Ramadan, a blessed month that gives us an opportunity to gain better consciousness of Allah and improve our self-control.
A simple Google search can highlight tons of medical benefits of fasting – it is even recommended by some top nutritionists. For some of us, however, Ramadan starts with a bang, by that I mean, a banging headache.
Studies have shown a variety of components that contribute to this brand of headache, including: low blood sugar, dehydration, lack of sleep and if you’re anything like me, caffeine withdrawal.
But all hope isn’t lost.
Here are 3 tips to help avoid getting those awful headaches:
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
This is the most likely culprit. Considering that the brain is made of 75% liquid, it’s a no brainer!
The key is to drink plenty of water when you’re not fasting. One of the ways of doing this is to fill up a 1.5 – 2litre bottle and make sure you have half before closing the fast and the other half after opening. Repeat this process every day. It is recommended to have it slowly and in intervals rather than large amounts in one go.
It also helps to have water as your only beverage. That’s right, put the pint glass down and step away from the Coke bottle!
Now for a bit of science-y stuff:
Dr Ebrahim Elimam, consultant for diabetes, endocrinology and internal medicine at HealthPlus Diabetes and Endocrinology Centre, stated in an article:
“When the brain detects that the water supply is too low, it produces histamines [compounds released by cells that cause contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries] to ration and conserve water in case the water shortage continues for a long time. These histamines directly cause pain and fatigue, which is experienced as a headache and lowered levels of energy.”
- GO EASY ON THE SUGAR
Not sure why but a lot of people assume that eating an insanely sugary meal at suhoor time will help keep blood sugar levels regulated throughout the day. Or maybe that’s just their excuse for having half packet of custard creams, last night’s left over cheese cake and a hot chocolate first thing. Either way, it doesn’t help! Fast releasing sugar spikes your insulin level and leaves you feeling fatigued and horrible when the blood sugar level drops.
Added sugar is generally not great for you. With that in mind, here’s some more science-y stuff:
When our cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, the beta cells in our pancreas make more of it.
This is crucial, because chronically elevated blood sugars can cause severe harm.
Eventually, as insulin resistance becomes progressively worse, the pancreas can’t keep up with the demand of producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels down.
At this point, blood sugar levels skyrocket and a diagnosis of type II diabetes is made.
Given that sugar can cause insulin resistance, it is not surprising to see that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages have up to an 83% higher risk of Type II diabetes
- SIESTA – GET YOUR 7 HOURS OF SLEEP
I think most people would agree that getting 7 hours of sleep is vital in keeping you alert and functioning throughout a busy day. Trying to achieve this on normal nights can be challenging, in Ramadan, it becomes near impossible. Eating late makes it difficult to sleep early, you want to pray the night prayer, you don’t want to waste the blessed nights sleeping when you could be worshiping. It makes sense! But to avoid that pounding headache, why not try to get a bit of kip during the day. If you only slept 5 hours at night try finding a slot during the day and catching up the missing 2. Or if you only got 4 hours at night then find 3 hours during the day, or if you only got 3 at night… OK, you get my drift.
Ramadan is about getting closer to Allah and focusing on improving yourself. Don’t let the headache hinder you from that goal – be sensible!