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Best food items for the Fasting Season

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Fasting can be described as“extreme restriction or complete abstinence from food for a period of time”. Although the proponents of fasting for Muslims, Christians and other religious beliefs engage in it for spiritual reasons, including penitence there are some health benefits traceable to it. These include weight loss, detoxification, rejuvenation and treatment of various conditions, such as cancer and arthritis. However, there is inadequate evidence to support these claims, according to the American Cancer Society.

On the physical side fasting has its own disadvantages. Amongst these is the loss of muscle tissue because when you stop eating, your body begins to get energy by breaking down your muscle tissue for protein within 12 to 16 hours. After two days, your body does begin to burn fat for energy, but keeps using protein from your muscles for 21 days, according to the Boston Globe Online. Fasting also decreases the rate your body burns calories because it slows down your metabolism.

Fasting leads to low blood sugar and your body’s breakdown of muscle protein for energy, which generates ammonia and urea as byproducts. Irritability, dizziness, headache, tiredness, weakness and depression can result. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and people who react to drugs are therefore, advised not to fast.

To ensure that you stay healthy during a fast, consult a medical professional if this is your first time fasting or if you are on a fast longer than three to five days.

Pre-Dawn Meal

Considered and listed below are certain food items nutritionists recommend for pre-dawn meal calledSuhoor. First on the list are fruits and vegetables because they are rich in fibre. They increase the feeling of fullness and help prevent constipation. They also contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are vital for good health. Similarly, high-fibre carbohydrate foods like brown rice and whole meal bread take longer to digest, helping to sustain energy levels longer.

Great sources of protein while limiting your fat intake are skinless chicken, fish and low-fat dairy products. Furthermore, they help repair and build body tissue, and build up your immune system. Consuming high-calcium dairy products such as Peak Milkalso helps maintain strong bones. Those that are lactose intolerant can choose lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soybean milk.​

According to Healthy Eating Magazine, there are many types of fasting diets and each one has its own rules about what you can or cannot drink. While most diets allow for an assortment of foods, partial fasting diets may restrict the type of food you’re allowed to eat or drink. As well, in a dry fast, not even water is allowed, which is considered essential for all of fasts.The U.S. Department of Agriculturerecommends getting a variety of vegetables from each of the subgroups such as leafy greens, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables for balanced nutrition

Detoxification and Nutrition

Fasting diet supporters say it gives the digestive system a rest and encourages detoxification. However, the NYU Langone Medical Center states that no scientific evidence supports the benefits of detoxification techniques, including fasting. And, to ensure you receive all essential nutrients during a fast, eat a healthy balance of foods, including a variety of vegetables, and emphasize whole-grains and low-fat cooking methods.

Drink Water

Water is essential for all fasts, including juice fasting because the body suffers from dehydration. While MedlinePlus recommends drinking a minimum of six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water, you need to drink more while fasting. Jennifer Thompson, author of “Water Fasting” recommends drinking an additional 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight. The recommendation may increase if you are exposed to hot weather, as with Nigerians or if you are participating in strenuous exercise while fasting, especially artisans, drivers and farmers.

Other Liquids

Freshly made juices or light, low-fat broths and non-caffeinated teas are allowed when you’re on a juice fast or partial fast. For a juice fast, fresh juices should be made with a juicer to remove as much insoluble fiber as possible and to give your digestive system a rest. Broths should contain no solid and as little fat as possible. Teas are allowed on all juice and partial fasts, though caffeine-free choices such as decaffeinated teas and herbal teas are preferred.

Cooked Foods

In general, eating low-fat, low-sodium foods like vegetables, fruits and whole-grains are recommended. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, but some fasts allow for cooked foods. Partial fasts allow for cooked foods with some restrictions, such as eating only cooked brown rice, or intermittent fasting, where you are only allowed to eat during restricted times. To get cooked foods in drinkable form, puree cooked foods with a little bit of water.

Breaking Fast

For Muslims, breaking Ramadan fast with dates is a popular Islamic tradition. According to experts in Birmingham City University, it seems that the practice is more than just a tradition and dates are quite effective, especially in restoring energy after a day-long fasting.

This is because dates contain glucose, fructose and sucrose as well as fibre, potassium and vitamin A. With so much nutritional values, the dry fruit is indeed a great food to consume at the end of the fast, said nutritionist Rita Ramayulis from the Indonesian Nutritionists Association, according to Jakarta Post.

In her words, “wet or dry dates are as good. One piece of date contains glucose, fructose, sucrose, fiber, potassium and vitamin A. The combination of sucrose, glucose and fructose can increase blood sugar levels, and stabilize them at the same time”.

Another big bonus of dates is that they do not spike your blood sugar level and are free from cholesterol.Dates are rich in protein and they help one to stay fit. Also, the iron contained in them can promote healthy teeth and be beneficial for people who suffer from iron deficiency.

In the absence of dates, meals rich in the aforementioned nutrients should be included in meals for breaking fast.Foods naturally high in glucose include honey, dried fruit and fruit juices. Those blessed with sucrose include sweetened breakfast cereals, chocolate, peanut butter, ice cream, puddings and sweetened yogurts. For example, 100 grams of both frosted corn flakes and puffed wheat contain almost 38 grams of sucrose each, whereas the same portion of milk chocolatehas about 47 grams. Variety of beans, fruits as well as vegetables are rich in fibre. Go for them.

What matters in all of the meals you choose during fasting is to stay strong and healthy.

 

Ayo OyozeBaje

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