The mouth-watering delicacies during Iftar and Suhoor can be quite tempting making it relatively easy to over-indulge and forget the balanced, nutritious diet. This can take a toll on vital organs in your body and most particularly your bones. Dr. Ahmed Hassoun Consultant Endocrinologist Specialized in Diabetes, Osteoporosis & Metabolic Disorders at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai outlines some simple tips to follow to ensure that your bones remain healthy and strong during Ramadan.
Ensure sufficient calcium intake: The body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. An adult requires about 1000 to 1200mg of Calcium per day which is essential for healthy bones. During Ramadan, most people do not consume the required amount of Calcium resulting in the body removing the element from bones in order to maintain blood calcium levels. Dairy products are good sources of calcium so include grilled halloumi or glass of fresh laban at Iftar time. Yoghurt with berries and nuts are ideal for Suhoor as it is light on the stomach and helps with keeping the thirst pangs at bay during the day.
Choose sensibly: With Iftar and Suhoor buffets at every nook and corner, it is easy to over eat food of the wrong sources. Juices and fizzy drinks high in sugar can be replaced with yoghurt based drinks or no sugar added milkshakes. Similarly instead of a piling a plate high with lasagna and rice dishes – make vegetables like carrots, beans and broccoli and leafy foods like spinach the star of your plate while lasagna plays a supporting role. Instead of traditional iftar sweets like baklava and basbousa which are high in sugar look for desserts high in dairy like rice pudding or mahalabia.
Exercise: The hot summer months coupled with Ramadan means a dip in energy levels and residents are usually like to stay indoors laying around. Just after the light Iftar, ensure you have enough fluids and engage in light cardio exercises – follow a Zumba or aerobics video or do a brisk 20 minute walk on the treadmill – and some strengthening exercises like squats, lunges and sit-ups. Taraweeh prayers are also considered as good exercises.
Sun Exposure: Vitamin D is essential for optimum bone health and is mainly absorbed by our body through adequate sun exposure. Even though we enjoy all year long sunshine in the UAE, during the summer months due to the intensity of the heat residents avoid the sun at all cost. Prolonged lack of exposure can result in weakened bones resulting in conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. It is important to have sufficient level of Vitamin D (25 OH D) which is generally feasible by taking about 1000iu of Vitamin D3 daily.
“While Ramadan is a month of strong will power and self-control, it is also a month when people tend to indulge in wrong food habits. Therefore, it is very important to eat a balanced diet during the lftar celebrations especially to keep the bones healthy. Calcium is an essential nutrient for healthy bones and one must ensure an adequate intake of calcium during this holy month. Indulge more in raw dairy products and green vegetables as they have the highest amount of calcium” said Dr. Ahmed Hassoun Consultant Endocrinologist Specialized in Diabetes, Osteoporosis & Metabolic Disorders at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai.