to occur at the end of the day.
Causes: Too little fluid intake, decreased salt intake, not eating enough at Sehri (suhur) and Iftaar.
Remedy: Increase fluid and salt intake. Eat enough to sustain you through the next day. Drink at least 1 litre of isotonic drinks between Iftaar and bedtime.
Caution: Low blood pressure should be confirmed by taking a reading when symptoms are present. Persons with high blood pressure may need their medication adjusted for the month of Ramadan. Diuretics should be avoided.
Low Blood Sugar
Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, feeling shaky (tremor), unable to do physical activities, headache, palpitations are symptoms of low blood sugar.
Causes: Consuming too much sugar-containing foods, i.e., refined carbohydrates especially at sehri (suhur).
Remedy: Limit sugar-containing foods and drinks at sehri (suhur). Eat more complex carbohydrates.
This applies to non-diabetics. Diabetics will need to adjust their medications during Ramadan and please consult your doctor for this.
Causes: Inadequate intake of calcium or magnesium-containing foods.
Remedy: Eat foods rich in above minerals, e.g., fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat, dried fruit and dates.
Caution: Those on high blood pressure medication or those prone to kidney stones should consult their doctor
Hiatus Hernia and Peptic Ulcers
Causes: Increased acid levels in an empty stomach during Ramadan can aggravate the above conditions. It presents as a burning pain in the stomach area and under the ribs radiating up the chest to the throat. The main culprits are spicy foods, especially sauces, coffee and aerated drinks like cola, fatty and fried foods.
Remedy: Avoid all the above foods as much as possible. Also do not over-eat. Have small meals rather than one big meal, e.g., small Iftaar and a snack after Taraweeh. Medications are available (PPIs) to control acid levels in the stomach. But these should be taken only under tyhe supervision of your doctor. There are very good medicines in Homeopathy for this.
Kidney stones may not present themselves for months to years after they are formed. So those prone to stones shopuld take special care during Ramadan..
Causes: Some people have a tendency to produce stones in the kidney. Other causes include not drinking enough liquids to flush out the kidneys.
Remedy: Drink excessive amounts of liquid between Iftaar and bedtime. Those prone to kidney stones must also decrease their calcium intake, e.g., dairy products, shell fishes etc.
Causes: During Ramadan, when extra salaah are performed, the pressure on the knee and ankle joints increases. In the elderly, and those with arthritis, this may result in pain, stiffness, swelling and discomfort.
Remedy: Start losing weight so that these joints do not have to carry extra loads. Also acclimatize by exercising the lower limbs before Ramadan (walking 30-45 minutes 3 times a week etc.) so that they can be prepared for the additional strain. Being physically fit allows greater flexibility during Ramadan.
Please find that Homeopathy has answers to all the health related problems during Ramadan. Also these drugs being stomach friendly and with practically no side effects one can easily consume during the month of fasting and have the full benefits of the blessed month despite most of the illnesses.
Almost all religions advice fasting in one form or another. The important thing is that fasting (especially the 'soum' in Islam) is not merely an abstinence from food and drinks. The word soum in Arabic roughly means discipline. It is a period of complete physical, mental and spiritual discipline. Here one has to be very cautious in his thoughts and deeds for a whole month. During Ramadan besides abstaining from food and drinks one need to stay away from all intoxicating things, control one's emotions, avoid using false words, lies and swearing and also excess of sex. Instead devote the entire month to increase and heighten the prayers, recital and study of Quran (holy book of Islam) and try to get as near to God Almighty as possible. Interestingly if one observe all these rules not only will there be any health problems during soum but most of the minor illnesses (including stomach and abdomen related ones) will be abolished automatically! This is proven scientifically over and over again.
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