With hotels and restaurants offering sumptuous iftar and suhoor spreads this Ramadan, it is easy to overindulge and forget the balanced, nutritious diet. Coupled with that, the summer months are upon us and the high temperatures mean people stay indoors and become inactive. This can take a toll on vital organs in your body and most particularly your bones. Dr. Ehab Saad Mostafa , Consultant Rheumatologist, Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai outlines some simple tips to follow to ensure that your bones remain healthy and strong during the hot summer months and Ramadan:
1. Ensure calcium intake: An adult requires 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.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. 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.
“Ramadan is a month of fasting which results in body detox and we hope through highlighting such tips we help the community make smarter health choices that encompasses the true meaning of the holy month,” said Dr. Shajir Gaffar, CEO – Dubai and Northern Emirates, VPS Healthcare Group. “In a bid to share the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan with our hospital staffs and patients, we are also in the midst of arranging a placid indoor majlis at our hospital to provide traditional hospitality,” he further added.