By Mudassir Raja
There is no doubt in that the holy month of Ramadan is a time of test for Muslims. It is, however, important for those who fast to keep themselves healthy. Keeping in mind the hot summer days and long fasting hours, it is pertinent for those who fast to keep themselves hydrated.
Discussions with different expert dieticians and medical practitioners have revealed that maintaining high fluid levels plays an important role in staying healthy during Ramadan. They say that water is one of the most important components of the human body representing between 60 to 70 percent of the human body weight and water also plays an important role in the vital performance of many body systems and organs.
Water is key in maintaining the balance of electrolytes within the body. It is also necessary for absorption of many nutrients. Water also provides a suitable environment for a lot of chemical reactions within the body. According to the experts, men and women should drink 3.7 litres and 2.7 litres of water respectively every day.
Doctors stress that in Ramadan it is necessary to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Water, juices and soups, as well as vegetables and fruits, are good sources of fluids for the body.
However, a fasting person should drink extra water because it contains no calories and could compensate for the body’s fluids lost due to fasting.
Other calorie-rich drinks can cause weight gain and stimulant drinks such as coffee and tea can increase fluid loss because they are diuretics. Eating meals high in salt and hot spices may increase thirst and the body’s need for water, therefore eating such foods are not recommended at Suhoor as they may cause extreme thirst during fasting.
Experts suggest some ways to stay hydrated during Ramadan. They urge on the fasting people to back away from the juice. During Ramadan, those who fast fight a constant battle against thirst from dawn to dusk. Do not drink juice to break the fast. A lot of people focus on juices because they are culturally used to breaking their fast with two glasses of juice, but that’s what causes weight gain.
According to the experts, people who fast need to intake good amount of water both at Iftar and Suhoor. Water is better for hydration and essential for almost all major body functions, including helping dissolve minerals and other nutrients from food to make them accessible to the body.
Another piece of advice is to have at least two glasses of water at every Suhoor. It helps in staying hydrated during the long fasting hours.
At Iftar, one should break the fast every night with one or two glasses of water and a few dates. Breaking the fast with dates is not only tradition because that is how the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] broke his fast; dates also help with hydration since they are a natural source of glucose, which encourage the cells to store fluid and fuel for energy.
It is also helpful if one carries one litre bottle of water while going for nighttime prayers. The water bottle should be carried out wherever one goes at night.
Furthermore, it is necessary to keep water by the bed. One needs to sip continuously though the night.
There is no point in chugging four glasses of water in a row. The fasting people need to make sure that they continue to sip water throughout the night.
It is also recommended that food with higher water content also helps in keeping one hydrated during Ramadan. Foods like cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, apples, and spinach help you stay hydrated. So at Iftar, make a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Make smoothies for Suhoor with hydrating ingredients like watermelon or strawberries. Having an apple in Suhoor helps in getting fluids during the fasting hours.
If possible, minimise sweat. One need to avoid working out in hot and humid conditions for long hours. It is also recommended to avoid strenuous exercise while fasting for Ramadan.
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