BY | July 8, 2013

Ramadan 2013 has almost arrived. Here we take a look at fasting and health guidelines besides USA date and time details

Ramadan 2013 is finally here and fasting is set to start from tomorrow or day after tomorrow in many parts of the world. The fasting is a month of cleaning the life of the world’s Muslims when they cleanse their hearts from the worldly evils that afflicts most of the people in the rest of the world.

Fasting is mandatory for every Muslim man and woman and they have to stop themselves from many worldly pleasures throughout the month in the day times including eating and sex. Muslims have been promised rewards by the God almighty if they resist the temptations of using even those things that are halal during other months and avoiding them in this month during certain times as Allah (SWT) forbids it.

Fasting for the whole month is something unimaginably difficult thing for anyone, even for believers. But they follow the orders to seek His pleasure and His blessings. They know that without pleasing Him, they cannot really expect their lives to be pleasant and happy here and in the Hereafter.

Ramadan is the ninth month of lunar calendar when fasting is prescribed for all adult Muslims. This month is full of blessing, mercy and devotion. It is the month of spiritual rejuvenation and repentance as well as training for the rest of the year. Fasting can be used to improve health as well. Knowing which kind of food to eat or avoid, can help make fasting a better experience.

SAHOOR (EARLY BREAKFAST)
Ramadan is an opportunity for someone who wants to lose some weight. Dietary modification, decrease in calories and mild to moderate exercise after iftaar can go a long way in achieving this goal. Best foods recommended for early breakfast are slow digesting food like wheat, lentil, whole meal flour and rice. Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods like grains, seeds, vegetable and dried fruits are also good. Fast burning foods like sugar, white flour should be avoided along with fried and fatty food. Haleem (Indian dish containing grinded meat, lentil, rice and wheat) are good example of slow digesting food. Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibres, carbohydrate, potassium and magnesium. High sodium containing foods like soups, sauces, gravies should be avoided. Eating fried food and heavy oil items can cause heartburn and discomfort all day.

MEDICAL BENEFITS
The physiological effect of fasting includes lower blood sugar, lowering of the cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for treatment of mild to moderate stable, non-insulin diabetes, diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension. In 1994 the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan” held in Casablanca, entered 50 research papers from all over the world from Muslim and Non-Muslim researchers, who had done extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting. Improvement in many medical conditions was noted; however, in no way did fasting worsen any patient’s health or baseline medical condition. On the other hand, patients suffering from severe diabetes or coronary artery disease, kidney stones, etc. are exempt from fasting and should not try to fast.
This is the only time of the year when digestive tract gets annual holiday vacation of 29 or 30 days. After 15-16 hour fast, taste buds have taken the rest and food may taste more pleasant and enjoyable.

EXERCISE
The people who are interested in weight training workout, best time is after voluntary (taraveeh) prayer. Exercising while fasting can actually be more detrimental than beneficial. This will insure that the person has eaten several meals and drank plenty of water before exercising.

IFTAAR (SUNSET MEALS)
Breaking fast should be with dates and water. Dates are very unique in their nutritional content. They contain very high level of potassium (much more than banana) a key re-hydration mineral and a special carbohydrate blend that enhances hydration above and beyond water alone. They contain a special blend of glucose and fructose for short and long-term energy. They also contain a nutrient Called Beta D-glucan, a soluble fibre that can enhance satiety, and digestive health.

SIDE EFFECT
Some main side effects of fasting can include headache usually due to caffeine and tobacco withdrawal, lack of sleep, and hunger. Others may include constipation, indigestion, low blood sugar and muscle cramps. Overall Ramadan is a month of blessing, devotion and extra voluntary prayer as well as reading the Holy Qur’ān. Dietary modification and helpful advice can make it a pleasant experience and a means of improvement in our health. (Courtesy: Radiance Weekly)

Islamic Society of North America says that the dates of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr for the year 1434 AH are established as follows:

1st of Ramadan will be on Tuesday, July 9, 2013
1st of Shawwal (Eid) will be on Thursday, August 8, 2013

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