While fasting generates a lot of health opportunities, people still need to navigate their diet carefully, according to experts. Here are some nutrition tips.
Since the time of Prophet Muhammed, dating back to the 7th Century, Muslims have fasted in the holy month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset to clean not only their spiritual lives but also their body organs, which need a break from heavy workload year-round.
While fasting facilitates a renewing process, which nourishes the body’s organs from the brain, the centre of the nervous system, to the stomach, liver, kidneys and other crucial organs, experts advise that people need to craft a working nutrition plan not to turn fasting advantages to disadvantages.
Ceren Kucukvardar, a Turkish nutritionist, strongly suggests that because people have a limited time for nutrition, people need to use it carefully, dividing their food intake between iftar, when fasting ends with an evening meal, and suhoor, a pre-dawn meal, after which fasting begins, avoiding heavy meals to prevent malfunctions.
“First of all, we need to divide iftar into two parts. Break your fasting with light foods like soup, bread and cheese and then have a break like 15 minutes. After this little break, move to the main dish without overeating,” Kucukvardar told TRT World.
She advises that several hours after iftar people could have a refreshment.
“We can have refreshments with two walnuts and some fruits or a fruit and a bowl of yoghurt about two hours after iftar,” Kucukvardar says.
In any case, people need to consume at least two or two and a half litres of fluids between iftar and suhoor to meet the body’s demand for water and other liquids, according to Kucukvardar.
People also need to be well-planned in their suhoor, which needs to resemble a regular breakfast, she says.
“Our metabolism is slow in suhoor because it’s part of a sleeping period. As a result, we should not avoid any main course at all, being careful about what we eat,” she says, urging caution.
The suhoor menu could include foods like yoghurt, fresh fruits, oats, eggs, which help delay hunger in longer periods, according to Kucukvardar.
One of the main problematic habits in Ramadan is people’s heavy consumption of foods and fluids, which contain sodium bicarbonate, like sodas, rice, macaroni and Ramadan pita, she observes.
Instead of these foods, in Ramadan, we need to consume protein-rich power foods such as meat, chicken and salads, she says.
“After all, what I mostly see in Ramadan is people lose weight, which is a good thing,” she adds.
Sick are exempt from fasting
Despite all nutrition tips, vulnerable people, who are pregnant, sick, extremely elder and underage, can choose not to fast as it could damage their bodies and put their lives in danger, according to Islamic teachings.
“There are different sicknesses and people with medical problems need to consult with their doctors before deciding to fast,” says Murat Alemdar, an associate professor of neurology at the Medical School of the Sakarya University.
People with low blood glucose levels and irregular eating habits may also experience some problems when they fast and it’s also better for them to consult with medics before fasting, according to Alemdar.
People, who are both fasting and using medicines, also need to be careful, Alemdar told TRT World.
“If they do not consume necessary levels of fluids between iftar and suhoor, they might see that medicines levels in their blood increase to extreme degrees, leading to developing serious medical conditions,” Alemdar cautions.
“People need to programme their time to use their medicines in a proper sense between iftar and suhoor alongside with the right amount of fluid consumption,” Alemdar adds.