Ramadan is a very special time as it offers a true test to the mind and the body. All that is activated (or supposed to get activated) is the spirit. Special prayers are nothing but energy-giving spiritual food that help you tide through the month and allow you to understand your own body better.
While we all know the awesome benefits of fasting in allowing our body to rest and undergo metabolic detoxification and in clearing up toxins from our body, the crucial part of restoring and resetting lies completely in our hands during the eating hours. This means that while we fast 12 to 14 hours during Ramadan, the 8 hours or so that we eat, if done wisely, can heal and repair the gut microbiome and build an entire colony of healthy gut microbes in the entire GI tract. A nutrient-dense diet assists the body, not only in building healthy bacteria but also in supporting the detoxification process during the elimination process.
The tips provided in this protocol can help you optimize digestion and strengthen the gut to promote optimal GI and immune functioning.
- Experiment with eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet. These include refined sugars found in bakery items made with white flour and table sugar. Not only do they spike your insulin levels, but also leave you craving more sugar and food during the day.
- Try avoiding conventionally raised processed meat such as frozen sausages and burgers as they are loaded with more hormones and added antibiotics rather than the good proteins or fats that the body needs.
- Increase fiber intake via a wide variety of colorful vegetables, fruits, and foods containing prebiotic resistant starch that stimulates good bacteria in the intestine. These include lentils, white beans, chickpeas, cooked and cooled potatoes. (Remember to soak all your beans and lentils for at least 10-12 hours to avoid bloating or acid reflux issues)
Here are a few suggestions for Iftaar and Suhoor meals that will nourish and foster a healthy digestive tract.
Break your fast with holy water (with a few rose petals in it to cool the body) and Ajwa dates. Eat a small bowl of fruit with some chia seeds and flax seeds sprinkled on it (both chia and flax are good sources of fiber) before you head for the prayer. However, do this only if you can maintain a gap of at least 30 minutes between fruit and the first solid meal. If you cannot, skip this suggestion.
Iftar Recipe – Chia Mango Bowl
- Chia seeds (2-3 tbsp)
- Mango (1/2 cup)
- Almond milk (1/2 cup)
- Pecans (4)
- Walnuts (4)
- Pumpkin seeds (1 tbsp)
- Flax meal powder (1 tbsp)
- Soak all ingredients in almond milk for 4-6 hours
- Top up with mango before serving
Having good quality fat during suhoor allows for a feeling of satiety and satisfies hunger. Moreover, good fats tone up the liver. Thus, meals eaten at this meal must have a good amount of olive oil, ghee or coconut oil. Secondly, eating plant-based meals at this time will also be beneficial as it will help keep you full for longer besides giving you nutrients.
Consume at least 750 ml water before your prayer. 250 ml of this water can have a few grains of cardamon and a strand of saffron that was soaked a few hours before. This helps prevent dehydration and extreme thirst sensation.
Avoid tea and coffee or fruit or even frozen foods at this hour as it can lead to acidity issues and disrupt the gut lining.
Lastly getting good sleep is very important – either at night for a couple of hours or during the day, especially between noon and the early evening prayer as it offers rest and rejuvenation.