9 July 2013 – London / Dubai / Kuala Lumpur
International SOS is offering seven key tips to stay healthy during Ramadan, by learning how to adapt to new daily routines.
International SOS is the world's leading medical and security services company. Dr Issam Badaoui, Medical Director for the Middle East Region offered this advice:
“There are many different views of best practice for Ramadan. However, from a medical perspective it is most important to stay healthy at all times. Staying hydrated is key, especially during the Summer, but one should also consider food types and get plenty of rest. Adapting to new routines should be a gradual process so that the body does not react negatively to sudden changes”
Dr Alan Tan, Deputy Medical Director of International SOS in Malaysia said:
“Over time, fasting and late evenings spent with friends and family can potentially impact weight and sleep patterns. New routines should be adopted gradually. The main risks of fasting are low blood sugar and or dehydration, especially in warm climates.”
International SOS has the following advice for staying fit and feeling productive while fasting:
- Keep Iftar light - When breaking the fast, try to avoid a sudden intake of large portions of sugary or fatty foods that can cause headaches and dizziness. We advise eating lightly at sunset. Break your fast with dates and milk, water, or fruit juice to help stabilise insulin and hydration levels. Waiting 10 minutes before eating further can help prevent indigestion.
- Don't skip Suhour - Always eat something for Suhour - drinking fluids is not enough. Complex carbohydrates in barley, haleem, whole-grain bread, and lentils provide a slow-burning source of energy for the long day ahead. These foods have a medium glycaemic index (GI) - a measure of carbohydrate content and the rate of energy release to the bloodstream. Foods with a high gIycaemic load can cause a peak in blood sugar levels followed by a ‘low'. Steady glucose release is more desirable during fasting.
- Get plenty of sleep - Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep a day while fasting. With increased prayer, family gatherings and socialising during Ramadan, 8 hours continuous sleep may not be possible, so try to sleep in intervals. Avoid excessive caffeinated beverages that can disrupt sleep.
- Stay on track – If you are following a weight loss diet or have an exercise routine, it doesn't need to be abandoned during Ramadan. Stick to your diet and spread your meal out throughout the evening. Pacing food intake helps reduce feelings of hunger and the amount of food consumed overall. Light exercise such as walking in cool evenings can help maintain fitness and promote healthy sleep patterns.
- Manage medication and chronic illness - Prior to Ramadan, always consult with a doctor about how fasting may affect your own health. As a general rule, medication normally taken at breakfast can be taken with Iftar; medicines normally consumed at dinner can be taken at Suhour. If you are diabetic, a physician can advise on how to take insulin during Ramadan. Be sure to closely monitor blood sugar especially before and after meals.
- Balance workload and energy at work - The body's energy level and the sugar level decrease during the day when we are fasting. This means we may feel fatigue and be less alert. It's a good idea to balance your work load, if possible, throughout the length of the day. Activity requiring high mental status and concentration, such as important meetings or brainstorming, should be scheduled for the morning while your energy levels are still high. Less intensive tasks such as recurrent activities or meetings, can take place later in the day. Try to keep calm at work and avoid stress, as this consumes a lot of energy. Colleagues, who are not fasting should also take these points into consideration when they are scheduling meetings with those who are.
- Be extra careful on the roads. Fasting for long periods lowers your body's energy level. This could make you less responsive when driving and can lead to traffic accidents. Before getting in your car, be sure you are well rested, alert and paying extra close attention to the road. Even if you are fine to drive other people may be feeling the effects of a long fast and tiredness. It is also good practice to not to travel alone and to have another passenger in the car to share the drive and swap, if needed. Most importantly, if at any point while driving you do not feel well, stop and if necessary break your fast.