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Doctors advise that while it is important to respect customs and tradition, it is also prudent to go easy on meat consumption during festivities. Pictures for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Health-care specialists have cautioned residents against overload of red meat in their meals during the Eid Al Adha festivities.

Since Eid Al Adha is marked by the slaughter of sacrificial animals, people tend to include red meat for most meals. They range from mince pies, koftas and kebabs to roast, harise and rich meat stews.

While it is important to respect tradition and partake of such food with family and friends and build stronger bonds, doctors say it is also prudent to go easy on meat preparations. Four days of non-stop celebrations can mean a protein and fat overload in the body, they caution.

Red meat is linked to cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It is not that having meat during Eid will exacerbate these, but one should be careful.

- Sakina Mustansir Zakir, Clinical dietician

Dr Gaurav Didi, specialist gastroenterologist with Prime Hospital, said: “People tend to eat huge portions of red meat, which they probably would not eat in a month and thereby jeopardise their health. Ideally, only 20 per cent of our calories must come from fat while 50 per cent must come from carbohydrates and 30 per cent from proteins. Red meat is rich in fat and proteins. When you are having three meals that predominantly have meat preparations, the digestive system gets overloaded. An avergae meal takes about six hours to digest. But in case of meat-rich meals, it takes about 8-12 hours to be digested. It takes more than six hours for the meat to pass from the stomach to the intestines. However, during festivals when people are having meat preparations for every meal, there is not enough time for the previous meals to get digested. This makes the stomach distended, causes acid reflux, bloating, pain and constipation.”

Apart from indigestion and acidity, even an occasional overindulgence in meat preparations can impact one’s inner organs adversely. Julot Vinolia, clinical dietician and head of dietary services at Medeor 24/7 Hospital, said: “The daily recommended intake of protein for an individual with healthy weight is 60 to 90 grammes. The advisable limits for maximum consumption of red meat per day should be less than 100 grammes a day or 500 grammes per week.

People tend to eat huge portions of red meat [during festivities], which they probably would not eat in a month and thereby jeopardise health.

- Dr Gaurav Didi, Gastroenterologist

“Sudden intake of excessive red meat can injure the kidneys, liver, heart and the gut. People with pre-existing health issues and those on medications should be very mindful of going overboard on those sumptuous meat delicacies.”

Possible damage on the body caused by overconsumption of meat:

■ Deep-fried meat preparations such as cutlets makes it more difficult to digest as there is fat from oil and from the meat to assimilate, leading to acid reflux, heart burn and bloating. Delayed digestion reduces blood circulation to the brain leading to fatigue and a foggy mind.

■ It is recommended that meat of the slaughtered animal be left for at least four-six hours and then cooked. Cooking immediately leads to indigestion as some time is required for biological changes in the meat to set in after the halal process.

■ Excessive red meat intake — i.e. more than 100 grammes for more than two meals per day — increases uric acid levels in the blood, liver enzymes, flaring inflammation causing gout attacks, kidney stones and arthritic joint pain.

■ The risk of a sudden gall bladder attack is high with excess red meat intake as fatty meat dishes require a high amount of bile for digestion. People with regular processed meat, high alcohol and unhealthy fat intake are at a higher risk.

■ Going over-limit on high meat dishes along with sugary deserts, high carb and high salt intake during festivals, especially during the summer, poses a high risk of heart attacks and strokes. This kind of unhealthy excess eating with reduced water intake increases risk of blood clot formation in our blood vessels.

Right balance:

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The right balance Image Credit: Agency

A little vigilance can go a long way in striking the right balance, according to dietician Julot Vinolia.

Hydration: With the temperatures soaring during Eid Al Adha, poor intake of water predisposes the risk of heart attack, kidney injury and food poisoning. Being mindfully well-hydrated can keep us off sudden health distress.

Increase intake of fruits and vegetables: Apart from offering us fiber and antioxidants, they keep the bowels healthy and the colonic bacteria in good form.

Breakfast: Be a vegetarian for breakfast. Start your day with a simple vegetarian breakfast high in soluble fiber, it keeps the bowels moving in good health. For e.g., oatmeal, berries, avocados, high-fiber fruits and egg whites.

Adopt healthy cooking methods for meat preparations: Boiling, baking, grilling and slow cooking methods help us digest meat easily.

Use natural marinades: Marinating red meat in natural meat tenderisers such as papaya, pineapple, yoghurt and turmeric not only makes the meat soft, but also requires less digestive enzymes in our stomach to digest.

Intermittent fasting: Giving a break of upto four-six hours between lunch and dinner prevents indigestion. Avoid very late-night heavy meals.

Restrict desserts: Keep all desserts to before dinner. This helps prevent high blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood and prevents the risk of a stroke.

Cut out soda: Avoid drinking carbonated sugary drinks with meals and opt for natural sparkling water, condiment-infused water (jeera, anise seeds, cinnamon), herbal teas to help with digestion. Keeping off milk intake during Eid greatly helps, too, as milk is acidic in nature.