The mouth-watering delicacies during Iftar and Suhoor can be quite tempting making it relatively easy to over-indulge and forget about a balanced, nutritious diet.
This can take its toll on vital organs in your body and affect your bones, in particular.
Here, Dr. Ahmed Hassoun outlines his best pieces of advice to help ensure that your bones remain healthy and strong during Ramadan.
He adds: “While Ramadan is a month of strong will power and self-control, it is also a month when people tend to indulge in the wrong food habits. Therefore, it is very important to eat a balanced diet during the lftar celebrations, especially – helping to keep bones healthy. Calcium is an essential nutrient for healthy bones and one must ensure an adequate intake of calcium during this holy month.
“Indulge more in raw dairy products and green vegetables as they have the highest amount of calcium.”
1. ENSURE SUFFICIENT CALCIUM INTAKE
The body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. An adult requires about 1000 to 1200mg of calcium per day which is essential for healthy bones.
During Ramadan, most people do not consume the required amount of calcium and this results in your body removing it from bones in order to maintain blood calcium levels. Dairy products are good sources of calcium so include grilled halloumi or a glass of fresh laban at Iftar time fit the bill nicely. Yoghurt with berries and nuts are also ideal for Suhoor as it is light on the stomach and helps with keeping the thirst pangs at bay during the day.
2. CHOOSE SENSIBLY
With Iftar and Suhoor buffets at every nook and corner, it is easy to over-eat.
But, you can replace juices and sugary fizzy drinks with yoghurt-based offerings or no sugar-added milkshakes – this is a healthier option.
Similarly, instead of piling a plate high with lasagna and rice dishes – make vegetables like carrots, beans and broccoli and leafy foods such as spinach as the star of your plate – leaving lasagna with more of a supporting role. Instead of traditional iftar sweets like baklava and basbousa, which are high in sugar, look for desserts containing dairy ingredients – rice pudding and mahalabia are good examples.
The hot summer months coupled with Ramadan means a dip in energy levels and residents are usually like to stay indoors.
Just after the light Iftar, ensure you have enough fluids and engage in light cardio exercises – follow a Zumba or aerobics video or do a brisk 20 minute walk on the treadmill – as well as some strengthening exercises like squats, lunges and sit-ups. Taraweeh prayers are also considered as good exercises.
4. SUN EXPOSURE
Vitamin D is essential for optimum bone health and is mainly absorbed by our body through adequate sun exposure.
Even though we enjoy year-long sunshine in the UAE during the summer months, due to the intensity of the heat, residents avoid the sun at all cost. Prolonged lack of exposure can mean weaker bones and result in conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. It is important to have a sufficient level of Vitamin D (25 OH D) which is generally feasible by taking about 1000iu of Vitamin D3 daily.