Tips for staying healthy and hydrated during a hot and humid Ramadan

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 Fasting for Ramadan is already difficult, doing so in hot and humid weather can be even more difficult.

As the heat wave continues to sweep Malaysia this holy month, many Muslims are braving the heat as they fast from dawn to dusk.

If not followed properly, lack of food and water during hot weather can lead to dehydration, dizziness, stomachaches and possible fainting.

With only two times a day to eat and nourish yourself, it can be a challenge to achieve a balanced diet to keep your body energized.

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So how can those who are fasting stay healthy and hydrated during the heat wave this Ramadan season?

Malay Mail recently gathered some helpful tips from Sunway Healthcare wellness executive and nutritionist Nur Syahnadz Zareithy.

Stay away from heat

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To reduce the effects of heat while fasting, Syahnadz recommended these steps.

Avoid outdoor sun: Minimize outdoor activities during the hottest hours and seek shade when necessary.

Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids during pre-dawn and post-sunset meals to avoid dehydration.

Keep your body cool: Take a shower, use wet washcloths, or make sure living spaces are well ventilated to stay comfortable.

Syahnadz added that these decisions should be based on a person’s activity during working hours and how long they will have to be outdoors.

A healthy diet is important

A healthy and balanced diet for sahur and iftar meals is key to energizing the body. Photograph by Miera Zulyana

According to Syahnadz, the most important aspect of staying healthy is the diet during the breakfast (before dawn) i iftar meals (after sunset).

Sahur should consist of nutritious foods that provide lasting energy, while iftar should start with dates and water to replenish fluids and regulate blood sugar levels.

While there are no strict dietary restrictions during Ramadan, prioritizing certain food choices can help maintain energy levels throughout the day:

High-fiber foods: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help ease digestion and prevent spikes in blood sugar.

Lean proteins: Use rich sources like chicken, fish, legumes and eggs to promote muscle repair and keep you full.

Complex carbohydrates: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, which provide slow-release energy throughout the day.

Dates: Rich in fiber and low on the glycemic index, dates serve as an excellent source of natural sugars to break the fast.

Syahnadz recommended staying away from unhealthy foods and drinks like caffeine, sugary foods and fried foods, which can cause thirst and fatigue.

Those who require medication for chronic conditions should consult their medical advisor to adjust the amount and timing of their dose based on their condition during fasting.

Get enough rest

Quality sleep plays a crucial role in managing hunger and maintaining overall well-being during Ramadan.

There are studies showing that those who sleep shorter hours have lower amounts of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) compared to those who sleep longer, he said.

Getting good quality can help you maintain your weight. That’s why sometimes, when we woke up from a nap or sleep, we’ll be hungry. So it really depends on how your own body responds.

While napping may seem tempting, Syahnadz said it’s important to prioritize spiritual pursuits over extended daytime sleep.

He said that during the day is when Muslims should practice ibadah (adoration).

Fasting during Ramadan is important in our religion as it is a practice we do after reaching a certain age known as maturity, said the dietitian.

Emergency situations

Sometimes one’s health can suddenly take a turn for the worse. In this case, it is okay to stop the fast.

Syahnadz said that in Islam, breaking the fast is permitted in serious situations where fasting poses a risk to health or well-being.

Circumstances such as pregnancy, illness or intense physical work justify the exemption from fasting.

However, he advised people to consult religious experts or health professionals for guidance in such cases.

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