Fasting Ramadan: 7 health risks to be aware of

Fasting Ramadan: 7 health risks to be aware of
Fanous Ramadanvia Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Ramadan is around the corner, and we are all excited!

Ramadan is the time of the year which sees us, Muslims, engage in increased worship, spiritual reflection, devotion, charity and self-discipline. It is also the time when we refrain from consuming food and drinks from dawn until sunset – a practice with so many rewarding health benefits, no doubt about it.

That the health benefits of fasting the holy month outweigh any possible health risks is far from questionable. Numerous studies show that fasting has positive effects on both our body and brain. That being said, you should however not lose sight of some of the common health risks associated with observing the fast.

The following are some of the risks that can endanger your health while fasting Ramadan and which you should definitely be aware of.

1. Poor control of diabetes

According to the International Diabetes Federation, there were over 1.6 million people with diabetes in Morocco in 2015. This is what makes poor control of diabetes the number one health concern on our list.

Studies have shown that fasting could lead to serious poor control of diabetes. People in need of a regular insulin dose, the basic advice is that they should not observe the fast, simply because the risk of not taking insulin is just very grave. For those who have their diabetes under control using different treatments, they should consult their doctor for advice before deciding to fast Ramadan.

2. Weight Gain

Fasting helps lose some modest weight. It is definitely not the ideal way to lose weight, though. What you might however not know is that there is a great chance of gaining weight during Ramadan.

It is true that we fast during day in Ramadan, but then to just feast during the night. Food consumed during the pre-dawn and dusk meals can cause some serious weight gain. Consuming too much food during these times is a recipe for weight addition which could of course lead to other health problems.

Medical experts advise people to approach the fast of Ramadan with discipline and use the opportunity to lose healthy weight and become healthier.

3. Heartburn:

Heartburn is one of the common complaints reported during Ramadan, especially during the first days. Fasting normally results in a reduction of stomach acid that helps digestion. However, thinking about food or smelling it can give our bodies the impression that a meal is on the way. This makes the brain tell the stomach to generate more acid, which can lead to heartburn.

If you happen to take medication for indigestion, the advice is that you continue taking it. A good time to do this could be with the pre-dawn meal. Avoiding deep fried, oily or very spicy foods during Ramadan period can also help.

4. Dehydration:

This is one of the most common health risks when fasting and the reasons are clear. Our bodies keep losing water and salt due to urinating, perspiring and by just breathing. Fasting increases the risk of dehydration as we are unable to replenish this lost water.

It is advisable that during Ramadan, people should consume plenty of water shortly before the fasting periods as this could help reduce the dehydration risk.

5. Constipation:

As we continue being active, drinking water regularly and eating healthy foods, our bowel movement should of course be regular. However, during Ramadan, these become irregular and it comes with the risk of constipation.

Health experts advise anyone observing the fast to ensure a balanced diet containing foods from all the major food groups, namely fruits and vegetables, grains, diary and protein foods.

6. Headache:

There are so many things that could cause headache during Ramadan. Some of these include poor rest, hunger, dehydration and the absence of addictive substances like nicotine or caffeine.

The best way to avoid headache during this month is by not missing the pre-dawn meal, consuming enough fluids and if necessary takings some painkillers. In addition, do not forget to avoid exposing oneself to direct sunlight.

7. Stress:

One of the possible health problems when fasting the holy month is the risk of stress. Lack of water, food, the changing routine and the shortened sleeping periods are always the trigger for stress. Stress can have devastating effects, and it is important to deal with any potential sources of stress during Ramadan.

For example, during this period, it is advisable not to take too much more than your body can handle. You should avoid smoking, avoid outdoor activities under the hot sun and avoid any unnecessary strenuous activities.

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