BEIJING, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — International SOS is providing travellers and expatriates with seven key tips for staying healthy during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.
Dr Salwan Ibrahim, Deputy Regional Medical Director for the Middle East Region at International SOS, said:
"The holy month of Ramadan is an important time for Muslims worldwide. It is a time of reflection, devotion to God and self-control. From a medical point of view it is important to stay healthy during this period. That means staying hydrated, eating wisely, and making sure to take sufficient rest."
Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan. This year the holy month falls during the hot season in the Middle East and North Africa and during the time of year with the longest hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere.
Dr Ibrahim said:
"The main risks of fasting are low blood sugar and dehydration, and with Ramadan falling during the height of summer, it’s important that people are particularly aware of the risks this year. Fasters should adopt routines gradually and be moderate in their eating and drinking habits during the hours of darkness. Business travellers and expatriates should consider the advice regardless of whether they are working in one fixed location or if they are on the move"
International SOS’ seven tips for the Holy Month are:
- Eat moderately at Iftar – When breaking the fast it is important to avoid large intakes of sugar and fatty foods, which can disturb the metabolism and cause dizziness, headaches and fatigue. Break the fast with dates and yoghurt, water and fruit juice and then wait 10 minutes before consuming a sensible portion of further food, which should be rich in minerals.
- Make sure to eat Suhour – With sunrise occurring early in the Northern Hemisphere on the year’s longest days, there is a temptation to sleep or simply drink water rather than rising to eat a proper Suhour. International SOS’ doctors advise that it is better always to eat Suhour, and to choose complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread, barley and lentils to provide energy throughout the day of fasting ahead.
- Get sufficient sleep – The holy month of Ramadan is a time of increased prayer and gatherings of family and friends. Frequently this can mean less opportunity to sleep during the night. Fasters should make sure to get eight hours of sleep in every 24 hour period, even if this is split into several separate periods of rest.
- Adapt your exercise routine – It is still possible to follow weight loss and exercise routines during the Holy Month of Ramadan. However, exercise plans should be moderated to allow for the change in eating patterns. Fasters should concentrate on lighter exercises, such as brisk walking, and pay particular attention to the time of day they choose to take exercise; International SOS recommends waiting 2-3 hours after breaking fast before a work-out.
- Managing medication and chronic illness – Fasters with chronic health conditions should consult a doctor for advice on how fasting may affect their health. As a general rule, medication usually taken at breakfast can be taken at Iftar, whilst medications usually taken at dinner can be taken at Suhour. Diabetics should consult a physician for advice on how they can continue to take Insulin and should monitor blood sugar carefully around mealtimes.
- Plan workload carefully – Although in many countries work hours are reduced during Ramadan, it is advisable to plan workloads to minimise fatigue. Work that requires heavy concentration should be carried out in the early morning hours. Where possible, working fasters should work at intervals throughout the day to avoid unnecessary strain rather than attempting one long work period.
- Be extra cautious on the road – Low blood sugar from fasting can seriously affect fasters’ capabilities and concentration behind the wheel. In many Muslim countries, traffic will be heavy in the hour before sunset, as people return home to break the fast. Traffic accidents tend to peak at this time. Avoid road travel later in the day whenever possible and exercise extra caution if travel is required. This may include choosing to travel with a passenger who can help keep the driver alert. It is always better to take regular breaks rather than continuing to drive for long periods of time whilst drowsy or otherwise impaired.