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NEW YORK: People who haven’t eaten for many hours turn to high-calorie foods like starches and proteins – not vegetables – once they can satisfy their hunger, a new study suggests.
And, researchers found, fasters ended up eating extra of whatever foods they chose to chow down on first at that meal.
The findings carry a message for anyone who goes for long spans of time without eating, researchers said. That includes patients fasting before a procedure or blood test, some dieters and medical interns working long shifts without a snack break, for example.
“I think this really pushes the importance of what (food) options you have in your environment,” said Aner Tal, one of the study’s authors from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York.
Tal told Reuters Health that if he knew he wouldn’t be able to eat for long periods, he would pay extra attention to what types of food he kept at home.
“It would be important to not overstock on unhealthy options,” he said.
For the study, published as a letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Tal and his colleagues recruited 128 students from Cornell University.
The students were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was told not to eat or drink anything after 6 p.m. the day before the lunchtime study. The other group, which acted as a comparison, was able to eat normally.
By the time students sat down for lunch on the test day, the fasting group had not had anything to eat for about 18 hours.
Each student was offered a buffet lunch of dinner rolls, French fries, chicken, cheese, carrots and green beans, while under video surveillance.
Using the video logs, the researchers recorded which foods the students ate off their plates first. They also measured how much students ate by embedding scales in the lunch table.
Forty-three of the original students didn’t follow their assignment and so weren’t included in the main analysis.
Of the remaining 40 fasters, 30 first went for the dinner rolls, French fries, chicken or cheese, compared to 20 of 45 students in the comparison group.
Participants ended up eating almost 47 percent more calories of their first-choice food compared to other menu items.
The study cannot say why some students went for the starches and proteins first, but Tal told Reuters Health it may have something to do with an internal drive to seek high-fat foods after a period of deprivation.
The researchers suggest hospitals and cafeterias who serve people going long periods of time without food should consider these findings and make vegetables and other healthy foods “more convenient, visible, and enticing.”
That, they say, may encourage people to pick healthier foods if they haven’t had a chance to eat for several hours.
In a commentary published with the study, two nutrition researchers suggest the findings may apply to settings outside of hospitals and cafeterias.
They say this type of research is important for people who are experiencing hunger and food insecurity.
“I think we’re just starting to understand some of these factors with obesity, food insecurity and related factors as things that interrelate. I think it will be a missed opportunity if we don’t (look into this),” said Amy Yaroch, one of the commentary’s authors and the director of the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition in Omaha, Nebraska. (Reuters) via: geo.tv
Health is the key to happiness, and what we consume directly affects our health. Islam encourages Muslims to ensure that they are mindful of their health. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Take advantage of the good health before illnesses afflict you”. He also encouraged Muslims to try their best to take up a healthy living lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular mental and physical exercise and a balance between material and spiritual needs.
The month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to focus on bringing back a balanced and healthy lifestyle in our life. Through fasting we begin to learn how to manage our eating habits, how to improve self-control and discipline. This month requires us to give the stomach a break, and by doing so we are able to break down and expel the accumulated toxins from our body. Fasting is complete abstinence from food and drink between dawn / Sahur (the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn) and dusk / Iftar (the food eaten immediately after sunset to break the fast).
The physiological changes that occur during a fast:
For many people, the key question regarding fasting is whether it is good or bad for our health? The answer to this requires a quick overview of what happens inside the body during fasting.
The changes that occur in the body in response to fasting depend on the length of the continuous fast. Technically the body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorption of nutrients from the food. In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body’s main source of energy. During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the stores of glucose run out, fat becomes the next store source of energy for the body. Small quantities of glucose are also ‘manufactured’ through other mechanisms in the liver.
Only with a prolonged fast of many days to weeks does the body eventually turn to protein for energy. This is the technical description of what is commonly known as ‘starvation’, and it is clearly unhealthy. It involves protein being released from the breakdown of muscle, which is why people who starve look emaciated and become very weak.
As the Ramadan fast only extends from dawn till dusk, there is ample opportunity to replenish energy stores at pre dawn and dusk meals. This provides a progressive, gentle transition from using glucose to fat as the main source of energy, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein. The use of fat for energy aids weight loss, preserving the muscles, and in the long run reduces your cholesterol levels. In addition, weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure. A detoxification process also seems to occur, as any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body. After a few days of the fast, higher levels of certain hormones appear in the blood (endorphins), resulting in a better level of alertness and an overall feeling of general mental well-being.
Balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. The kidney is very efficient at maintaining the body’s water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. However, these can be lost through sweating. To prevent muscle breakdown, meals must contain adequate levels of ‘energy food’, such as carbohydrates and some fat. Hence, a balanced diet with adequate quantities of nutrients, salts and water is vital.
Foods that benefit and foods that harm:
The fasts of Ramadan can improve a person’s health significantly, but – if the correct diet is not followed – can possibly worsen it! The deciding factor is not the fast itself, but rather what is consumed in the non-fasting hours. To fully benefit from fasting, a person should spare a great deal of thought to the type and quantity of food they will indulge in through the blessed month of Ramadhan. Overeating can not only harm the body but also interfere with a person’s spiritual growth during the month.
Muslim families have grown up with a habit of “stock up” a lot of food for the month of Ramadhan, so that more is consumed during this time than in the course of several other months combined. At the end of the day, the presence of this too much food on the table tempts one to overeat and makes up for all one has missed during the daytime or at its worst, the meal sometime finds its way to the garbage as a left over. This problem comes in because Muslim families have failed to differentiate between feasting and fasting. It is therefore worth reflecting on the true objective of fasting which is to experience hunger and to check desire in an attempt to reinforce the soul in piety.
If this is exactly what happens in your home, then better do something as soon as you can because Islam strictly condemns extravagance at any level. Extravagance has no spiritual nor moral relevance in Islam, so especially when it comes to the holy month of Ramadhan. Throwing that bread in the garbage is like abusing Allah’s bounty rendered on you, because there are millions unlucky ones craving for that piece of bread. I think if we start thinking along this line then no food will ever be wasted in our homes.
Allah (SWT) says in Holy Quran: “Eat and drink freely: but waste not by excess, for He does not like the wasters.” (Surah Al-Araf, 7:31)
The physical body is a gift from Allah (SWT); it is given to humans as an Amanah (in trust) to take care of for a fixed period. How much food is consumed and the choice of food has a direct impact on the physical and spiritual well-being of the person. The food that we consume affects our behaviour and personality. Wholesome, natural and healthy food assists the development of a good personality. Overeating has long been frowned upon in Islam as it is thought to increase worldly appetites and cause sluggishness, thereby ‘dulling’ the soul, hampering spiritual growth and increasing physical ailments.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “The children of Adam fill no vessel worse than their stomach. Sufficient for him is a few morsels to keep his back straight. If he must eat more, then a third should be for his food, a third for his drink, and a third left for air.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
Most of the health problems are likely to arise from inappropriate diet, overeating and insufficient sleep. Human body has regulatory mechanisms that reduce the metabolic rate and ensure efficient utilization of the body’s fat reserves in times of hunger. A diet that has less than a normal amount of food but is sufficiently balanced will keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadhan. The diet should be simple and not differ too much from one’s normal everyday diet. It should contain foods from all the major food groups.
Especially now, when our daily intake is limited to two meals per day, we need to put extra effort into including foods from all the major food groups. Our bodies need at least 40 different nutrients every day to ensure that we grow adequately and maintain good health. Although most foods contain more than one nutrient, no single food provides all the necessary nutrients.
Moreover, foods have benefits that can’t be replaced by a pill. It is thus important to eat a wide variety of foods every day, so as to ensure that we get all of these nutrients. The way to ensure variety, and with it a well-balanced diet, is to select foods each day from each of the five food groups.
Even though the thought of sleep may be far more appealing than waking up to force down some food, don’t skip breakfast (Sahur). Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Also it is called as “Sunnat-e-Muakkadah (emphasised Sunnah)”.
For years, research has shown that breakfast (the breaking of the overnight fast) provides the essential nutrients and energy needed for concentration while keeping hunger symptoms like headaches, fatigue, sleepiness and restlessness at bay. In addition, it also gets our metabolic rates up and going, it is therefore vital to ensure an adequate intake at breakfast time.
In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume the so-called ‘complex carbohydrates’ or slow digesting foods at Sahur so that the food lasts longer (about 8 hours) making you less hungry during the day. These complex carbohydrates are found in foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, unpolished rice and etc.
Fibre rich foods are also digested slowly and include bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with the skin, vegetables such as green beans and almost all fruit, including apricots, prunes, figs, etc.
Foods to avoid are the heavily processed, Fried foods, very spicy foods, fast burning foods that contain refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar, white flour, etc., as well as, of course, too much fatty food (eg cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets, such as Indian Mithai).
Drinking of sufficient water and juices between Iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration and for detoxification of the digestive system should be encouraged in fasting individuals. However, the intake of large amounts of caffeine containing beverages should be avoided especially at Sahur. For example, drinking too much tea, coffee and cola will make one pass more urine and inevitably cause the loss of valuable mineral salts that your body would otherwise need during the day. Fruits such as bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. However, bananas can cause constipation and their intake has to be balanced with adequate fibre intake.
Refined carbohydrates or fast digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours and may be better taken at Iftar to rapidly restore blood glucose levels. Fast burning foods include foods that contain sugar and white flour. Dates are an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium and have been recommended since the days of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) as a good way of breaking the fast, because Dates will provide a refreshing burst of much needed energy. Fruit juices will also have a similar, revitalizing effect. The meal should remain a meal and not become a feast! Try to minimize the rich, special dishes that traditionally celebrate the fast.
Many of the foods which are mentioned and encouraged are in the Holy Quran, and the Sunnah (the Prophetic traditions) also correspond to modern guidelines on a healthy diet and will help to maintain balanced, healthy meals in Ramadhan. The most commonly consumed foods by Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) were milk, dates, lamb/mutton and oats. Healthy foods mentioned in the Holy Quran are fruit and vegetables, such as olives, onions, cucumber, figs, dates, grapes as well as pulses such as lentils. The encouragement of fish can be seen in the fact that Islamic law spares fish from any specific slaughter requirements, making it easy to incorporate fish which has scales in a meal.
It is also important to follow good time management procedures for Ibada (prayer and other religious activities), sleep, studies, work, and physical activities or exercise. A good balance in the amount of time attributed for each activity will lead to a healthier body and mind in Ramadan. via: ezsoftech.com
Eating Healthy During Ramadan Gives Us Energy to Embark on Increased Religious Obligations
It can be very easy to fall into a bad routine during Ramadan. The lack of food may give us excuse to be lethargic, lazy and irresponsible towards the many obligations and duties in our lives. We may slack off at work, stop studying at school and so on. That is very bad, and contrary to what it expected of Muslims during Ramadan.
To counter this, the article below shows how you can maintain a healthy diet while fasting. Here are some simple guidelines to make sure that your diet remains balanced and healthy during this fasting period:
Don’t skip breakfast (Suhoor) Even though sleep may seem far more appealing than waking up to force down some food, don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research has shown that breakfast provides the essential energy and nutrients needed for concentration, while keeping hunger symptoms like headaches, fatigue, drowsiness and restlessness at bay. In addition, it speeds our metabolic rates. It is therefore vital to ensure an adequate intake at breakfast time.
Eat a wide variety of foods When your daily intake is limited to two meals per day, you need to put extra effort into including foods from all the food groups. Our bodies need at least 40 different nutrients daily, to ensure that we grow properly and maintain good health. Although most foods contain more than one nutrient, no single food provides all the necessary nutrients. Moreover, foods have benefits that can’t be replicated by a pill. So it is important to eat a wide variety of foods every day, to ensure that we get all of these nutrients. Select foods each day from each of the five food groups:
· Breads, cereals and other grain products
· Fruit and vegetables
· Meat, fish and poultry
· Milk, cheese and yoghurt
· Fats and sugars (these are low in nutrients & high in calories, so limit intake!)
Eat low glycaemic (GI) foods at breakfast to help control blood sugar levels Carbohydrates are classified according to their glucose response or glyceamic index (GI). The GI measures how fast the carbohydrate of a particular food is converted to glucose and enters the bloodstream. The lower the GI, the slower the food is converted to sugar and the longer it satisfies your hunger. Selecting low GI foods helps maintain normal blood sugar, minimises hunger pangs & satisfies appetite without providing excess calories. Also, by controlling blood sugar levels, you prevent excessive eating binges as a result of low blood sugar levels. Remember to include low GI foods at each meal, and to avoid eating high GI foods on their own, but rather to mix them with low GI foods, which will give an intermediate GI overall.
Be aware of your cooking methods By making small changes in your cooking habits, you can create great-tasting foods that are also healthy for you. Many of those treasured family-favourite recipes have a very high fat content for today’s health-conscious living. Don’t give up on your favourites – just convert them!
· Always trim off excess fat from before cooking, or use venison, chicken and soya as lower fat options. Remove poultry skin & choose light meat (eg. breast).
· Cut down on fat intake during cooking:
- cook onions in a little water or vegetable stock rather than oil or butter
- use non-stick frying pans & non-stick sprays rather than oil or margarine
- bake, grill or roast foods rather than frying
- cook roasted meat or poultry on a wire rack so that the fat can drip off
- Steam or boil vegetables
- when preparing rice, noodles & other grains, season with herbs, spices & broths rather than added fat
- prepare soups, gravies & sauces in advance, so that they can be refrigerated, allowing you to remove the layer of fat that forms on top.
- Use herbs and spices to add flavour & zest to low-fat cooking. Basil, bay leaf, oregano, & rosemary add distinctive flavours & colours to meat & vegetables. Spices, like cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg enhance the sweet taste of foods, & seasoning blends, such as chilli powder, curry powder provide a complex array of flavours
· Avoid taking in too much salt
- Use garlic, dry mustard, pepper, onions, mushrooms & tomatoes to add flavour to meat and vegetables – Add sliced lemon or lemon juice to white meats & fish
· Make healthy changes to recipes Cut the fat in half – if a recipe requires cream or whole milk, use evaporated or fresh skim milk. If a recipe requires a whole egg, use two egg whites, etc.
Eat enough carbohydrate foods – especially those rich in fibre These foods provide the body with energy. They are rich in B vitamins, and are an excellent source of fibre. Hi-fibre foods also fill you up more than low-fibre counterparts. Foods high in fibre include brown rice, wholegrains, fresh fruit and raw veggies.
Remember your fruits and vegetables – Fruit and vegetables add colour and variety to the menu. They are “protective” foods as they help the body fight off sickness and disease. They are also rich sources of a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, and are low in calories.
Drink sufficient fluid – Always include water in your diet, and cut down on caffeine-containing beverages. Caffeine is a diuretic and will not provide adequate hydration.
We all know that maintaining a balanced diet by eating healthily has a vital influence on your well being. Try following the above principles so that this fast period does not sway too much from the principles of good nutrition. via: 123muslim.com
Ramadan being the month of blessings requires us to maintain a healthy life style so we can fulfill our spiritual and physical requirements of the day. One hot topic every day in the month of Ramadan is “what to prepare for Iftar?”
Oily and fried stuff with a lot of sweets and drinks is a regular iftar menu. But a very important question we need to ask ourselves is about the health concern. We surely need energy to regain the body strength but the fast we keep from dawn to dusk is a regular time in which body utilizes the food energy stored from the consumption of sehri. Once the food energy ends, the body uses fats to provide energy and we reach the time to break the fast. This proves that overeating is not a solution to regain energy for the whole day as body has its own mechanism.
Food to be consumed in Sehri:
Slow digesting foods which are also called complex carbohydrates, should be consumed more in sehri time as they take longer time to digest while making you feel less hungry during the day time. Few examples of such food are: lentils, oats, bran, skinned potatoes, beans and fruits.
Food to be avoided at Iftar:
Fast burning food which include white flour or fried and oily food should be avoided. Items like sweets, cakes and biscuits are not an ideal choice either. You should also restrain from very spicy food.
Food advice for the weight watchers:
Weight watchers are over concerned about the food intake. What they want is a diet which can provide them high energy with a low calorie intake. Let us look into some snacks and meals that provide us with high energy while keeping the calorie count low.
- Fruit salad: a bowl full of fruits like apple, watermelon, banana, and pear can give you a bowl full of energy.
- Cereal: a cereal bowl high in fiber with some raisins mixed with honey and milk is a tasty yet energy filled meal.
- Peanut butter: spread some peanut butter on your bran bread and here you go!
- Almonds: eat a handful of almonds to maintain your energy level.
- Yogurt: 8 ounce of yogurt if included in your diet can provide you with a good source of vitamin B. You can add fruits in your fresh yogurt to give you a different taste.
- Boiled egg: Boil your egg and eat the egg white which will provide you with a great source of protein.
- Red or green beans: one cup of beans can easily cover half of your daily requirement of potassium. You can simply boil the beans and add them in your pasta or salad to enjoy the energy food.
- Smoothie and Shakes: milk and fruits combined is a nutrition bomb. Add a few seedless dates to your drink before you blend it to make a delicious fruit shake, to provide you with more power and taste.
- Berries: yummy and scrumptious berries are a massive source of nutrients and antioxidants. Be it fleshy red strawberries or tasty blue berries, add them in your fruit bowl, cereal, shake or salad and benefit from the tasty source of energy.
- Dates: they provide quick energy as they are digested easily and fast. Consumption of dates after breaking your fast, provides you with a balanced and healthy diet.
Tips for the month of Ramadan
- Avoid over eating
- Consume a good amount of water during iftar and sehri time, to avoid dehydration
- Eat slow digestive food in sehri
- Eat high energy food in iftar
- Avoid fried, oily and spicy food
- Reduce caffeine and smoking habits before Ramadan to avoid addiction issues
- Adjust your medication schedule if you are on any special medication
- Diabetic patients should keep a regular check on their sugar level to avoid high or low level of sugar in blood
- If we take special care of our health in the holy month of Ramadan and keep a balanced diet, while eating all we wish and want we can end up maintaining our weight yet being healthy. Determining the right quantity and the calorie count is the key to do this! Do share with us your views on the article and also add your tips for the month of Ramadan in the comment section. via: zaiqa
The holy month of Ramadan offers an excellent opportunity to lose weight, especially by performing light exercise and eating the right kind of food, recommend dieticians.
“But a balanced diet is critical to maintain good health, sustain an active lifestyle and attain the full benefits of Ramadan,” they add, warning not to overlook the diet factor.
“Fasting is good for one’s health because it has spiritual, physical, psychological, and social benefits. However, man-made problems may occur if fasting is not properly practiced,” says Priya Rao, Dietician, Al Rafa Poly Clinic.
She advises that the diet during Ramadan should not differ from the normal one. “There is no need to consume excess food at iftar or suhur,” she says.
Says Saijitha Sunil, Nutritionist/Dietician at the Emirates Diagnostic Clinic, “The globally recognised golden rule of dietary guidelines is that one should eat a variety of food using principles of moderation and balance. Usually, most health problems at this time are likely to arise from inappropriate diet or as a consequence of over-eating and insufficient sleep.”
“Fasting also improves blood cholesterol profile, reduces gastric acidity, prevents constipation and other digestive problems,” adds Saijitha.
“Benefits of fasting appear only in those who maintain their diet, avoiding the high calorie and highly processed foods prepared during this time,” explains adding that as fasting may last for as much as 18 hours, the best things to eat are those which release their energy slowly and are rich in fibre. “These foods can last for up to eight hours, while foods which release their energy quickly last for only three or four hours,” she says. Priya says that slow energy releasing foods include grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice.
“It is very important to have a pre-dawn meal. This helps reduce the time of food deprivation and prevent ketosis. Ketosis is a stage in metabolism occurring when the liver has been depleted of stored glycogen and switches to a chronic fasting mode during long periods of starvation. This is the same reason why breakfast is considered as an important meal of the day,” they both advise.
Priya advises people to consume a light suhur. “Preferred foods to be taken at suhur are whole wheat bread, milk, vegetable salads, fruits, tea or coffee,” she adds.
Talking about Iftar, Priya says that the body’s immediate need at that time is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells.
“Dates, juices and soups are good sources of sugars and helps bring low blood glucose to normal levels. They also help maintain water and mineral balance in the body,” she says while explaining the benefits.
“Have your meal at suhur at the proper hour before sunrise, not at midnight, as this will spread out your energy intake more evenly and result in more balanced blood glucose levels during fasting,” advises Priya.
She also says that one should drink as much water as possible between Iftar and bedtime, include fruits, vegetables, dal, and yoghurt in the meals at Iftar and at Suhur, limit the amount of sweet foods taken at Iftar, limit the intake of fried and fatty foods.
A SAMPLE MEAL
FOR Iftar, 2-3 dates, a serving (4 oz) of unsweetened juice, a cup of light vegetable soup with some pasta or Graham crackers would be ideal.
For dinner, consume foods from all the food groups, including salads, chicken or fish or lean meat, some grain as rice or bread or pasta, a small tub of low-fat yogurt, and a serving of fruit. She also says that a light suhur should be consumed.
Saijitha also advises to avoid caffeinated drinks such as coke, coffee or tea four to five days before Ramadan.
“Gradually reduce the intake of these drinks since a sudden decrease will result in headaches, mood swings and irritability,” she adds. The dieticians say that constipation (too little fibre and water in the diet) is among the main complaints during Ramadan. Other problems include indigestion (from over-eating, especially of fried, fatty or spicy foods), muscle cramps (not enough vegetables, fruit, meat, or dairy products in the diet) and headaches (due to caffeine and tobacco withdrawal). “If you have diabetes the additional problems you may experience are a ‘hypo’ attack (low blood sugar), dehydration, high blood glucose levels that can lead to ketoacidosis (‘diabetic coma’) if not treated,” says Priya, adding that it is very important to break the fast at once if you are feeling unwell.
“Smoking is a health risk factor. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadan. Smoking negatively affects the utilisation of various vitamins in the body,” says Saijitha. via: khaleejtimes.com