The Holy Ramadan, the lunar month of self-purification through fasting and abstinence, will begin in the country from today as the new moon was sighted in Bangladesh sky last evening.
Muslims are meant to fast from dawn to dusk during the lunar month, a time of restraint and austerity. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five obligatory pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, annual charity -- known as "zakat" -- and performing the Hajj pilgrimage.
The health benefits of fasting were known to our forefathers several centuries ago. For this entire month, Muslims will eat a pre-dawn meal and fast until sunset as they observe the holiest of months Ramadan. This is a practice aimed at nurturing self-discipline, sacrifice and empathy for the poor or those who have less. Religion wants one to be healthy, hygienic, lively and energetic.
The Prophet Muhammad (Sm) said, ‘Fast to be healthy’. And now physicians acknowledge the benefits of fasting that ensure one’s healthy body and mind. During this month, diet should not differ very much from normal and it is better to have as simple as possible. The food should be such that we maintain our normal weight. Nevertheless, if one is over-weight, this is an ideal time to normalize the weight. The foods eaten should be well balanced. It is better to eat slow digesting foods including fiber containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 or 4 hours. Slow digesting foods are foods include wheat, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice etc. These are called complex carbohydrates. Fast-burning foods are foods that contain sugar, white flour etc. They are also known as refined carbohydrates. Eating complex carbohydrates or whole grains and balanced with green beans, spinach, fruit with skin are healthy choices. Drink water or fruit juices as much as possible between Iftar and Sehri so that body may adjust fluid levels in time. It is good to drink about 3 liters. But remember that soda or juice does not substitute water. Our bodies only absorb 50 to 60 percent of fruit juice and only 20 to 30 percent of soda. Fried foods and most fast foods available in the shops are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause heartburn- reflux, stomach upset and as well weight problems. Try to avoid too much spicy and foods that produce wind e.g. eggs, fizzy or carbonated drinks etc. Try to also keep away from fatty and foods containing too much sugar. Over-eating, especially at Sehri is a bad idea. As well as try to avoid too much tea at Sehri. Tea makes pass more urine taking with its valuable mineral salts that body would need during the day.
Fasting has advantages in getting rid of addictions and unhealthy habits. In fact, this is an ideal month to stop smoking completely and the time to regulate other habits like heavy tea/coffee usage or tobacco/betel/pan chewing. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually after iftar. And even after Ramadan continue this habit and quit permanently as smoking is injurious to health. The body’s immediate need at the time of Iftar is to get an available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are high quality sources of sugars. These are adequate to bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels in most cases. Juice and soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body. But an imbalance diet and too many servings of juices or sherbets and sweets during Iftar have been found to be unhealthy. Although the primary aim of a fasting Muslim, who is not sick is to obey the rules to religious norms, it brings in numerous health benefits as well. But for people who suffer from any medical condition that related to lot of medicine should monitor their body and physiology more closely.
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