Ramadan is a time for reflection, as well as empathy and compassion towards those who are less fortunate. It is possible to take part fully in the spirit of Ramadan without taking risks with your health.
As Ramadan takes place during the spring/summer the period of fasting is longer (on some days it will be almost 17 hours), meaning that it’s even more important to take care of your health. Dehydration is a particular risk. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Body aches
Dehydration can particularly effect people with existing medical problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Hot weather can also play a part in increasing the symptoms of exhaustion whilst fasting. Try to avoid long periods of time in the sun and remain in the shade as much as possible. Rehydrate after Iftar and before Suhoor.
It is especially important to reduce your intake of all types of caffeinated drinks. Drinking water is recommended during this period.
Be mindful of your medication
It is very important that people who take regular medication, such as for diabetes or high blood pressure, continue to take this as prescribed until they’ve spoken to their GP.
Other medicines that are suitable to take during the holy month include:
- Injections through the skin, muscles, and joints
- Ear drops and eye drops
- Patches where the medicine is absorbed through the skin.
If you have diabetes, you should continue to monitor your blood glucose levels. Your GP may also be able to change your prescription so that you don’t have to take your medication during fasting hours.
If you are unsure about your medication, speak to your GP or pharmacist.
During the non-fasting hours it is important that you have a balanced diet, to keep your body functioning during the fasting hours. Foods that release energy slowly such as starchy carbohydrates and protein will help to maintain energy levels.
The NHS Livewell website is a good tool for meal ideas and includes tips on how to use ingredients from the five major food groups:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Starchy foods (carbohydrates) such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta - choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can, or eat potatoes with their skin on for more fibre
- Meat, fish, eggs and beans (protein)
- Milk and dairy foods
- Foods containing fat and sugar.
For smokers, Ramadan could be a great opportunity to quit for good. It might seem daunting, but help is available. The local Newham Stop Smoking service offers up to 12 weeks of free one-to-one support from a trained stop smoking advisor.
The best way to protect yourself and your family from the 4,000 harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke is to stop smoking completely. Everyone around you can be affected by your smoking, particularly children, and the effects are often hidden until they become more serious.