Guidelines to remain healthy during Ramzan. There are simple things that you can do to prepare for the fast, and to break it without stressing your body.

Ramzan, a holy period of purity, prosperity, faith, love and care, is observed every ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time for spiritual purification which is achieved through fasting, self-sacrifice and prayers. Through fasting, a Muslim experiences hunger and thirst, and sympathises with those in the world, who have little to eat everyday. Fasting is an exercise in self-discipline. The purpose of fasting is not simply to refrain from eating and drinking but abstaining from indulging in prohibited acts. One is allowed only two meals, one at pre dawn (Sahur) and the next at the break of dusk (Iftar).

Though, body toxins get cleansed and the excess body fat is efficiently utilised during fasting, but problems like increased gastric acidity, a sour mouth or constipation can crop up due to regular fasting. Further, people feel lethargic and fatigued during this period as the body gets deprived of necessary nutrients, vitamins and carbohydrates. People suffering from coronary heart disease, kidney stones, blood pressure and high blood sugar can face certain health complications as well. However, these problems can be addressed if one were to follow easy tips as prescribed inUnani system of medicine. Some broad guidelines are as follows:

Pre-dawn Meal

A a light meal must be consumed to avoid constipation and formation of acid or gastritis. It should include food that provides energy and nutrition. You can take a bowl of whole wheat bread or oat cereal with 1-2 cups of milk, it provides protein, calcium, carbohydrate and salt. This can be followed with a few fruits. Avoid eating banana and guava in Sahur.

Or, take a bowl of salad or whole wheat cereals followed by a glass of milk with 2-3 tsps of olive oil in it. Fruits can be added in the end. A meal consisting of two slices of whole wheat bread, 1 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of vegetable salad with two tsp corn oil and two tsp vinegar is good. Add one skinned apple, and 2 tsp sugar with tea or coffee to the diet.

Another diet which provides energy and increases body metabolism is 2-3 chuara or dry dates with a glass of milk. These dry dates should be soaked in milk overnight. This helps to avoid constipation and hyperacidity.

At the Iftar meal at dusk, the body is dehydrated, acids and gas are at high par, the energy level is reduced, and body temperament is usually hot and dry. Thus, immediate consumption of a heavy meal should be avoided. It is recommended to open your fast with a glass of fresh fruit juice, lassi or coconut water. This cools the body temperament, provides energy to the body and normalises the metabolic rate. Here are a few options that one could try:

Fresh juice of orange, pomegranate or sugarcane with dry dates is a good source of sugar to provide energy, minerals and essential nutrition. One can even open the fast with a cup of vegetable soup and two plain bread crumbs.

After opening the fast with juices or semi solid food, avoid eating for one-and-half hours. Maintain a light diet only. One can also have fruits with a glass of lassi or coconut water. It should be followed by a light meal prepared with less oil and spices, so that it is easy to digest. You can take 1-2 servings of chicken, mutton or fish, with green peas, green gram, black gram, and beans. Meat and beans are a good source of protein, minerals, and certain vitamins.

Combination of two servings of whole wheat bread or one cup cooked rice is a good source of carbohydrates, which provide energy and protein, minerals, and dietary fibre. Also, one must include a vegetable in the daily diet, as it contains many nutrients essential for the body, especially salt. This helps in proper functioning of the brain and metabolic cycle. Vegetables that can be cooked are bitter gourd, green beans, lady finger, bottle gourd, or eggplant. A salad of lettuce, carrot, parsley, cucumber, broccoli, coriander leaves, and cauliflower can be taken as well. These are a good source of dietary fibre, Vitamin A, and other antioxidants.

Before going to bed, have a glass of lassi without sugar or one cup yogurt, it helps to maintain the protein and calcium consistency for the next day. These nutrients are essential for body tissue maintenance and several physiological functions.

Citrus fruits like mango, lemon, sweet lime, orange, grapes and pineapple is a must during Sahur and Iftar to fight constipation and gastritis. Last but not the least, take three litres of water per day.

(The author is in-charge, Board of Physicians, Hamdard (WAKF) Laboratories)

Keywords: RamzanfastingHamdard