Abstaining from food in Ramadan is generally bearable; it is water we struggle without, particularly in hot countries.
Since water makes up around 70 per cent of our bodies, its importance cannot be ignored. It is crucial for nearly every bodily function: from removal of wastes, assisting digestion, keeping our skin healthy and transporting nutrients around the body.
When you sweat, your body becomes dehydrated, because you are losing more fluid than you are taking in. This creates a disproportion of vital nutrients and minerals.
Not replacing lost nutrients and minerals when you break the fast is unhealthy, and can weaken you to the point where you may not be able to fast the whole length of Ramadan.
Even mild dehydration can affect your day-to-day performance, leaving you fatigued, dizzy and suffering from headaches and a lack of concentration.
To prevent dehydration, here are some helpful suggestions:
- Steer clear of the sun: During the day, wherever possible, stay away from the sun and excessive heat. Remain in a cool and shaded area, wear a cap or a hat and do less strenuous activities.
- Drink water and fluids after Iftar: Normal dehydration post-fast is easily remedied by drinking eight glasses or more of water immediately after Iftar. Try to avoid tea, coffee and sodas, as they contain high levels of caffeine and sugar, which may cause further dehydration.
- Drink traditional Ramadan drinks: The traditional Iftar drink Kamardeen (apricot) dramatically helps in the reduction of discomfort from stomach acid build-up, brought about by the lack of water.
- Replace lost nutrients and minerals: Drink other fluids besides water, such as fruit juices, to replace lost nutrients and minerals. Getting your five portions of fruits and vegetables, particularly watery citrus fruits and strawberries, is also recommended. Fruit juices are plentiful in Vitamin A and calcium, and many are packed with fibre, iron, potassium and other minerals, as well as vitamins C, B1 and B2.
- Take care of your health: To combat potential sickness, due to lack of water, minerals and nutrients, don't over-exert yourself while fasting and remember that you are allowed to break your fast if you absolutely must. You can simply make it up at a later time.
Bonus tip: Liquorice-based drinks such as liquorice tea are abundant in fibre and highly beneficial for your immune system, which can be dramatically weakened due to fasting and dehydration. You can also stave off colds and flus during Ramadan with an age-old preventative drink: half a lemon juice and a spoonful of honey in a mug of boiling water.