With the long hot days of July coinciding with the annual Ramadan fast health concerns arise in the minds of Health and Fitness Professionals who fear lack of awareness for proper eating and hydration may be a deficit in Ramadan.
It is estimated that 70% of American walk around on a daily basis dehydrated. In Ramadan Muslim go all the day light hours without consuming any form of food or liquids. With Ramadan coinciding with the long hot days of August this year, Muslim becoming dehydrated is a major concern and should be a community awareness campaign during Ramadan for the next 8 years as Ramadan continue to fall during summer months.
What is Dehydration and why is it a health concern?
Dehydration is the loss of fluids from the body. As Children the human body is 70% water, by the time we are adults we are 50% water. This water creates a very delicate balance is the way that our internal organs work, including the kidney, heart and lungs. When we have a deficit of fluid in the body, organs have to work overtime to compensate for the lack of fluid.
The first sign of dehydration is feeling thirsty. This symptom becomes noticeable after 2% dehydration. The thirst sensation is your body’s first signal that you needs to increase fluids in your body. Thirst be followed by the following symptoms
- Dark Urine
- Loss of Appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Elevated body Temperature
- Confusion (unable to concentrate)
- Negative Moods
If dehydration increase to 5%-6% the individual may
- Groggy or Sleepy
- Experience headaches
- Tingling in the limbs
- Muscles may become spastic. They will ache and ,
- Skin may appear shrivel and wrinkle
- Vision may dim or blur,
- Urination will be greatly reduced and may become painful
- Delirium may begin.
Losses greater than 15% are usually fatal.
How to minimize dehydration during Ramadan?
In American Muslims will fast nearly 16 straight hours without being able to take in liquids. That leave 8 hours to hydrate before the next days fast. Here are some very simple, practical and effective ways to make sure you and your family to stay hydrated during Ramadan.
Drink water through out the evening. The body of the average person has the ability to absorb only 8-10 ounces of water very 20 minutes. (This amount goes up or down with body size) That means when you drink more than 10 ounces of water at one time, the body expels the additional water, hence the urge to urinate when we drink a lot of water. So the best plan is to drink smaller portions throughout the evening and you will be able to get plenty. It’s easy to remember if you connect your water with your prayers. Here is a sample routine.
8:15 PM break fast with 10 ounces of water before praying Magrib
8:40 PM Drink 10 oz of water after the prayer with your meal
10:00 PM Drink 10 oz. of water before praying Isha
10:30 PM Drink 10 oz. of water Before paraying Tawareh
10:50 PM Drink 10 oz. during the Tawarih Break
11:30 PM Drink 10 oz. After Tawarih and Before Bed
4:00 AM Drink 10 oz. Right Before Fajr comes in.
As we get over 50 the body’s thirst sensation diminishes and continues diminishing with age. The needs for water does not decrease only the ability for our body to communicate the need. People over 50 should be mindful of this fact and find ways to consciously make themselves stay hydrated.
Avoid Caffinated Beverages
One common tradition in many Muslim cultures is drinking black tea. During Ramadan many Muslims eat and drink more traditional meals and may consume more tea than they normally would. And in our attempt to get the blessings of feeding our fasting Muslim brothers and sisters often we bring “budget conscious” Soda to community dinners instead of juice or water. However, these caffeinated and Sugared beverages can do more harm than good to the body of a fasting person. Caffiene is a dieretic, which means it causes the body the expel water. Despite the fact that it is carried within a water based beverage, you body will actually expel more water than what is in the beferage itself.
I try to be realistic and I know this one article isn’t going to change anyone’s culture or habits instantly so if you are going to drink caffeinated beverages compensate by drinking more water. For every 1 cup of coffee/tea/soda you drink you should as 1.5 cups of water to your daily intake of water. That is in addition to what you should drink normally.
Eat Foods that has a high water content.
Eating foods with a high water content will not compensate for your need to drink water however it can be benefcial to the hydration process. This tips needs no long detailed expliantion.
Dark green leafy vegetables, including romaine lettuce, kale, spinach and mustard greens, are packed with essential nutrients such as water. These foods have lots of water, dietary fiber, iron,vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Most varieties of squash are water dense. Zucchini is 97 percent water; butternut and summer squash, 94 percent; The squash family carry a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Add a squash to your diet by baking, grilling or sauteing it in your favorite oil.
With 92% water this dark purple veggie is also rich in B vitamins, potassium, copper, manganese, folic acid, tryptophan and phenolic antioxidant compounds.
Ninety-one percent water, strawberries are a good option for hydration. Red, sweet and juicy, this fruit is packed with vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and dietary fiber. Strawberries add a refreshing, sweet taste to any meal or dessert. Blend them with other fruits for a thirst-quenching fruit salad, smoothie or sorbet.
[This article is the first of a series of health and fitness articles to help Muslims meet the challenge of fasting during the summer months. For the weekly series visit www.FitMuslimah.com or Get THE RAMADAN SURVIVAL GUIDE at www.RamadanSurvivalGuide.com ]
Next article in this series – 5 Things Muslim Women Should Never Do In Ramadan
Mubarakah Ibrahim is the owner of BALANCE Fitness Studio for Women in New Haven, CT. She is an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Counselor and Authorized Oasis in the Overwhelm® Trainer. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show “Thirty-something in America”, is a contributing expert to Prevention Magazine on fitness for women over 40, appeared on the covers of the Hartford Current, New Haven Advocate and Chicago Tribune. Mubarakah lectures, promotes and conducts workshops on alternative health, fitness and healthy living throughout the World.