Safe Ramadan Practices during COVID-19
Most people in the UAE observe the Holy month of Ramadan by gathering with friends and family to break the fast after sunset and before dawn. It’s reasonable for Muslims to increasingly visit mosques and spend more hours praying during this month. Some even spend the last 10 days of Ramadan at the mosque. This year’s Ramadan will be celebrated as the whole world battles with the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is transmitted by close contact with others; by contact with contaminated surfaces and droplets from infected people. Many countries have measures to prevent and fight the spread of the Coronavirus even during Ramadan.
The Coronavirus and Fasting
One of the many questions most Muslims ask is whether there are any implications of fasting during the COVID-19. There is no evidence to show that fasting can increase the risk of contacting the Coronavirus. Intermittent fasting can increase stress in your body by temporarily altering your cardiac rhythm and also increase your cortisol levels.
Intermittent fasting sparks your metabolism to change from glucose to ketone-based energy; this stimulates cellular stress resistance, reverses immunosuppression, and increases hemopoietic stem cells self-renewal. As a result, oxidative stress and inflammation decrease. There will be an increase in oxidative stress levels without increasing your risk of infections or cortisol levels.
Most Middle East countries have high prevalence in cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular diseases. These factors can worsen clinical outcomes of COVID-19 patients. Intermittent fasting improves your cardio-metabolic profile, for instance, it improves blood pressure, lipid profile, insulin resistance, glucose tolerance, and body weight.
How to Have a Safe Ramadan during COVID-19
COVID-19 guidelines should still apply during Ramadan. Although vaccination has kicked off in many countries, the pandemic still prevails. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the guidelines while fasting to prevent infections.
Here is how to have a safe and enjoyable Ramadan during the Coronavirus.
Don’t Skip Sleep/Rest
Although Ramadan is mostly about prayer, don’t be tempted to stay up late; you should get at least 8 hours of sleep. Quality sleep goes hand-in-hand with a healthy body; a good night’s sleep is more important when you are fasting. This is because your body does not receive a constant supply of essential nutrients. Your blood glucose levels drop, leading to energy loss and lower productivity.
Also, avoid oversleeping or under-sleeping; a lack of sleep can take a toll on your mood and make you feel cranky, which is not a good thing when you’re fasting for religious fulfillment. Inadequate sleep is one of the fastest ways to weaken your body because your energy levels are low because of lack of food, leading to a quick physical decline. It’s wise to have a PCR test at home if you feel unwell to determine whether you’re infected with the COVID-19.
Your entire body depends on water for functionality. Your body loses fluids every day through urination, sweating, and other bodily functions. If you live in a hot environment, it’s vital to stay hydrated. Fasting makes you thirsty; this is why most people drink a lot of water after breaking fast. Hydration should continue throughout the day; you can do this by pacing your water/liquid consumption throughout the day.
Drink 2 liters of water; you can take 1 or 2 glasses at once between Iftar and Imsak. Also, cut down on sodas and coffee intake instead substitute it with soups, vegetables, and fruits rich in water. Dehydration reduces attention, cognitive abilities, and memory. Hydration restores essential minerals and reduces fatigue, spasms, cramps, and muscle weakness.
Fasting changes how you eat and your eating frequency. You should consume essential vitamins and minerals to maintain a strong immune system. Be conscious about your sugar and salt intake. Although you might have cravings, don’t satisfy them with energy drinks and sodas, which are high in sugar. Instead, choose fruits that don’t have processed sugars; they provide nutrients and energy. You can eat fruits as a part of pre-dusk or pre-dawn meals. Eat bread and cereals because they are full of carbs; they are essential during Ramadan because they provide your body with energy throughout the day. Great pre-dawn meals can include legumes, oats, rice, and whole wheat.
Post-dusk meals can include vegetables because they are easy and light to digest. They provide your body with nutrition while staying light on the stomach. Also, include dairy products; they provide protein and other essential nutrients. Dairy products are vital for a balanced diet; for instance, curd contains good bacteria that keep your digestive system healthy as you fast.
Use Your Mornings
Schedule more challenging tasks and chores in the morning if you can; this is when you have more energy to do tasks that require more energy and concentration. In essence, do important tasks in the morning.
Wudu involves cleaning body organs before prayers; this encourages healthy hygiene. Ensure that all handwashing facilities have adequate water and soap; use hand rub with at least 70% alcohol content. You can also use disposable with disposable lids and liners. Use a personal rug at the mosque to lay it over the carpet. Clean frequently touched objects like light switches, doorknobs, and stair railings with disinfectant.
Don’t listen to anybody who tells you to use tobacco during Ramadan, especially with the Coronavirus pandemic. Smokers might already have reduced lung capacity or lung disease; this increases the risk of COVID-19. Contaminated cigarettes or fingers can spread the Coronavirus. Using waterpipes can also spread the virus.
Although you might feel exhausted during Ramadan, it is unhealthy to skip exercise for an entire month, especially since you mostly eat at night. Moderate exercise is helpful because it helps to reduce that sluggish feeling. It’s advisable to wait a few hours after Iftar to exercise.
Many Muslims are worried and confused about observing the holy month of Ramadan in the context of the Coronavirus. You can still fast, stay healthy, and keep yourself and others safe by following these tips.