Emma Hammett A qualified nurse, author and first aid trainer with over 30 years’ healthcare and teaching experience There are 2.8 million Muslims in Britain and many will be following Ramadan, a month-long fast. To ensure you remain healthy when fasting, it is sensible to plan ahead and understand how fasting can affect your health.
are 2.8 million Muslims in Britain and many will be following Ramadan, a
month-long fast. To ensure you remain healthy when fasting, it is sensible to
plan ahead and understand how fasting can affect your health.
on for more advice on how to fast and stay healthy.
started on the 5th May in 2019 and will last until 4 June. Fasting
is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged
to fast from sunrise to sunset. In the UK, that is approximately 17 hours
a day, for almost a full month. The strict fasting does not allow even for
water to be taken during the daylight hours. This can be a major challenge for
some people, particularly if the weather is hot, they have underlying health
issues, are trying to take exams or have other extenuating circumstances that
can make fasting much harder.
Who should not fast:
majority of people fast without any ill effects, but it is important to ensure
that provision is made for people who are pregnant, breast feeding have
pre-existing medical conditions or whose life styles, work, exercise or study
makes it more difficult and possibly dangerous for them.
following groups should be more cautious when fasting and the Qur’an permits
them to be excused:
- Those with mental health issues
- Children pre-puberty
- The elderly and chronically ill for
whom fasting would be unreasonably strenuous
- Pregnant women and nursing may
postpone the fasting at a later time
- The ill and the travellers can also
defer their fasting
possible for those that are excused from fasting to either give additional
support to charity (ideally sufficient to feed at least one poor person every
day during the fasting period) or postpone their fast until they are clinically
in a better position to undertake it.
Heat wave upcoming!
weather hasn’t been especially warm yet, but a heat wave is predicted for the
coming months. People should not underestimate how important it is to remain
hydrated in hot weather, particularly if undertaking rigorous work or
exercise. Speaking with the Imam can clarify the position, but ultimately
it is up to the individual whether they choose to fast and how strictly they
undertake the fast, they should not put their health at risk.
period of fasting for Ramadan in the UK is about 17 hours per day and that
amount of time in hot weather without drinking anything at all can lead to
severe dehydration. Not everyone is obliged to fast and if they are ill or have
an underlying medical condition they are exempt.
bear in mind that the Qur’an also states that no one should do anything to harm
their body and fasting if someone is not healthy enough to do so, can make them
What to eat:
observing the Ramadan should aim to have at least two meals a day. These
are the pre-dawn meal (called Suhoor) and a meal at dusk (called Iftar).
meals should be well balanced and should mimic follow your usual diet.
All the food groups should be represented, so think about including: fruit and
vegetables, bread, cereals and potatoes, meat/fish (or alternatives), milk
and dairy foods and some foods containing fat and sugar.
not to include too many sugary foods though and include foods that are
healthier carbohydrates instead as these will help your body sustain you
further over your fasting period.
include: wholegrains, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and lower fat
dairy products. Foods that help you to feel fuller for longer tend to be
those that are higher in fibre, such as fruit, vegetables, pulses and a variety
of starchy foods (especially wholegrain varieties). Caffeinated drinks
should be avoided, as they are diuretic, so may lead to dehydration.
this advice given, it is of course normally safe for people to fast as long as
they do so mindfully. First Aid for Life wishes you all Ramadan Mubarak! Enjoy the season.
articles contain really helpful advice to help remain healthy whilst fasting
Asthma and Fasting is a great article containing key advice from Asthma.org.uk
for people with Asthma wishing to observe Ramadan
Diabetes and Fasting is a really helpful article from Diabetes UK concerning fasting
people with Sickle cell disease it is vitally important that they maintain a
healthy diet and keep fully hydrated. Failure to do this can precipitate a
painful sickle cell crisis.
Epileptic patients controlled on medication, the medication needs to continue
to be taken regularly otherwise it can be very difficult to bring the condition
back under control.
Ramadan Fasting and the Medical
Patient is a helpful paper discussing fasting advice
in various medical conditions
First Aid for Life provides this information for
guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid
for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken
based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid
course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
Written by Emma Hammett from First Aid for Life – http://www.firstaidforlife.org.uk