Fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan is an important spiritual practice. The fasting culminates in festivities and feasts involving family and friends. This can often lead to overeating, which can cause indigestion, bloating, heartburn, stomach acidity and constipation. Enjoy digestive health during the Holy Month with these simple tips.
These conditions can be addressed with some simple guidelines, says Dr Khalid Osman Elamin Elsayed, a gastroenterology consultant at Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Hospital. There’s also a Burjeel Medical Centre in Muscat.
Here, Dr Khalid details some important points to consider when it comes to maintaining good digestive health during Ramadan:
Digestive disorders caused during Ramadan can be attributed to a variety of reasons such as overeating during Iftar (the meal after sunset), not drinking enough fluids, sleeping immediately after Suhoor (the meal before dawn), eating oily, fried or spicy foods and drinking too many caffeinated beverages.
Fasting during the day can cause dehydration during the summer months. It’s advisable to stay well-hydrated during non-fasting hours to counteract this. Cut down on caffeinated beverages during this period, as they can have a diuretic effect, causing further water loss. Caffeine is linked to heartburn, and is best avoided after prolonged fasting. Citrus juices can also cause heartburn so stay away from them if you are prone to acidity. Drink gentle, herbal teas that soothe the nerves, or have digestive benefits.
At Iftar, avoid sugar-rich and fatty foods, which can disturb the metabolism and cause dizziness, headaches and fatigue. Eat small portions of food; yoghurt, water and a few dates are good options when you break your fast. Wait for around 10-20 minutes before you have your main meal, which should include complex carbohydrates, protein and good fats. Eat fruit, such as apples and avocadoes, that are rich in nutrients.
Avoid eating your food in a hurry, as it can cause gas to build up in the stomach, causing cramps and even constipation. Eat slowly and chew your food well, as undigested food can lead to bloating and constipation. Make sure to eat figs, and drink lemonade with mint, or peppermint tea to keep your digestion smooth.
Include moderate activity into your Ramadan regime to keep your body’s metabolism running smoothly. Avoid intense cardio activity and instead go for moderate-paced walks an hour before sunrise or sunset. This will keep you in good spirits as exercise helps both the body and mind.