Take care fasting during long Ramadan month

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A Luton GP is calling on the Muslim community to take care of their health and to think about what they eat during the holy month of Ramadan.

Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting for 29 or 30 days, during which followers do not eat or drink during daylight hours. This year, Ramadan is expected to either fall on the 26th or 27th May and due to the long daylight hours during summer it is expected to be the longest in 32 years. This means in Luton Muslims will be fasting longer than many other people from around the world.

Dr Uzma Sarwar said, “Ramadan is a time for spiritual enlightenment. Many of us will use this period to reflect, meditate and contemplate the year gone by and the year ahead.

“This year, the fast will last up to 18 hours a day in Luton and with hot weather expected, it is important that people in the region look after their health and think about what they eat and drink as they observe the holy month”.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Those taking part will eat one meal just before dawn and another after sunset. Throughout the month special prayers are also conducted nightly. During Ramadan Muslims are obligated to give to those in need. Last year in the UK Muslims raised £100 million for charity.

Dr Uzma Sarwar continued, “With sleep deprivation and the lack of food and water it is important to know what to eat during non-fasting hours for good health and endurance during the entire month. Try eating slowly, choose digestible and absorbable foods which are rich in fibre such as complex carbohydrates, - bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and whole wheat grains.

“Our body is made of 60-70% water and dehydration can cause undesirable side effects such as constipation, headaches, dizziness, tiredness and dry skin. It is, therefore, important to drink small quantities of water throughout the night. If you require additional hydration, then combine water with oral re-hydration salts or hydration tablets. If you are unsure about which product to use, speak to your local pharmacist.

“Popular during Ramadan are foods such as samosa and fritters but it is important that we try to minimise the consumption of deep-fried foods, and those high in sugar and fat.”

On weight loss Dr Uzma Sarwar said, “Fasting in Ramadan can lead to weight loss and can have great health benefits like - reduced cholesterol level, better control of diabetes and reduction in blood pressure but it is important that we continue with a healthy balanced diet after Ramadan to keep the weight off.

“If you are on medication, frail or have a long term medical condition, for example type 1 diabetes, it is permissible to not take part in the fast and fasting is not recommended for pregnant women, or young children. If you are unsure about whether you should be fasting, please seek advice from your GP”.

If you do feel unwell during Ramadan please see your local GP or call NHS 111. For more guide on having a healthy Ramadan, visit NHS Choices http://bit.ly/1PtthL0