Tips For Staying Hydrated During The Ramadan Fasting Month

It’s currently the Islamic religious festival of Ramadan, which is observed with fasting from dawn until sunset. Most Muslims will abstain from food and drink during daylight hours for a whole month. The exact dates of Ramadan vary because it starts when the new moon first appears in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar


This year, Ramadan began on the 10 March, and it will end on the 9 April with the traditional Eid ul Fitr festival when thanks are offered to Allah. The fasting is a way of allowing Muslims to reflect on their faith and renew their knowledge of the Qur'an, and also to think about those less fortunate than themselves and carry out good deeds.


During the fasting period, Muslims will usually have one meal known as the suhoor just before dawn, and another known as the iftar directly after sunset. The prolonged period in between when no fluids or food are taken can present challenges in staying adequately hydrated.


Although pregnant and postpartum women, children under the age of 14, the ill, and the aged are exempt from fasting, it can still pose risks to even people in full health. The human body is made up from approximately 60 per cent water, and furthermore we gain about 20 per cent of our fluid intake from food.


Even small changes can lead to a fluid imbalance, putting an individual at risk of headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, and dry mouth. We continually lose fluids throughout the day as we breathe, sweat, and go to the bathroom. If they are not replaced by food and water, we not only become at risk of dehydration, but also of an electrolyte deficiency.


Electrolytes are essential vitamins and minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, chloride, and sodium, that are lost through bodily fluids, particularly perspiration. It’s why endurance athletes often top up with oral electrolyte tablets during long-distance races. Electrolytes help the body to absorb water and to maintain an optimum fluid balance.


Tips to stay hydrated during ramadan fasting

Observers of Ramandan need to take extra care to maintain hydration and electrolyte levels during fasting. It’s a time when even healthy people may lose weight, feel less energetic than usual, and be prone to digestive issues such as constipation and bloating. Over time, chronic dehydration can lead to dry skin, brain fog, stiffness of the joints, and fainting or fits.


It’s advisable to hydrate in smaller amounts for the first two hours before and after the fasting period, rather than drink a large volume of water in one go. This is because the body can’t process a sudden influx of fluid as well, and most of it will pass straight through. 


Maintaining a good electrolyte balance can help, because they facilitate water absorption, meaning that it is easier to quickly replenish and also to retain fluids. 


When eating meals at either end of the fasting period, try to avoid foods that are high in salt or adding salt to cooking, because this can elevate sodium levels too high, leading to thirst. Include fruits and vegetables that have plenty of water content, such as oranges, watermelon, berries, tomatoes, celery, and cucumber. 


Other good meals and snacks include semi-liquid foods such as soups, custard, jellies, yoghurt, stews, and curries with plenty of sauce. Fried and grilled foods tend to be drier, so limit your intake of these. Avoid foods with a lot of added sugar, because this can increase thirst. Opt for natural sweeteners such as fruit instead. 


Choose well-balanced meals with plenty of fibre, complex carbohydrates and protein, that will help to release slow and sustainable energy throughout the day. Avoid convenience foods that are loaded with white carbs and sugar, because these will cause your energy levels to spike and then quickly crash. 


During the hours when drinking is permitted, avoid fizzy drinks and caffeinated drinks, because they can cause you to lose more fluids through urination, and also further aggravate digestive issues.  


It’s also recommended to avoid smoking, because this can cause a dry mouth that contributes to thirst. Wherever possible, avoid going out in the warm sun, because this will increase body temperature and trigger sweating, which is its natural cooling mechanism. 


Physical exercise should be carried out outside of the fasting period, when there is enough time to replenish lost fluids and top up on nutrients. Taking a rehydration tablet can help the body to recover fluid balance more efficiently.