Ramadan Food Tips:

Ramadan is a sacred month in the Hijri lunar calendar, the time of the year when healthy adult Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. For 30 consecutive days, many of the 1.8 billion Muslims around the globe fast and contentedly feast on a predawn meal after the sun goes down. What is the aftermath of fasting and feasting on the same day?

Ramadan fasting has significant health benefits and some negative outcomes too if not done the right way. Ramadan fasting has long been linked with complexities such as gastritis (an inflammation in the lining of the stomach) and Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD) - a breach of the mucosal surface of the digestive tract which is a result of imbalance between gastric acid secretion and the gastrointestinal tract, but the odds can be mitigated if suitable precautions are taken.

Ramadan fasting is associated with increasing peptic ulcer complications (peptic ulcer perforation and bleeding) and have a detrimental impact on patients health. Healthy individuals who fast during the holy month are likely to experience minor GI symptoms but not as severe as ones with eating disorder or gastritis. Complexities such as acute mesenteric ischemia, hyperemesis gravidarum and primary small bowel volvulus drastically surge during Ramadan.

Dos and Don’ts of Ramadan Fasting

Individual who suffer from gastritis and peptic ulcer disease must take extra care during Ramadan days.

•    Excessive exposure to a class of painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and high dose steroids increase odds of gastritis. Also, alcohol consumption and excessive smoking are the key contributors of gastritis and PUD.

•    Emotional and physical stress may up odds of ulcers in the stomach.

•    In general, patients experience dyspepsia, which causes uneasiness below the ribs. Acid reflux in association with these conditions is again very common.

•    One widespread habit that individuals practice is sleeping right after suhur, thereby increasing the risk of acid reflux. One must eat three to four hours before going to bed.

•    Another widespread practice is overeating during suhur, which is followed by smoking. This habit has been associated with increased risk of dyspepsia and acid reflux for gastritis/PUD among individuals.

•    Take smaller portions of food.

•    Refrain from over-the-counter drugs.

•    Persistent nausea and vomiting, blood in vomiting and black tarry stool along with abdominal pain are again bad signs.

•    Paleness in the complexion, especially at the face and palms, is a sign of anaemia.

Caution Urged over Oily Food Consumption during Ramadan

Say No to these Foods:

•    Oily, hot and spicy, fat-laden, acid-containing foods and citrus fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges and tomatoes. 

•    Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, sodas etc. tend to increase urination, thereby resulting in dehydration. Increase intake of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, fibres etc.

•    Restrict sugar and refined carbohydrates intake.

•    Smoking is associated with gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. So, Ramadan is a very good time to cut down on cigarettes. Smoking also interrupts the healing of existing ulcers and contributes to ulcer relapse.

•    Must intake carbohydrates or slow-digesting food at suhur so that the food lasts longer, reduces hungry pangs and boosts energy.

•    Dates are rich in sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.

•    Almonds are an excellent source of protein and fibre.

•    Intake of bananas, which are rich in carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.

•    One should prefer oven-grilled foods over fried and fatty foods.

•    Stick to consuming smaller quantities, and break the fast early.

•    Remember to take your prescribed medications during suhur.

•    It is important to drink a full glass of fresh milk during break of fast as it holds potential in managing gastritis and PUD.

Research studies have revealed that stomach acidity levels peak during the noon, individuals must take note of symptoms and complications. One may experience subtle changes that should be observed are pale complexions (especially in the inner eyelids and palms) and changes in weight and appetite. It is important to seek doctor’s advice before or during Ramadan if any medical concerns persist.

Ramadan Is Here. How to Prevent Post-Iftar Feasting Gastritis

1. Beans and lentils

Beans-lentils

Beans, lentils and peas are very good sources of soluble fibre which are potent in reducing cholesterol levels and boosting digestion. Beans and pulses are high in fibre, high in protein and have low fat. Beans also contain lecithin, a nutrient which holds potential in mitigating cholesterol levels.

2. Fatty Fish (Omega-3) and Salmon

Fatty fish like Salmon, Tuna, and Halibut are very good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that potentially keep heart diseases at bay. It also improves the blood cholesterol profile by mitigating the Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Remember not to deep fry; it is healthy when it is baked or grilled.

3. Grains and Oats

Oats and oat bran, barley and brown rice are rich insoluble fibre which potentially binds to bile acids and open avenues for reduction of cholesterol levels. They are also known to be good metabolism boosters.

4. Walnuts and pistachios

Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios contain plant sterols and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are effective in lowering the bad cholesterol. They are also a good source of fibre, Vitamin E and Selenium.

5. Blueberries, cranberries and apples

Apples and cranberries are a good source of Pectin (fibre), powerful antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid that are potential in mitigating LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and help escalate good levels of cholesterol.

Blueberries, Cranberries and Grapes, safeguard LDL Cholesterol from being impaired.

6. Avocado 

Avocados are an excellent source of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is potent in reducing cholesterol.

7. Sesame seeds

 Sesame seeds contain phytosterols that help mitigate LDL (bad) Cholesterol levels considerably.

8. Prunes 

Prunes are rich in antioxidants and fibre, which potentially mitigate Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and maintains the digestive functions.

9. Dates

Dates are a rich source of fibre, sugar, magnesium, potassium, and have carbohydrates which hold potential in maintaining the health of the body. The carbohydrates found in dates also make the fruit a slower digesting food, much better than fried or fatty foods which digest fast and leave one hungry for more.

10. Water

Drinking 2.5 to 3 litres of water holds potential in replenishing the daily losses, which is lost via breathing, perspiration and urination.

Have a Happy and Healthy Fasting!