Dubai: Fasting during Ramadan can have positive health benefits for people suffering from cardiovascular disease, obesity and kidney disease if conducted properly, health specialists of the Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) said at a media round table on Monday.
The panellists included Dr Rita Nawar, from the Weight Care Clinic at DHCC; Dr Adel Obaid, renal physician at Medlink Clinic, DHCC; and Dr Zuhair Yousuf, Interventional Cardiologist from Mediclinic City Hospital, DHCC gave important pointers to optimising health during Ramadan.
Pointing to the alarming statistics of the UAE being one of the leading countries in the region for overweight and obese adults in the age group of 15 and above, Dr Nawar said residents had a golden opportunity to reduce their weight if they observed the fast, keeping in mind a balanced nutrition. Citing the case of a patient at her clinic, Dr Nawar said having low carbohydrate diet (about 120gm per day) and choosing foods with low glycaemic index packed with dense nutrients was a good way to reduce weight.
“For the predawn meal she advised having complex carbohydrates (foods that get absorbed and assimilated slowly by the body giving a feeling of fullness for long) such as wholegrains, good quality protein in meat or fish eggs or dairy products, nuts, and avocados, among other things. “Avoid caffeine during suhoor as it is a diuretic and skip having spicy food as these are bound to make you feel thirsty during the day.”
For sunset meals she advised people to avoid ingesting large amounts of fried or foods high in carbohydrates and also asked people to increase their fluid intake during non-fasting hours to keep themselves well hydrated.
The calming effect of Ramadan
Dr Yousuf said that if observed in the right spirit, Ramadan fasting not only helps you cut excess calories and ease the strain on the heart, it also helps smokers quit smoking due to long hours without nicotine. It keeps the mind calm, and changes the body’s physiology, including hormonal levels. “Ramadan is a period for improving cardiovascular health as these factors have a positive impact on the heart,” he said.
Dr Adel Obaid said while it was possible for people with chronic kidney disease from stage one to three to fast under specialist medical supervision, even those in stage three and four stages were inspired to fast as they felt it helped empower them spiritually. “But every single patient with any kind of kidney disease must observe the fast only after thorough medical examination and under medical supervision as kidney disease has a complex etiology and the level of renal impairment dictates the amount of fluid, the kind of medication, adjustment of the dosage and frequency of the medication that may have to be altered if the patient is observing a fast. Each patient, wanting to observe the fast, has to be considered on an individual basis for it,” he cautioned.