Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar is the holy month for Muslims. Typically lasting between 29 to 30 days – based on the lunar calendar, all healthy adult Muslims are required to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset among other things to help bring them closer to God. Fasting has numerous benefits to Muslims, from the religious benefits to health benefits such as preventing health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity, as well as improve mental health and wellbeing.
This year, the holy month is different as age-old Ramadan traditions are shelved due to the pandemic. How can you get the most out of Ramadan? By being healthy and staying safe to ensure that you can do as prescribed by Islam.
The following tips will help you stay healthy and safe during this Ramadan:
Practice social distancing
A requirement in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus is the flattening of the curve and a reduction in the number of new cases. So far, no single effective treatment plan has been drafted and a vaccine is a few months away at the earliest. Thus, practising social distancing with other hygienic practices like handwashing is essential.
If you have to go out for any reason, allow for around 3 metres (or 1 feet) between you and the next person. Ensure that you are wearing a face covering and follow other necessary tips by your local health authority. If you do not need to go out, please stay in your house and observe all the necessary injunctions at home. Traditional gatherings like breaking the fast in large groups, joining your local mosque for prayers and other Islamic gatherings must be shelved at this time.
Choose healthy diets
Diets rich in the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients help in fighting disease-causing microorganisms. Prolonged periods of fasting may weaken the immunity hence it is necessary to eat a balanced diet during the hours you are allowed to eat and drink. Overexerting oneself when breaking the fast or in the early morning by overeating is not beneficial to your health. Avoid processed foods and meals high in sugar, salt or fat. Lastly, do not skip the early morning meal.
Drink plenty of water
The period of fasting may leave you dehydrated at the end of the day. If you live in a hot region of the world, you may lose more water through sweats. Ensure that you make up your water need by drinking water during the hours you are allowed to eat and drink. Water containing food items, such as watermelon, cucumber and tomato should also be added to your meals. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee or tea as they may make you urinate more, hereby losing more water and feeling dehydrated.
Get enough sleep
For adults, a period of 7 to 9 hours of sleep is advised. This may, however, be difficult to achieve in many instances especially in Ramadan when you are required to wake up early for the early morning meal (sahur). If you are fasting, get enough sleep by fitting in naps in your schedule. Good sleep helps in many ways, including keeping the immune system working at optimum levels. Exercise, as much as you can to keep your body energised and less stressed as well as to avoid unhealthy weight gain.
For pregnant women, people who are currently ill or have a chronic illness such as diabetes or hypertension, fasting is exempted for them. If you feel fine and your health condition is under control, get the go-ahead from your doctor before fasting. If you test positive for the coronavirus, you should not fast.