New Delhi: The ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar Ramadan has arrived, which is considered to be the holiest month by Muslims across the globe. During this time, they observe fast from dawn to dusk and devote time in building connection with the almighty god through prayer and charity. It is also a month of self-reflection and spiritual growth. While fasting or keeping rozas is one of the major components of Ramadan, there are numerous health benefits of it as well.
Health benefits of Fasting in Ramadan
Muslims fast from before sunrise till dusk for the entire month of Ramadan. During this time, they neither drink or eat anything. Keeping rozas or fasting can prove to be a much-needed natural detox for your digestive system.
NATURAL BODY DETOX
“Ramadan is the best time to naturally detox the body and start a healthy lifestyle. Fasting from dawn to sunset requires no intake of water, food or even a chewing gum, which allows the body to rest and forces the body to use stored energy, thus allowing faster metabolic movement, which allows weight loss, purifies gut and helps to reduce oxidative stress and body inflammation,” explains Nutritionist Pritika Bedi, Founder Healthsake.
GOOD FOR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Fasting is also beneficial for your immune system as during this time, “the depletion of white blood cells induces changes that stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells,” shares Shalini Garwin Bliss, Executive dietician, Manipal Hospital Gurugram.
Fasting rejuvenates and cleanses the digestive system as it detoxifies the body in getting rid of harmful toxins in the body.
GOOD FOR METABOLISM
Shalini Garwin Bliss says fasting is also beneficial for our metabolism. “Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is improved by fasting. Which in turn helps in reducing the excess body fat and one can reach the normal BMI”.
When fasting, insulin and growth hormone are in a non-fed state. When insulin goes down it allows the body to access and utilize fat as fuel, thus improving metabolism.
FOODS TO EAT DURING SEHRI AND IFTAR
While fasting has numerous health benefits, it can sometimes be tedious for the body to stay without food and water for long periods of time in this scorching heat especially. There are various items that people indulge in at the time of sehri (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (dusk meal) that are not beneficial for health.
According to experts,high-protein and high-fiber foods should be included during sehri and iftar. These food items are slow energy releasing and keeps one full and satiated for longer. On the other hand, too much sugar and other simple carbohydrates, like white bread, cause blood sugar to spike, giving an instant feeling of fullness but followed by a crash that leaves us feeling hungrier.
Minal Shah, Senior Nutrition Therapist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund share food items to include in during sehri and iftar:
- Add protein to your diet as it is required for providing strength and maintaining immunity. Sources of protein include Eggs, Chicken, Paneer, nuts, nut butter, and legumes
- Include complex carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. They keeps one full for a longer period of time.
- Also, fiber is required to keep your digestive system healthy and maintain good bowel movements to avoid constipation. Some of the good sources of fiber include Oats, whole Wheat, vegetables, whole fruits and pulses
- Ensure adequate hydration and maintain electrolytes by including fruit juices, vegetable soups, coconut water, lemon juice, milkshakes etc. along with the meals
FOODS TO AVOID DURING SEHRI AND IFTAR
Nutritionists Shalini Garwin and Minal Shah share:
- Avoid spicy and fatty foods as it will irritate the digestive system and can cause acid formation.
- Carbonated drinks: Caffeine and carbonated drinks are dehydrators, especially since a person cannot even consume water during the fasting period, Caffeine and carbonated drinks can increase your thirst and trigger Insomnia.
- Avoid consumption of tea and coffee as it will cause acidity.
- Avoid deep fried food items as the fat makes the food too difficult to digest and can cause irritation of the digestive system causing acidity and acid reflux. Salt also stimulates thirst and so it’s a good idea to avoid consuming a lot of salty food.
- Avoid adding too much of sugar in fruit chaat as it will spike your sugar level which will make you feel sleepy and drowsy. It’s always better to enjoy the natural sugars of fresh fruit.