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Wednesday June 12, 2024

Fasting may be beneficial for patients with heart diseases and hypertension

By Muhammad Qasim
March 27, 2023

Rawalpindi: Month-long fasting in Ramazan, according to health experts, may be beneficial for patients suffering from hypertension or heart disease provided they have taken proper guidance from their physicians regarding their diet and medication.

Medically, it is proven that fasting has great physiological, spiritual, and psychological benefits both for healthy persons and patients suffering from hypertension or heart disease. Health experts say that most patients suffering from hypertension or heart disease feel better when opting for fasting during Ramazan, however, they need proper guidance on food and medication from their physicians.

Islamic fasting brings discipline and contentment keeping a person away from all the scourge of modern life. It regulates body functions and helps control blood pressure. Fasting is a natural way to normalize body weight. Fasting dissolves all unnecessary and unnatural fat deposits in the body reducing the risk factor of heart attack and a number of other diseases.

Experts say that the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, and an unhealthy diet (high sugar, high carbohydrate, and excess hydrogenated oils). Through fasting, one can avoid the risk factors while offering prayers is a great exercise.

Experts say that moderate use of monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, canola oil, and various dry fruits such as almond, walnut, peanuts, etc is safe for heart patients however they should avoid Trans fats found in foods like French fries, chips, crackers, cakes, biscuits, samosas, pakoras, patties, sweets, vanaspati ghee, and hydrogenated oils.

Patients suffering from heart disease or hypertension should avoid excessive use of beef, vanaspati ghee, margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils, refined flour products, instant rice, potatoes, and cream not only in Ramazan but also in routine. Experts suggest that heart patients should replace a high carbohydrate, a starchy diet with a high protein diet including fish and fish oils.

Experts say that heart patients while opting for fasting should eat more vegetables especially leafy vegetables and salads. They should eat fruits but avoid fruit trifles. They should use more lemon. They may use milk and yogurt but without cream. They should use brown flour/bread, simple ‘chapati’, and avoid ‘parathas’. Heart patients should use less salt and spices. While fasting, a heart patient should drink a lot of water.

It is important that in a number of cases, the dose of anti-hypertensive drugs is decreased during fasting provided a patient avoids oily and salty food at the time of ‘sehar’ and ‘iftar’. A patient with heart disease must consult his or her physician before going fasting.

In order to get the full benefits of fasting in Ramazan, one should eat a healthy diet in ‘iftar’ and ‘sehar’ such as ‘fruit chaat’, and ‘vegetable salads’ along with macaronis; simple chapatti, whole wheat bread, pulses, fish, poultry, milk, yogurt, dates, fresh fruits juices, soups, boiled rice, potatoes, and peas, etc and should avoid unhealthy diets such as deep-fried foods including ‘samosas’, ‘pakoras’, ‘kachoris’, ‘jalaibis’, and ‘parathas’, excessive usage of spices, tea, coffee, cola or other beverages, etc., because all these foods increase your blood Low-Density Lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) which is bad for health and heart.

Experts say that one should limit the amount of sweet food in Ramazan. Consumption of excessive amounts of food during ‘sehar’, or ‘iftar’ is also a dangerous practice. One should have a modest dinner within one-and-a-half hours after ‘iftar’ and should drink as much water as possible between ‘iftar’ and bedtime and at least 3-4 glasses of water

at the time of ‘sehar’.