Stay healthy this Ramadan

With Ramadan this year taking place during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to keep a few points in mind for those of you who are fasting.

Some studies show that not eating or drinking for prolonged periods of time might weaken the immune system, so it’s crucial that you get enough water intake and calories during the hours you’re permitted to eat. Both under-eating and also over-eating can affect the immune system, according to experts. The key, as with many things, is trying to maintain a healthy balance.

Dehydration can affect the mucus which lines our airways and acts a protective barrier for our bodies. So, first and foremost, make sure to have plenty of water from sundown to sunrise, as well as water-rich foods including:

Cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, celery, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, zucchini, watermelon, spinach, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, kale, broccoli, peaches, carrots (especially baby carrots!), oranges, pineapple, apples, bell peppers and plain yogurt.

Don’t forget that plenty of other liquids besides water can help you stay hydrated, so while making water your primary hydrator, you can also have skimmed or low fat milk, caffeine-free herbal tea, no-sugar added coconut water, broth, and juice (but watch out for high sugar content!). Avoid too many caffeinated drinks, and steer away from fizzy and sugary beverages.

When it comes to food, you might find the following guidelines to be helpful:

  • A traditional and healthy way to break your fast is to begin your iftar by eating three dates, as they are a great source of fibre.
  • Incorporate lots of vegetables and fruits. Eat a rainbow, as the saying goes, and include a colourful variety of these fresh produce in your diet, as the more colour, the more vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients you get.
  • Whole grains, legumes and pulses are great sources of energy and fibre. Avoid simple carbohydrates.
  • For proteins, besides beans and legumes, you can grill or bake lean meat, or enjoy skinless chicken and fish.
  • Avoid too many sweets, fried food, and foods that are too fatty, salty or spicy, as these can increase thirst, indigestion and heartburn, as well as have other negative health consequences.
  • Don’t skip suhoor, the light meal before you begin fasting every day. Have lots of fluids and water-rich foods with your meal, and include vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates and protein rich foods. Try including, whole-wheat bread, dairy products such as unsalted cheese, labneh, milk and yogurt, as well as eggs, beans, nuts and avocado.

Besides your diet, you need to make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep to help your body regenerate to best protect your health, as well as stay active as much as possible.

Remember to continue following all governmental guidelines and those by international health authorities, wash your hand with soap and water frequently, maintain social distancing, stay at home as much as possible, and avoid contact with anyone sick. Also ensure you follow your governmental regulations about wearing masks in public and any other official instructions.

Ramadan Kareem, and we wish you a healthy and safe rest of the holy month!