Dr Zahid Chauhan gives some advice to those who are fasting this Ramadan.
Recent headlines claiming that fasting may damage the pancreas and affect insulin function could send shockwaves throughout communities – particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.
Dig deeper and research shows that while there will always be health considerations around abstaining from food, fasting remains an effective way of safely cleansing our bodies and minds, reminding us of our how fortunate we are, and even aiding us to lose weight.
That is the case for people of all faiths – and none.
Maintaining a fast can prove difficult though, and a conversation with your GP, faith leader or mentor should always precede one, especially if you have a long-term health condition. Our door is always open during the fast too, with our mantra being: “Fasting is all about refreshing your spirit – not damaging your body”.
Healthy abstinence can be achieved with simple lifestyle changes which include avoiding intensive exercise, getting your quota of eight-hour’s sleep and planning dawn and nightly food intake to feature protein, calcium and fibre rich food.
With temperatures beginning to rise, it is best to promote hydration, by avoiding salty dishes and caffeine and drinking tepid, not iced, water at Sahūr and Iftar.
The best way to make a fast last is to surround yourselves with positive people, who encourage and are sympathetic to your needs (and who don’t talk about food all day long!).
Here is a pivotal message for those not fasting this Ramadan. The holy month is all about reflection; but it also about action, helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
As the founder of the Homeless-Friendly programme, I have been made painfully aware of the fact that rough sleepers and those on the verge of homelessness, have times when they simply don’t eat.
If you have a friend who is fasting, perhaps cap your sensitivity around eating by helping them with their charitable endeavours, too.
Christians observing Lent, Jews on the Day of Atonement and indeed people with no faith who are keen to cleanse their bodies, have completed healthy, rewarding fasts for hundreds of years, enriching their souls.
It is my belief that a safe fast lasts, influencing for the good our future health, diet and happiness.
A blessed and prosperous Ramadan Mubarak to you all.
(Rochdale Online, 21st May 2018)