How to avoid dehydration during Ramadan
'Keep yourself hydrated', 'drink sufficient water', we hear this time and again. This is because water and fluids have an important role to play in maintaining your body temperature, preventing infection, delivering nutrients to the cells and helping organs function properly.
While it is important to keep your body well-hydrated every day, this becomes even more essential during the month of Ramadan. But considering the long span of fasting during the month, this can be tricky too. As the weather gets warmer, your body requires more water to compensate the water lost due to the rise in temperature.
Lack of fluids can lead to issues such as dehydration headache, digestive problems, constipation, acidity and more. Therefore it is important to ensure that you keep your body well hydrated during Ramadan.
In general, it is advisable to drink between 8-12 glasses of water every day, and this stays the same during Ramadan too. But as the time period to consume water and food is short, it may not be possible to drink as much water; moreover, drinking large quantities of water at one time is not advisable. Therefore, you can meet the recommended fluid intake by consuming water along with fluid-rich food.
Whenever possible, try adding at least half a teaspoon of chia seeds to your drinks, such as laban, lemon water, and herbal teas. These tiny seeds soak up the liquid they are placed in and retain the water. Therefore, as the body digests the seeds, the water is slowly absorbed, keeping hydration level up throughout the day. It is best to add chia seeds to a glass of milk and have it especially during suhoor time. This will help keep you sufficiently hydrated till iftar.
Water comes first. No drink can compensate for it, as water contains no calories. Drink 1-2 glasses of water every hour between iftar and suhoor.
Aerated drinks or soft drinks should be avoided completely, during Ramadan, as not only are they loaded with calories but its sugar content dehydrates the body.
Avoid fruit juices, especially the bottled type. Instead opt for freshly squeezed juices and don't strain away the pulp or fibre, even better would be to eat water-rich fruits, such as watermelon and oranges instead.
Restrict your intake of caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee to the bare minimum as they have a diuretic effect, so when we drink them we have to compensate it with more water.
As it may be difficult to consume too much water in a short time span, I always recommend consuming fluid rich food like salads, soups and fruits as they are a great source of additional water. Opt for fruits such as water melon, orange and strawberries, add nutrition- and water-rich ingredients such as quinoa, lettuce and cucumber to your salads and consume a healthy grain soups every day.
Avoid salty food, pickles, canned food and other food that contain high levels of sugar and salt as they dehydrate the body.
Stick to age-old traditional directives and break your fast with dates and laban or room temperature water and post-Maghreb prayer, start your main meal with soups or a salad.
Get used to drinking enough water from the period between iftar and suhoor and divide the intake of water to half glass of room temperature water every half an hour and add herbal tea to it. Avoid cold water as it might disturb your body immunity.
Dr. Dana Al Hamwi is clinical dietician with India Gate, KRBL Ltd.