Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is done during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Adult Muslims all over the world practice the month-long abstinence in obedience to Prophet Muhammad’s teachings in the Qur-an. During this period, healthy Muslims forego eating from sunrise to sundown and increased religious and charitable activities are observed.
Fasting is a way of life for the people who follow the tenets of Islam. However, it is not compulsory as there are health consequences for others who are not fit enough to abstain from food and liquids. Children, pregnant mothers, the old and the ailing are exempted from participating.
During the long hours of fasting, the following medical issues are experienced, among others:
- Acid reflux
When the body is denied nourishment for long hours, the hunger pangs can be acute and it is a natural reaction to crave for food and binge when Iftar comes. Over-stuffing is unavoidable as the craving drives you to eat as much as you can to satisfy the hunger. If you are not careful, this can be detrimental to your health.
How to Fast and Stay Healthy
- Consult your doctor beforehand. Know if you are suffering from Diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and bleeding stomach ulcer. If you have any of these medical conditions, you must refrain from fasting.
- Eat during Suhour. Do not skip this meal. Eat more carbohydrates to give you energy throughout the day.
- Don’t drink too many cups of coffee or tea as caffeine irritates the bladder and cause urinary incontinence.
- Stay away from the scorching heat of the sun to avoid dehydration. This may cause severe headaches and increase thirst and irritability. Heat stroke may compound your problems.
- Break your fast slowly and carefully. Acid buildup may cause reflux and vomiting. Eating the traditional three dates at Iftar before the main meal is better than consuming large portions of food.
- A thin soup is good, followed by small chunks of meat, fish and vegetables.
- Keep oily dishes to a minimum.
- Eat slowly. Give your stomach a chance to digest the food.
- Go easy on the sugary sweets for it may keep you awake all night.
- If you have eaten more than you should have, do not go to bed immediately. Take a walk around the block or at a park near you. The short exercise will help digest the food and let you sleep soundly. A good sleep is essential for another day of fasting.
Fasting is a spiritual and emotional journey for those who practice it. It has its medical benefits as much as the religious fulfilment it brings to the person.