Has fasting this Ramadan left you feeling physically bleh? Quarantine has left us more sedentary and reaching for comfort foods. You loved our last blog post about Islamically inspired suhur ideas with Dr. Sebaa, so we asked her to come back with even more simple, yet mind-blowing tips. Today she’s sharing how to deal with dehydration, bloating and lethargy. We hope the tips help you during these blessed, last ten nights of Ramadan!
Dry fasting during Ramadan is a powerful way to amplify the benefits of fasting in a shorter window. Because your body doesn't have outside sources of water, it's forced to go in and break down old damaged cells while recycling its own water. Amazing, isn't it? Now, it’s still very important to hydrate well during the periods that we’re able to. The trick is to do so correctly. Here’s a simple hydration tip:
- Add minerals to your water as needed. While there are many options out there in the market, my personal favorite is simply a pinch of natural unrefined salt in my suhur water, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon juice. Why salt? When we fast, the hormone insulin drops and we excrete more sodium. Sodium is essential for basic communication between cells and it can easily be replenished with good quality salt. Secondly, naturally occuring salt is rich in trace minerals and electrolytes. Proper electrolyte balance helps with every function in the body and may help prevent common fasting symptoms such as muscle cramping and headaches. Additionally, enjoying more water and mineral rich foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, and soups are great ways to up your hydration.
Chewing (after the sight and smell of food) is the first step of the digestive process. When you chew well, the food gets better exposure to your saliva which is full of digestive enzymes that are specific to the content of the food you’re chewing. Chewing too quickly causes larger particles to enter your intestines and adds more of a burden to your digestion. Think: Gas, bloating, cramping, and even weight gain. Chewing food well increases the surface area of the food and allows you to use and assimilate the nutrients better. Food will also taste better, which increases satisfaction and satiety.
Here are some practical tips to chew on:
- Sit upright at your meal and start with a prayer, thankfulness, and positive intentions. This intentional space for gratitude will also put you more in rest and digest mode, which will further prime digestion.
- In each bite, chew your food so well that it becomes liquid and don’t add another bite until you’ve swallowed the bite before. Take breaths between your bites.
- Try to avoid drinking water at the same time during your meal. You’ll find that if you chew very well, you won’t need water to chase down your food. Water is best suited between meals.
If you've wondered how to maintain fitness during Ramadan, this one’s for you! Most people can absolutely exercise while fasting. The trick is to know what exercises fit best during different times of the day. Here are some tips:
- After Suhur (morning/daytime): This time period is more suitable for low intensity exercises. This way, you won’t deplete your energy stores too quickly. Examples include: walking, light rowing, stretching, tai chi/qi gong, yoga, and bodyflow.
- Before Iftar (early evening): This is a more ideal time for high intensity exercises and resistance training, if you’re up for it. Since you’ll be breaking your fast shortly after your workout, you’ll be able to replenish your body without feeling drained for too long. Examples include: Tabata, cycling, running, weight training, sprints, burpees, seal jumps, and pushups/squats.
The levels of engagement, length, and intensity will vary depending on your exercise tolerance, where you are in your cycle, and what you had the day before, among other variables. Listen to your body and do what works best for you.
Thank you Dr. Sebaa for educating us on how to take better care of ourselves this Ramadan! Dr. Sebaa is our go to for everything wellness and skincare. She is also a certified herbal skin-care formulator, embracing the beauty of nature both from the inside-out and outside-in. Check out her IG @drsebaa for a fantastic resource, her IGTV Ramadan series is everything.