Dos and don’ts

By Abdellatif Sharaa

The Muslim lunar calendar is characterized with a month during which practicing Muslims fast during daylight hours for as long as 14 to 16 hours on average – it is the month of Ramadan. This practice, although a religious ritual, has many health benefits in general and can help any person -Muslim or otherwise – to have a healthy lifestyle. I would like to write about certain common habits that should not be followed when breaking the fast, and will follow with later articles about the benefits of fasting on the body.

People in this part of the world rush to drink large amounts of water as soon as it is time to break the fast, which is something very wrong. One should drink a glass of water every two hours, because filling the stomach with liquid causes more problems, including difficulty breathing, more than filling it with food. We all know that juices are rich in sugars, so it is wise to drink sensible amounts every other day and not daily.

Some young men resort to practicing sports shortly after eating, which is something that may cause an upset stomach. The right thing to do is to wait for at least two hours to allow for digestion, as the blood during this time will be concentrated around the stomach.

It is totally wrong to eat quickly; rather one must chew the food slowly, because this helps in digestion and gives the feeling of satisfaction. Desserts should not be eaten immediately after meals; rather one should wait a while to avoid drowsiness and sluggishness.

Another thing one should pay attention to is not to consume food that is rich in sodium, because this will cause severe thirst while fasting. You can avoid thirst by eating potassium-rich food, because it prevents thirst (one banana may be enough to prevent thirst during the day). A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said not eating for 16 to 18 hours every day could be a way to treat numerous health conditions, even if you have to train yourself to push past the hunger.

Studies have suggested that intermittent fasting can help reduce blood pressure, aid weight loss and improve longevity. The report serves as a roadmap for experts to prescribe fasting as a way of prevention or treatment for obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The author of the study, Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, hones in on two types: Daily time-restricted feeding, which means you eat a full meal and fast for 16-18 hours and 5:2 intermittent fasting, which means you fast two days a week.

Fasting is highly beneficial and one should practice it most of the time and not link it to religious practice or a certain time. Ramadan Mubarak. God bless you all.

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