Dubai: Many people put too much emphasis on eating the right food after iftar to be able to sustain their fast during Ramadan, but nutritional experts say hydration is just as important to avoid fatigue and lethargy.
Prachi Telang, clinical nutritionist with Prime Healthcare said: “Nearly 60 per cent of our body weight is water and we see evidence of it in our blood through which nutrition as well as oxygen is transported through our body.
“It is the most essential thing for survival, and gains priority over food as it not only regulates our body temperature and electrolyte balance, but also our hormones, and is required for our metabolic activities. So during fasting hours while we deprive the body of water, we simultaneously lose it through simple metabolic activities such as respiration and perspiration.”
It is better to have suhour closer to dawn and not in the hours close to midnight and one must have more salads, fruits, green smoothies, high fibre food that retains water and keep the cells naturally hydrated.
Telang recommended that during the month of Ramadan it was therefore important to choose the right foods during suhour and iftar to keep oneself optimally hydrated.
“Water is required to keep the total electrolyte balance composed of essential salts such as sodium, potassium and calcium. Imbalance in this causes dehydration, dizziness, dry mouth among other symptoms that make one weak and sluggish.”
Telang added that people need to have at least seven to eight glasses of water through the day: “But considering that the fast is over 14 hours, it might be difficult to have so much water intake during iftar to suhour.
Fruit juices squeezed freshly from organic pesticide-free fruits and consumed immediately are an excellent source of quick nutrients and vitamins.
“It is better to have suhour closer to dawn and not in the hours close to midnight and one must have more salads, fruits, green smoothies, high fibre food that retains water and keep the cells naturally hydrated.”
Mitun Desarkar, Dubai based nutritionist and dietician provided these basic hydration tips from iftar to suhour:
■ Start the day with a chia pudding made with coconut milk, some chopped apples, papaya and pineapple thrown in or an oatmeal porridge sprinkled with cinnamon and fresh pears or even a green smoothie with mango and flaxseeds.
■ It’s a good idea to have coconut water, thin probiotic yoghurt, laban, probiotic kefir, cold-pressed green juices made from cucumber, spinach, celery, apples, berries to break the fast.
■ Slowly after the iftar meal one can have some steamed or sautéed vegetables such as spinach, cucumbers, watercress, celery, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, fresh juicy tomatoes, zucchini, yellow orange bell peppers, green cabbage, cauliflower as they have high water content.
■ Eating fruits and vegetables in the raw form is one of the best ways to eat your water. Creating interesting recipes of salads with lettuce, spinach and raspberries or creating one with melons, tomatoes and a sprinkling of feta cheese or a cucumber celery salad with hummus dip can be smart choices to stay hydrated.
■ Freezing ice lollies with fresh fruits juices or sorbets are some creative ways of adding more hydration to your body. Iced lollies also work like a palate cleanser.
■ This Ramadan also try some cold soups like gazpacho, cold cucumber yoghurt soups at iftar as summer has set in already.
■ Keep sipping water infused with mint, lemon, ginger, cucumber slices.
■ Snack on a popsicle made with coconut water and blueberries or strawberry yoghurt popsicle.
■ Dinner can be a wholesome salad made with chickpeas, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, coriander and celery drizzled with orange vinaigrette or Vietnamese rice paper rolls with avocado and tuna and cabbage, chicken lettuce wraps or some bell-peppers stuffed with lentils and Feta cheese.
■ Have as much water as you can consume, one glass every hour from iftar to suhour.
Note: These hydrating foods can be served with grilled fish or chicken to get the required protein that your body needs at this time.
■ Indulging in sugary beverages and sodas and soft drinks, fruit juices, ice creams, fizzy drinks or iced teas. Avoid all these sugary beverages and even the ones with artificial sweeteners as these will leave one more thirsty and dehydrated. Stay away from them and enjoy more infused waters
■ Avoid excessively greasy and spicy food and difficult-to-digest meats including processed meats. Avoid spicy, oily foods. Spicy, oily preparations tend to take longer time to digest and draw more water from the body to process. They can also cause heartburn and overall discomfort.
■ It is not advisable to drink too many fruit juices or other sgar sweetened beverages either during suhour or iftar as many people often do.
■ Limit fresh fruit intake to once a day. Desarkar explained: “Fruit juices squeezed freshly from organic pesticide-free fruits and consumed immediately are an excellent source of quick nutrients and vitamins, but fructose is sugar. One glass of juice requires eight to 10 oranges. While one orange with fibres is five to 60 calories, eight oranges without fibre turns into a high calorie drink.