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How to keep your body healthy and nourished during Ramadhan

From energy foods to how you can stay hydrated, we’ve got the tips for you straight from the expert!

tomatoes (© Getty Images)

It’s really tempting to just gorge ourselves with whatever our heart desires from the Ramadhan bazaar after a day of fasting. But not so fast. This habit can be harmful to your body if you continue to do so. MSN Specials get in touch with Ms Elisha Teh, HQ Pharmacist of AEON Wellness Malaysia to share some tips on how you can look after your body during this holy month.

Tips to stay healthy and nourished during Ramadhan

tomatoes (© Getty Images)

How to keep your body hydrated during Ramadhan besides drinking a lot of water?

Avoid caffeine drinks such as Coke, coffee or tea, as caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination. As there is usually sugar in these drinks, the sudden lack of it during Ramadhan can also prompt headaches, mood swings and irritability.

I also recommend keeping cool and stay out from under the sun as this will promote perspiration and water loss.  It is also advisable to minimise consumption of high sugar or salt in food as it will dehydrate the body further, but consider fruits or fresh salads which give ample supply of water content to your body.

If you need to work out during the fasting month, it is important that you do it at a good time especially two to three hours after Iftar & to drink water before going to bed at night.

tomatoes (© Getty Images)

What are the five energy foods to consume during Ramadhan?

1. Oat & Beans

2. Grains & Cereals

3. Fruits & Vegetables 

4. Whole wheat

5. Milk & Dairy

1, 2, 3 and 4 contain complex carbohydrates which gives a constant release of energy as well as keep you feeling satiated for longer hours. Milk & dairy are rich in protein & low in sugar content, giving you a store of healthy energy source to get through the day.

tomatoes (© Getty Images)

What sort of foods best taken for Sahur and Iftar?

First of all, there is no need to consume excess food at Iftar or Sahur. The body has regulatory mechanisms that activate during fasting. There is efficient utilisation of body fat, and basal metabolism slows down during fasting. Therefore, a diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadhan.

Here are some healthy food suggestions for Sahur:

Consume a light Sahur. Eat whole wheat or oat cereal, or whole wheat bread, one to two servings with a cup of milk. Add two to three teaspoons of olive oil or any other monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats in a salad or the cereal. Eat one to two servings of fruits, as a last item.

As for Iftar, the body's immediate need at the time is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars and are sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels up to normal levels. Juice and soup also help to maintain water and mineral balance in the body. An unbalanced diet and too many servings of sherbets and sweets with added sugar have been found to be unhealthy, so skip them if you can.

tomatoes (© Getty Images)

Any types of food to avoid when fasting?

As mentioned before, try to avoid caffeine, tea and soft drinks as much as possible. Also try to avoid fruit juices which contains high contents of added sugar because it will give you a sudden spike of sugar levels in the blood which is unhealthy for long-term blood sugar control and will only give you energy for a few hours.

As for food, try to avoid the heavily processed and fast-burning foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour or fatty food like cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets.  In addition, avoid deep fried foods and look for food which are grilled, baked or steamed for a healthier alternative.

tomatoes (© Getty Images)

Can you share some tips to stay healthy during Ramadhan?

When we fast, our bodies naturally become less active because of the reduced energy that we are getting from food. Therefore, it is advisable to reduce the level of high impact exercise you perform during Ramadhan. Rather than lifting weights at the gym, consider something like yoga which will place less stress on your body and also allows you to relax during your exercise. If you need to work out or train at the gym, consider exercising after you have broken the fast.

As fasting during Ramadhan only extends from dawn until dusk, there is ample opportunity to replenish energy stores at pre-dawn and dusk meals. This provides a progressive and gentle transition from glucose to fat as the main source of energy, thereby preventing the breakdown of muscle for protein.

Balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. The kidney is very efficient at maintaining the body’s water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. However, these can be lost through sweating. To prevent muscle breakdown, meals must contain adequate levels of ‘energy food’, such as carbohydrates and some fat. Hence, a balanced diet with adequate quantities of nutrients, salts and water is vital.

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