To keep the mind and body in good health is our responsibility, otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. The Holy month of Ramadan gives us a great opportunity to balance our lifestyle and quit habits which can deteriorate our health. During fasting we would be able to focus on discipline, eating habits and self-control. It also gives the body a chance to remove accumulated toxins and rejuvenate itself.
Normal changes that occur during fasting
The body enters a state of fasting approximately 8 hours after the last meal. After this time the body sugars stored in the liver and muscles are first utilized for energy. When the body runs out of sugar then the fats are mobilized for sustaining the energy needed. During a typical dawn to dusk fasting, there is a gentle transition of utilizing the sugars first and then the stored fats. This helps in reducing the weight and remove the toxins that accumulate within these fats. After a few days of fasting there are increases in hormones which gives us a feeling of well-being and alertness. The level of insulin in our body also dips during this time and is the lowest at the time of breaking the fast.
Laying the foundation
Preparation for Ramadan should begin a few days before the actual first day of the holy month. Reducing the number of cigarettes and cups of coffee would help to decrease their craving. Try to take small portions of food which are not too salty, spicy or deep fried.
It would be advisable to consult with your regular doctor if you can fast and to know about the medication schedule. People with chronic illnesses are likely to experience more complications and should fast only after physician consultation. Those who suffer from acidity problems need to take their regular medications at the time of Suhour.
Indulging in heavy meals at the break of fast would lead to sudden surge of blood sugars which could harm your health and cause indigestion. Deprivation of liquids can lead to dehydration and it is preferred to avoid activities which can make you sweat more. Priority should be given to rehydrate yourself at the time of Iftar with essential nutrients. Using sugary sodas and energy drink beverages can cause a sudden increase in sugar levels more than the body can handle. This can lead to indigestion and vomiting or will be metabolized to stored fat. Having balanced portions from each food group like fruits, vegetables, cereals, protein, sugar and fats is the key for a healthy Ramadan.
People suffering from Hypertension and Kidney disease
Those with well controlled blood pressure on medications may fast. Your doctor may change the medication schedule to suit the timings for fasting.
People who undergo dialysis are generally advised not to fast. Haemodialysis is a process that is done two to three times a week. The procedure involves shift of fluids and salts from the body. Although fasting is permissible in some of these circumstances, it may not be well tolerated physiologically, especially in older patients. For some patients, where it may have taken a long time to stabilize the disease, adjusting medications may not be a practical option.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor if you are suffering from any chronic illness prior to fasting to know the best course of action.
Let this Ramadan be a period of heightened Consciousness of God, Compassion, Caring and Community spirit. A healthy body needs a balance between Spiritual and Physical wellbeing. The small changes that we make, could help us to sustain a healthy life style for a very long time to come.
Dr. John Cherian Varghese
Aster Hospital, Mankhool