Kick-start Healthy Habits this Ramadan
Nobody wants to get sick during Ramadan. At this time of year, we’re more aware than ever of the importance of personal cleanliness. It’s healthy habits – like washing your hands with soap before eating and after going to the toilet – that keep you strong and healthy, fighting off the flu and diarrhoea to make sure you and your family are ready to do their activities during the fasting month, home-coming and celebrating. Our bodies get weaker due to the long periods without food, especially during the heat of the summer. It has been reported that the general state of the public health declines during the month of Ramadan.
Lifebuoy’s Director of Global Research, Dr Vibhav R Sanzgiri, explains, “Many people think that diarrhoea is caused by having too much food after fasting, or from eating food that’s too spicy, but it is in fact more commonly brought on by a gastrointestinal (GI) infection that’s been caused by a bacteria, virus or parasite. It is spread through dirty hands, contaminated food or water and direct contact with faecal matter. So one of the best preventative measures to take is washing your hands with soap before preparing food and eating to fight the spread of illness. Research done by the London School of Hygiene shows that washing hands with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoea up to 47%.”
Lifebuoy’s top tips for keeping healthy during Ramadan:
1. Be clean in the kitchen: during fasting month, mothers are busier in the kitchen preparing for pre-dawn meals, break fasting, and special foods for Eid. Contaminated food can cause diarrhoea. As well as washing your hands thoroughly with Lifebuoy soap before cooking and after handling meat, always wash utensils properly, cook food to the recommended temperatures, and rinse raw fruit and vegetables thoroughly with clean water.
2. Choose carefully the food at Ramadan bazaars: and be careful to wash your hands before eating it. Look for stalls that look like they follow hygiene standards – for example, the server is wearing plastic gloves and apron. Don’t buy from stalls that leave the food uncovered, and don’t buy food that’s been handled with bare hands.
3. Stay hydrated: drink plenty of fluids, around eight glasses, between Iftar and Suhoor to avoid headaches. Water is better than caffeinated drinks; caffeinated drinks are diuretics and can therefore deplete the body of vital fluid and minerals.
4. Eat a nutritious Suhoor: as the last meal eaten before the fast begins, it is especially important that Suhoor is nutritious and long-lasting so that the body is able to function normally during the day. Eat a balanced meal consisting of complex carbohydrates and fibre-rich foods with some fat and protein, and drink plenty of water.
5. Don’t overeat at Iftar: having fasted throughout the day, it is important to pace yourself at Iftar. The body wants to store as much food as possible after a period of starvation, so eating too much too quickly can result in too much sugar in the blood. Break your fast with dates and either milk, water, yogurt or fruit juice, followed by a normal sized nutritious meal.
6. Remind your children to develop their own daily routine: by washing hands with soap before joining you in breaking the fast. Clean Families, Healthy Families! Ramadan brings families, neighbours and communities together, so take this opportunity to spread the word about the importance of keeping healthy.