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LANALLAH __Islamic BlogZine__
Monday, October 03, 2005

Some Health Guidelines for Ramadhaan


How fortunate we are to be the Ummat of Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallum. One of the miracles handed down to us is the month of Ramadhaan. Our Allah Subahanahu Watha'ala, who created us, has granted us a way in which we can cleanse ourselves, physically as well as spiritually. This extra ordinary month will only be of benefit to those of us who take advantage of it. Allah Subahanahu Watha'ala has promised us rewards during this month beyond our expectations, only limited by his generosity and mercy. And we know that Allah Subahanahu Watha'ala is most generous and most merciful.

Here is some useful advice on how to avoid common problems that occur during
Ramadhaan. If followed, it would enable one to fast comfortably and enjoy fully the spiritual benefits of Ramadhaan. Ramadhaan is a time of Ibadat. Hunger and thirst can cause us to lose the purpose of Ramadhaan.

Detox yourself

If you are in the habit of drinking many cups of tea or coffee or caffeine -containing drinks during the day, please start reducing over a period of 1-2 weeks before Ramadhaan.
Tea and coffee contain caffeine, an addictive substance that causes severe headaches on withdrawal.
If you are a smoker, please start reducing 1-2 weeks before Ramadhaan. Ramadhaan is an ideal month to stop smoking completely.


The foods we eat

During Ramadhaan, our diet should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that we maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is over-weight, Ramadhaan is an ideal time to normalize one's weight. In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume slow digesting foods including fibre foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last between 8-12 hours, while fast digesting foods last for only 2-4 hours.

Slow-digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds like barley,
wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, etc; whole meal flour; whole meal
pasta; unpolished rice; etc (called complex carbohydrates).


Fast-digesting foods are foods that contain sugar, white flour, white rice,
white pasta, etc. (called refined carbohydrates).


Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods, like cereals; whole wheat or whole meal flour; grains and seeds, like beans and lentils; vegetables like green beans, peas, sem (papry), marrow, mealies, spinach, methie, leaves of beetroot (iron rich), etc.; fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs, prunes, etc.; and nuts like almonds; etc.
The foods should be well-balanced, containing foods from each food group, i.e.,
fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Foods from each food group should be eaten daily.


Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart burn, weight problems and blocking of arteries especially in the heart and brain.

AVOID

fried and fatty foods.
Spicy foods and sauces.
Foods containing too much sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Over-eating at Sehrie (Suhur) and Iftaar.
Caffiene-containing drinks like tea, coffee, colas, etc. Tea makes you pass
more urine taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need
during the long day of fasting.
Smoking.


EAT

· Complex Carbohydrates at Sehri (Suhur) so that the food lasts longer making
you less hungry. (Muesli, bran-containing cereals, whole meal or brown
bread, beans, lentils,etc.)
· Haleem, a soup made from barley and wheat is an excellent source of slowburning
food and protein.
· Dates are an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and
magnesium.
· Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat. Ground almonds and milk
make a healthy drink.
· Bananas are a good source of carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
· Eat oven-grilled samoosas rather than fried samoosas.


DRINK

Drink as much water, sports drinks, containing potassium or fruit juices as possible
between Iftaar and bedtime so that your body may adjust fluid levels for the next day.


Some Problems

Constipation

Constipation can cause piles (haemorrhoids), fissures (painful cracks in anal canal) and indigestion with a bloated feeling.

Causes: Too much refined carbohydrates, too little water and not enough fibre in
the diet.


Remedy: Increase fibre intake and complex carbohydrates, increase water intake,use bran for baking, use brown flour when making bread (roti).

Indigestion and "Wind"

Causes: Over-eating. Too much fried and fatty foods, spicy foods and foods that
produce wind, e.g., eggs, cabbage, lentils, beans, carbonated drinks, etc.


Remedy: Do not over-eat, drink adequate amounts of water and fruit juices. Avoid fried and fatty foods. Add tymol or celery seeds (ajmor) to lentils and beans to lessen wind production.

Lethargy ("Low blood pressure")

Weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness especially on getting up from a lying or sitting position, pale appearance and feeling faint, are symptoms associated with low blood pressure. This tends to occur at the end of the day when Ibadah is so important.

Causes: Too little fluid intake, decreased salt intake, not eating enough at Sehri and Iftaar.

Remedy: Increase fluid and salt intake. Eat enough to sustain you through the next day. Drink at least 1 litre of sports drinks between Iftaar and bedtime.

Caution: Low blood pressure should be confirmed by taking a reading when symptoms are present. Persons with high blood pressure may need their medication adjusted for the month of Ramadhaan. Diuretics should be avoided.

Headaches

Causes: Caffiene and tobacco withdrawal, doing too much during the day, lack of sleep, hunger (usually occurs at the end of the day), stress, etc.

Remedy: Cut down or stop caffeine containing drinks 1-2 weeks before Ramadhaan. Herbal teas and caffeine-free coffee may be substituted. Re-organise your schedule so as to have adequate time to do the necessary things and to have adequate rest and sleep.

Low Blood Sugar

Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, feeling shaky (tremor), unable to do physical activities, headache, palpitations are symptoms of low blood sugar.

Causes: Consuming too much sugar-containing foods, i.e., refined
carbohydrates especially at sehri (suhur).


Remedy: Limit sugar-containing foods and drinks at sehri (suhur). Eat more
complex carbohydrates. This applies to non-diabetics. Diabetics will need to adjust their medications during Ramadhaan. Please consult your doctor.


Muscle Cramps

Causes: Inadequate intake of calcium or magnesium-containing foods.

Remedy: Eat foods rich in above minerals, e.g., fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat dried fruit and dates.

Caution: Those on high blood pressure medication or those prone to kidney stones should consult their doctor.

Heartburn, Gastritis, Hiatus Hernia and "Peptic Ulcers"

Causes: Increased acid levels in an empty stomach during Ramadhaan can
aggravate the above conditions. It presents as a burning pain in the
stomach area and under the ribs radiating up the chest to the throat.
Spicy foods, especially sauces, coffee and Cola drinks, fatty and fried
foods.


Remedy: Avoid all the above foods. Do not over-eat. Have small meals rather than one big meal, e.g., small Iftaar and a snack after Taraweeh salaah.
Medications are available (PPIs) to control acid levels in the stomach.
These should be taken daily for the whole month of Ramadhaan.


Kidney Stones

Kidney stones may not present themselves for months to years after they are formed.

Causes: Some people have a tendency to produce stones in the kidney. Other
causes include not drinking enough liquids to flush out the kidneys.


Remedy: Drink excessive amounts of liquid between Iftaar and bedtime. Those
prone to kidney stones must also decrease their calcium intake, e.g., dairy
products.


Joint Pains

Causes: During Ramadhaan, when extra salaah are performed, the pressure on the knee joints increases. In the elderly, and those with arthritis, this may
result in pain, stiffness, swelling and discomfort.


Remedy: Lose weight so that the knees do not have to carry extra loads. Exercise the lower limbs before Ramadhaan (walking 30-45 minutes 3 times a week) so that they can be prepared for the additional strain. Being physically fit
allows greater fulfillment of physical obligations thereby enabling one to
be able to perform salaah with ease.


Dr. Farouk Haffejee
drh@rrmc.co.za for further information.
Islamic Medical Association of South Africa
P O Box 48786,
Qualbert,
Durban, 4078
SOUTH AFRICA
031 - 207 2250 Fax: 031 - 207 2260


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