The holy month of Ramadan is upon us and this year it is expected to begin on March 22 and end on April 21. Eid al-Fitr will be celebrated on April 22 or 23 with the sighting of the moon. Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is a time of spiritual reflection and self-improvement, and Muslims around the world fast from dawn to sunset. Fasting for 12-14 hours during Ramadan is a form of intermittent fasting and is also an opportunity for people to reset their digestive system, boost metabolism and lose weight. (Also Read: Saudi identity change in full swing ahead of Ramadan)
Recent scientific research has proven the benefits of intermittent fasting, such as weight management and blood sugar management. This is the best way to keep a person in a calorie deficit, but people should be cautious about what they are eating when they are not fasting.
“Ramadan fast is broken with dates, one of the most nutritious dry fruits. Therefore, to avoid dehydration and gastric problems, it is always advised to eat a diet rich in protein and fiber which keeps the stomach full for longer,” says. Shweta Gupta, Unit Head – Dietetics – Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is practiced in various ways, such as the 5:2 method, 16/8 time restricted diet, alternate day fasting and some other methods. Ramadan fasting is also a type of intermittent fasting, however, there is a fasting period. Water and food are completely withheld for more than 12-14 hours. This leads to depletion of liver glycogen stores,” says Dr Meghna Passi, nutrition consultant at MyThali, Arogya World.
Benefits of Ramadan
Dr Pasi elaborates on the benefits of IF during Ramadan:
1. Supports weight loss and improves health: Calorie deficit diets and eating patterns can help you lose weight and lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar and protect brain health.
2. Detoxifies the body: Our digestive system is able to eliminate toxins because the system gets enough rest during fasting.
3. Damaged cells Removed by a self-cleaning process and the stomach feels happy and healthy.
4. Metabolic rate Grows and strengthens our immune system. However, one can only benefit from fasting during Ramadan, if one eats healthy food during the period of the festival. As in any other IF that focuses on how to eat and not what to eat, not following a healthy diet during Ramadan can have negative effects on health.
Dr. Anurag Saxena, HOD- Internal Medicine, Primus Hospital, New Delhi elaborates on the health benefits of intermittent fasting during Ramadan.
5. Focus and mental clarity are improved: Due to changes in eating habits and stress placed on spiritual practices, some people claim that Ramadan makes them feel more focused and alert.
6. Improved Digestive Health: It has been shown that fasting improves digestive health by enabling the digestive system to rest and recover. The benefits of fasting generally depend on the length and timing of the fast. Allowing three hours between meals allows the migrating motor complex to complete a complete cycle in which residual undigested material flows into the digestive system. As a result, even a few hours of fasting can help digestion.
Dr Pasi suggests healthy fasting tips to follow during the month of Ramadan.
– Do not overload on food When breaking the fast. Your body needs more fluids first. So, break your fast with lemon juice or coconut water for hydration. Avoid caffeine.
– Eating foods high in calories, sugar and oil May cause indigestion and gastric problems. Try and avoid sweets, desserts, sugary drinks and bakery products.
– Your Iftar meal Must be a source of complex carbohydrates that provide adequate energy along with fiber and minerals.
– Fill half your plate Colorful vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and provide nutrients with very few calories.
– Eat a good amount of protein foods Such as pulses, whole grains, lean meat, fish, dairy products and eggs.
– Prefer fruit, a handful of nuts or a salad as a snack. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber not only keeps our gut healthy but also regulates blood glucose levels.
– Some healthy food options: Broccoli-egg fritters, homemade pita bread dipped in olive oil, black beans and avocado on toast, lentil soup, low-fat yogurt, fruit smoothies, grilled kebabs, baked snacks like samosas and dates instead. Oat Kheer, Chopped Fruits, Roasted Vegetables, Bajra Khichdi, Curd Rice, Sprouts Salad.
If you plan your meals in advance and pay attention to portion sizes, you can definitely benefit from Ramadan’s intermittent fasting regime and reap the maximum nutritional benefits.
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