Preparing Your Body for Ramadan

Part 1

{O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.} (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:183).

The Muslim world is welcoming a very dear guest, the holy month of Ramadan, the month of auspicious blessings

Having awareness of how to prepare our bodies physiologically and our daily diets for the month of fasting is highly essential for enhancement of functions of our organs and their internal processes.

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Do you feel shell-shocked for having Ramadan around the corner? Looking for tips to get your health in order before Ramadan? Having bad sleeping habits and want this fixed before Ramadan?

To tackle this important topic, Dr. Amira Ayad, a pharmacist, nutrition specialist and natural health consultant provides answers to all these questions.

Q: I want to fast in some few scattered days before Ramadan. Could this cause fatigue to me before Ramadan or it will help me to get used to fasting?

A: On the contrary, fasting a few days before Ramadan, beside being Sunnah of the Prophet PBUH who used to fast a lot during the month of Sha’aban, will help your body get used to the process and your physiology to adapt to the changing in eating pattern.

Q: I suffer from Type II Diabetes , how can I prepare myself for Ramadan fasting?

A: The most important factor in type II Diabetes in controlling blood sugar level (BSL).

I’m not sure about the dosage and timing of your medication, but, I guess like most of type II diabetes patient, you take your medication once or twice a day. In this case, it would be no problem to gradually shift the time of the medication to be at the time of suhoor and Iftar.

If you take your medicine more than twice a day or you suffer from any other complications please consult your physician first before undergoing any changes.

Second, you should concentrate your carbohydrate intake on what we call low glycemic index foods. These are the carbohydrates that slowly release glucose in the blood like whole wheat, barley, brown rice, beans and legumes.

Avoid simple sugars and refined carbohydrates like white flour, syrups… which cause rapid rise in BSL and pauses stress on your pancreas.

Eat lots of fresh green vegetables, berries and add cinnamon to your desserts, 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon a day is proven to help balance BSL. Consume adequate amount of protein with each meal (20-30%) of your diet. Alternate between vegetable sources (like legumes, nuts, and beans), meat poultry and fish. Make sure your diet contains lots of fiber as they are known to stabilize and balance your BSL.

Other foods that help stabilize BSL include berries, brewer’s yeast (great source of B vitamins), dairy especially cheese, egg yolk, fish, garlic, kelp, beans and vegetables (not root or starchy vegetables).

Finally, always keep something sweet handy and if at any time of the day you feel any sign of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) like dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea… don’t hesitate to break your fast as your body is sending you a warning signal.

Q: Shall we decrease the number of our practices and activities during Ramadan summery daytime to avoid dehydration?

A: This is a purely individual concept. Many people withstand hard work and labor with no signs of thirst or dehydration, while others couldn’t. The most important thing is to listen to your body signals and trust them.

Of course avoid over exertion and too much sun and heat exposure, but, in general, most healthy individuals do not require any special consideration during fasting. Just insure getting enough water, juices and herbal teas during iftar and suhoor and avoid dehydrating drinks like coffee and tea.

Q: Do I have to decrease the food quantities I eat before Ramadan in order not to feel hungry during fasting?

A: I am not sure how much and how frequently you eat now. What I advice is moderation. Eat at regular timing, avoid snacking in between meals and shift to healthy whole food alternatives. This simple change in habits is advisable throughout the year, so it is good to start a practice and try to keep it up.

The most important thing, though, is to focus on quality of food to make sure you get all the required nutrients from your diet. You shouldn’t starve yourself, feel hungry or deprived, if this is the case, this means your body is not getting its full nutritional needs.

This article is from our archive, originally published on an earlier date, and highlighted now for its importance

About Amira Ayad
Amira Ayad is a natural health consultant and a holistic nutritionist. She holds a Master Degree in Pharmaceutics; and a PhD in natural health. She is a Board Certified Holistic Health practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) and a Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner by the International organization of Nutrition Consultants (IONC). She published 2 books: Healing Body & Soul, in 2008; and, The True Secret, in 2011. Amira teaches Biochemistry & Body Metabolism at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, Canada.