Dubai: Good health is the new mantra for the post-pandemic era and even though families are looking to celebrate Eid Al Adha with gusto, doctors and nutritionists advise exercising caution and moderation in the intake of red meat during the nine-day festival.
Overeating of red meat during Eid can cause incidence of acute metabolic overload that can precipitate gastrointestinal indigestion, bloating, acid reflux and heart attacks, warn doctors.
One single binge-eating episode increases the risk of heart attack manifold
Quoting studies carried out in the West, Dr Abdul Rauoof Malik, cardiologist (specialist) at Aster Hospital Ghusais said, “It is a well-documented fact that in the West cases of heart attacks and strokes are higher after the Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here. In the UAE, we have seen a general trend of more Cardio Vascular episodes after binge eating during festivals like Eid. There is evidence to support the fact that in a single binge-eating event, a person can increase the risk of heart attack three or four fold. Therefore, I advise people, to either give away the meat of the sacrificial lamb to the poor and needy, reserving smaller portion for themselves, or to freeze some portions to eat on other days.”
Red meat rich in cholesterol and protein
He reiterated, “Do not consume too much red meat on Eid Al Adha, as red meat is known to be rich in cholesterol, high in protein and fat and can trigger cardio vascular disease.”
Exercise moderation and be mindful of the amount of meat you ingest in the festival celebration days. There will be several meals shared with friends, family and the community and if every meal is heavy on meat, sugar and fat, it will have a very adverse impact on your health.
Usually people love to begin their day with smaller portions of meat-based gruels or porridge such as harissa or even a few kebabs for breakfast and then opt for grilled or curried lamb chops in the main course for lunch, signing off with even richer dishes such as biryanis for dinner topped off with rich creamy desserts. Such pattern of eating is the norm during festival days and can have an adverse impact on health.
The mode of cooking and the portions matter a lot
Cautioning about the dangers of excessive meat eating, Juliot Vinolia, clinical dietitian at the Medeor Hospital, Dubai said, “Like every year, I am cautioning all my patients against going overboard on meat eating during the current festival. The human body needs 50 per cent of calories from carbohydrates, 30 per cent from proteins and 20 per cent from fats. However, these proportions go awry during the Eid festivities. People have meat preparations for breakfast, lunch and dinner and those are either fried or curried. The oil used in cooking these plus the protein content from the meat far exceeds the required daily intake of fat and protein. Added to this is the high intake of sugar through desserts. Our food plan goes completely out of balance resulting in high rate of heart attacks, acid reflux, indigestion, and vomiting and diarrhoea cases among people. Hospitals have to deal with many emergencies that spiral out of such unmindful eating.
“The choice of how meat is cooked matters,” said Vinolia. “Usually it is advisable for people to select to eat meat that is well marinated, for over six, seven hours and slowly cooked like a in a stew for good digestion. However, this does not happen and results in a toxic overload, resulting in stomach cramps, GI discomfort, acid reflux, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting and even more serious health episodes.”
People eat the next meal even before digesting the first one properly
Vinolia pointed out that people failed to note that the time it took to digest meat was much longer than the rest of the food. “Normal food takes about six hours to be digested while meat rich food takes about 10-12 hours to be digested and assimilated. The body is under stress and we tend to stress it further with such patterns of eating overloaded the gastrointestinal track as the meat eaten during breakfast was still in the process of being digested, assimilated and absorbed. Red meat takes at least 8-12 hours of digestion time. It takes more than six hours for the meat to pass from the stomach to the intestines and then metabolised. However, during such binge eating, people tend to move to the next meal even before the current has been properly digested. Ingesting more than 100 gm of meat for two consecutive meals is likely to increase the purine levels in the blood, causing a spike in uric acid, resulting in gout and kidney stones.”
So while you usher in a beautiful festival that teaches us the significance of sacrifice, it is important to remember to give away as much of the sacrifice in charity to the poor and needy and be modest about infesting smaller portion of meat to keep good health.
How you can counter the impact of meat eating?
• Limit the portions of meat intake
• Make sure to add a lot of fresh salads, and fruits in your meal and soup. Have these first as appetisers. The high fibre in these foods will fill you up naturally. It also keeps you well hydrated leaving less space for meat dishes.
• Make sure you are well- hydrated and ingest at least three litres of water. Mayo Clinic points out that water helps break down the food ingested, allowing its nutrients to be absorbed by the body. Both the large and small intestines absorb water and this aids digestion and absorption allowing the nutrients to be broken down well and assimilated into the body.
• Ensure the meat is marinated well (at least 7-8 hours) as the marination and cooking over slow fire (like in case of stews) helps in digestion of meat. Meat of freshly slaughtered lamb tends to be harder and more rigid, slowing down digestion.
• If you have CVD or any cholesterol issues, avoid having meat. If you do take, be mindful to limit your consumption to small portion.
• Balance your intake of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Unprocessed, dense and complex carbohydrates must be over 50 per cent of your meal size, proteins 30 per cent and fats 20 per cent. If one is able to keep to this proportion, to promote healthy eating.
• Cut out sodas, sugary drinks and desserts as all excess sugars will be stored as fat in the body. With meat, one is already ingesting more fat through the method of cooking where more oil is required. So one must try to minimise other fats.
• Inculcate a habit of physical exercise for at least 45 minutes (a combination of cardio and weights every day during the festive season to burn off the excess calories and make optimal use of the nutrition in muscle and stamina building exercises.