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Ramzan and your health

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Tamanna Chowdhury :
Appropriate food selection can help to maintain good health during Ramzan. So, we should take healthy and balanced diet during iftar, sehri and dinner because during this time and type of diet changes. So, by consuming nutritive and balanced diet we can keep fast in healthy manner.
Many of us suffer constipation, belching, retching, vertigo, giddiness, limb ache, tiredness. Those who have diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease also suffer different symptoms at times they are unable to fast. Appropriate diet can help them remain healthy while fasting during Ramzan.
Patients should seek their physician's opinion before fasting during Ramzan. May require needful tests and adjust medications as per physician’s advice. Diabetic patient needs insulin or other diabetic drug dose adjustment to prevent hypoglycaemic attack or hyperglycaemic condition.
Moreover there should be change in calorie intake. Harmful food should be avoided.
Iftar is the main attraction during Ramzan with enormous religious value. Keeping prohibited from any food intake for long hours by taking iftar fasting is over. So, food selection for iftar is important.
Correct food for iftar provides necessary stamina;
Correct amount of iftar gives nutrition;
Correction food selection gives strength to body and keeps hydrated.
Iftar is initiated with liquids, fruit juice, ghol or matha, lemon juice, coconut water, tokma seed juice, molasses juice are healthy. Honey or molasses can be added instead of extra sugar. Banana and dates among fruits are very nutritious. These fruits provide necessary energy and potassium. Tropical fruits like mango, jackfruit and litchi can meet energy, minerals and vitamin requirement of body. Papaya juice or pulp can help in digestion during Ramzan.
Pineapple, malta, pear, apple can provide vitamin c and certain necessary minerals. We can get adequate fibre by cutting these fruits into small pieces and preparing mixed fruit salad.
Flattened rice, puffed rice, noodles, rice flour roti, sagu, popped rice are good food item for iftar. These items meet carbohydrate need of body. Softened flattened rice can be taken with yogurt. Popped rice with milk, noodles with egg and vegetables can enrich iftar menu. Egg, yogurt, curd, etc provides protein, as well as calcium, phosphorus, iron, different vitamins and minerals.
Instead of taking Piaju every day, vegetable pakora fried in minimal oil can be chosen for iftar. Potato shallow fried is healthier than brinjal deep fried.
Chana is an important item in iftar. Chana fried with excess spices and oil is tasty but harmful to health. So boiled chana mixed with cucumber, tomato, chat masala, coriander leave and boiled potato is more beneficial. Tuna fish sandwich is a good choice for iftar menu.
It can give us necessary omega fatty acid, protein and calcium. Dahi vara is also a healthy choice for iftar menu. Homemade dahi vara can be a source of protein with calorie, calcium, sodium, potassium and vitamin B.
Fried food should be avoided during iftar. Milk made firni, custard, pudding are better option than bundia and jalebi.
Sehri item help to keep energetic during fasting throughout the day in Ramzan. Moderate amount of food should be preferred for sehri. Easily digestible food should be chosen for sehri. Complex carbohydrates release glucose slowly and help to keep energetic. Oats, barley, bread are good source of complex carbohydrate. Soft rice, fish or chicken gravy or egg, boiled vegetables, can be taken for sehri in estimated amount. After that a date and a cup of milk will give enough energy and hydration to body. Those who do not prefer rice can take puffed rice with milk and banana or mango, flattened rice with curd etc.
It is unhealthy to fast in empty stomach. It creates pressure over different body organs. So, adequate amount of food intake is needed during sehri time. Adequate amount of water should be consumed up to Fazar prayer. Fried food and rich food should be avoided strictly during sehri. Bread, sandwich, sour fruit, leafy vegetable, salad should be avoided too.
Many of us skip dinner after heavy intake of food during iftar. This is harmful to health. After sufficient iftar Tarabi prayer should be offered after sufficient iftar then minimal amount of dinner is desired. Bread, vegetables, milk, egg, chicken/vegetable soup, popped rich, flattened rice, puffed rice or oats with can be advantageous. Over eating should be avoided. After heavy iftar a glass of milk, two dates and bread can be consumed. Small amount of rice with fish or chicken and vegetables should be taken during dinner and avoid over eating during iftar.
Drinking  water
To keep fast during whole Ramzan adequate amount of water should be taken from iftar to sehri time. Around 2 to 2.5 litres of water should be taken from a measured bottle. Water helps in food absorption and digestion. Adequate amount of water keeps us recharged and dhydrates skin.
Green tea, lemon tea, lemon juice, fruit juice etc can be taken.
Food to avoid
Food deep fried-piaju, pakora, samosa, roll, etc.
Excess sugar added food-gulab jamun, bundia, jalebi, balusai etc
Excess fat containing food-food fried in ghee, chicken fry, fish fry, halwa, etc
Alternate healthy food-
Baked samosa, momo, boiled wonton, baked roll
Roti over paratha and luchi
Grilled fish or chicken than chicken fry or fish fry
Homemade fruit cake or pancake than confectionery cake, pastry
Milk made sweets like semai, sagu, payesh, pudding, fruit custard than ghee fried or sugar syrup soaked sweets
Cooking techniques to be escaped-
Deep fry
Smoked or scorched
Frying in cooked oil
Healthy preparation-
Shallow fry in minimal heat in a non-stick fry-pan
Grill, Bake etc.
Safe and wholesome iftar is every muslims right. Homemade and easy digestible food has not alternative. So, select food menu consequently and prepare at home and enjoy with whole family. n

(Tamanna Chowdhury, Vice President at Association of Nutritionists and Dieticians  and Principal Dietician, Head of Dietetics Department at Apollo Hospitals Dhaka )

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