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, causing digestive issues such as indigestion, bloating, heartburn, stomach acidity and constipation.
These conditions can be addressed with some simple guidelines, says Dr. Khalid Osman Elamin Elsayed , Consultant – Gastroenterology, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi. He gives us some important points to consider when it comes to maintain digestive health during Ramadan.
Digestive disorders caused during Ramadan can be attributed to a variety of reasons such as overeating during iftar (meal after sunset), not drinking enough fluids, sleeping immediately after suhoor (meal before dawn), eating oily, fried or spicy foods and drinking too many caffeinated beverages.
Fasting during the day can cause dehydration during summer months. It’s advisable to stay well-hydrated during non-fasting hours to counteract it. Cut down on the consumption of caffeinated beverages in 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 consuming 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 regimen to keep your body’s metabolism running smoothly. Avoid intense cardio activity and go for moderate-paced walks an hour before sunrise or sunset. This will keep you in good spirits as well, as exercise helps both the body and mind.