Advice from a Muslim Pharmacist


 

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Fasting during Ramadan is prescribed for every healthy adult Muslim. The weak, the sick, children, travellers and menstruating women are amongst those who are exempt for fasting during this month.

Muslims observing the fast are required to abstain not only from eating and drinking, but also from consuming oral medicines and injecting fluids of nutritional value.

Advice on diet:

Please remember that there is no need to consume excess food at iftaar or sahur. Overeating contradicts the principle aim of fasting.The body is able to adapt to ensure that when we are eating less that normal, stored body fat is used more effectively. It is therefore not necessary to eat more than you normally would.

To remain healthy in Ramadan, you should eat from the major food groups:

a.. bread and cereal
b.. milk and dairy products
c.. fish
d.. meat and poultry
e.. beans
f.. vegetables and fruits

Eating fruits after a meal is strongly recommended and your diet in Ramadan should be as simple as possible and as close as possible to your ‘normal’ diet.

Eating at Sahur:

At the time of Sahur you should eat those foods which are ‘slow-digesting’ so that you are provided with a slow release of energy over a long period of time (about 8 hours). Examples of these foods are thosemade of grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and unpolished (brown) rice.

Eating at Iftaar

‘Fast-digesting’ foods (which only last 3-4 hours) would be better taken at iftaar so that blood sugar levels return to normal as soon as possible. Fast-burning food include those that contain sugar and white flour. Dates are an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium and have, of course, been recommended by Prophet Muhammad pbuh.

Fried foods, very spicy foods and foods containing too much sugar, such as sweets, can cause health problems and should be limited in Ramadan. They cause indigestion, heartburn and weight problems.

Fasting often causes an increase in stomach acidity which can leave you with a burning feeling, heaviness in the stomach and a sour mouth. You can overcome this by eating foods rich in fibre such as whole wheat bread, vegetables, hummus, beans and fruits. These foods cause the muscles to start working and digestion to increase – which reduces the amount of acid build-up in the stomach.

Drink plenty of water and juices between iftaar and sleep to avoid dehydration and encourage detoxification. Avoid drinking large amounts of drinks containing caffeine eg tea, coffee, cola etc, especially at sahur.

For example, drinking too much tea will increase your urine output and cause the loss of valuable minerals from your diet.

Fruits such as bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates – but they may cause constipation. So drink plenty of fluids if you like your bananas!

Everyone is recommended to engage in some form of light exercise, such as stretching or walking. Walking to the Masjid for tarawih is an excellent idea!

Advice for the Sick

If you are genuinely sick, you are exempt from fasting in Ramadan. However, if you still feel that you must fast, please obtain medical advice from a qualified health professional.

If your illness is temporary and you need to take, for example, antibiotics, do tell your doctor that you are fasting and inshaAllah he
will prescribe medication that need only be taken once or twice a day – rather than 3 to 4 times a day.

Some people who suffer from mild forms of angina take GTN tablets – their doctor may be able to prescribe patches for them instead. By using a patch, the medicine enters the body through the skin and not the mouth so the fast would not be broken. Again, please consult your doctor as patches are not suitable for all.

People taking medication for high blood pressure should also see their doctor if they are taking medicines called diuretics (which could causedehydration if you are fasting) or if they are taking other tablets for blood pressure more than once or twice a day. The doctor may be able to prescribe tablets that can be taken just once or twice a day.

Many muslims, especially of Asian descent, have diabetes. The International Journal of Ramadan Fasting Research has suggested that diabetic patients who are controlled by their diet should fast and hopefully their diabetes may improve with weight reduction. InshaAllah. Diabetic patients who take tablets to control their diabetes should be very careful if they decide to fast and should consult their doctor to make sure that their dose of is suitable for them. If they develop low blood sugar symptoms in the daytime, they should end their fast immediately. Diabetic people who take insulin should also consult their doctor so that their dose of insulin can be adjusted if necessary. In all cases, blood sugar levels should be checked throughout the day.

In summary: Islam offers an exemption to the sick from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. If however you are sick and you feel that you still want to fast, remember that your pharmacist or local doctor is available if you need any advice.

May Allah swt aza wa’jal have mercy and forgive us all and accept all our fasts, prayers and good deeds, Ameen.

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