Fasting means avoiding food for a particular time. Fasting customs are common in almost all major religions globally. There is fasting in animals too. Observation shows dogs, cats, ants, even yeast sometimes reduce their calorie intake by 40%. Fasting makes some of their physical symptoms go away and live longer.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. In this month of fasting, Muslims refrain from any food, drink, even physical pleasure from dawn to evening for a whole month. This Ramadan fast is mandatory for adult Muslims. This year the Ramadan is very different from previous years due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the new variant of the coronavirus, it is best to break your fast/have iftar at home throughout the month. Iftar parties should not be arranged. Say your prayers at home and do not go to the mosque.
Drink a lot of water after iftar. Dehydration throughout the day weakens the body's immunity. If the immunity decreases, you can get infected with coronavirus easily, and if you get infected, your body can get worse very quickly. Dehydration reduces lung mucus. Mucus protects the lungs from germ attacks. To reduce the risk of developing COVID-19, adults are advised to drink plenty of fluids and eat a balanced diet. Adequate hydration in the non-fasting hours can keep the body's first line of defence strong against germs, while following good hygiene practices.
During fasting, the deficiency of various vitamins and some micronutrients increases in the body. That is why keep fresh fruits, nuts, pulses in iftar. Eat vegetables and fish regularly in sehri. It is better to avoid oily food during iftar. Eat a bowl of salad with fresh vegetables instead of eating rice after the prayer.
There should be a balance of energy in the body to prevent diseases. As you are consuming fewer calories during the day, burn the calories by keeping a variety of food at night. If your body is weak, germs will easily control you.
When a person is fasting, autophagy takes place in the cells. It breaks down some cells, recycles different parts of the cell and strengthens them. So fasting can help you in protecting the body. The month of Ramadan is a good time for reflection.
People can think about their diet, lifestyle and mental health to modify or improve their habits, which will eventually help them to improve their overall health. Have a blessed Ramadan.
The writer is a physician in the UK.