The holy month of Ramadan started last week and we wish Muslims worldwide a lovely Ramadan Mubarak!
Ramadan is a month practiced by many where Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn till dusk. It is a time where they reflect on their spiritually, increase their faith and give to charity.
Our Director of Support, Aini, says “I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say that Ramadan always come at the best time. It gives us a chance to ditch the bad habits and replace them with greater ones. I’ve learnt to avoid fatty and fried food, snacking and sweets during iftaar [the breaking of fast].”
Benefits of Fasting
Studies have demonstrated that people observing Ramadan have significant improvements in their cholesterols profiles. The bad cholesterol ‘LDL’ and the good cholesterol ‘HDL’ have been shown to decrease and increase respectively. [1,2]. A reduction in cholesterol increases our cardiovascular health. As a result, this can reduce our chances of having any heart diseases, a heart attack or even a stroke. Other benefits also include, promoting weight loss, remodelling of the gut microbiome , prevention of hypertension and development of atherosclerosis  and decreasing blood pressure .
Ramadan and Women’s Health
Muslim women have a mandatory exemption from fasting during the menstruation. In addition, Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, any travellers, the sick and those with compromised health are all exempted from fasting too.
In terms of the menopause, for a lot of women, symptoms can be really bothersome e.g hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain / stiffness, dry skin / hair, mood swings & irritability. Managing such symptoms during this month of fasting can be challenging for many. However, it can be helped with some tips below:
- During the hours where you do eat, it is important to make sure you eat a balanced diet in vitamins and minerals during the non-fasting hours. Try your best to refrain from snacking on oily/fried food and overloading on sweets and sugar!
- Make sure you eat good quality proteins and have enough calories as otherwise it can cause chaos with insulin resistance.
- Avoid the spicy food!
- Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated during the non-fasting hours. Stick to herbal teas e.g. green tea or cool water with a slice of lemon, lime etc. Caffeine and sugary drinks can exacerbate symptoms.
- Take rest frequently throughout the day and listen to your body. Lack of enough sleep/rest can make symptoms worse.
- Stay active by doing light exercise.
We know of the benefits of eating healthy diet during menopause so it is vital that women continue to do so when they are not fasting.
Menopause can already cause poor sleep and during Ramadan women may feel more tired than usual so it is vital that women ensure that they get adequate amounts of rest.
Women that are using transdermal HRT ie patches or gels dont need to make any changes to how or when they use these as this will not break their fast.
Women that are taking HRT tablets would need to take their tablets before or after dark so that they will not break their fast. Moving the time of taking the tablets won’t impact your hormone levels.
For a more comprehensive breakdown on HRT and fasting, you can watch Dr Arif’s bitesized video with RCOG and UK Muslim Women’s Network here.
We wish everyone practicing Ramadan a blessed month with lots of love and joy.
1 Su J, Wang Y, Zhang X, Ma M, Xie Z, Pan Q, Ma Z, Peppelenbosch MP. Remodeling of the gut microbiome during Ramadan-associated intermittent fasting. Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 May 8;113(5):1332-1342
2 Malinowski B, Zalewska K, Węsierska A, Sokołowska MM, Socha M, Liczner G, Pawlak-Osińska K, Wiciński M. Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders-An Overview. Nutrients. 2019 Mar 20;11(3):673.
3 Al-Jafar R, Zografou Themeli M, Zaman S, Akbar S, Lhoste V, Khamliche A, Elliott P, Tsilidis KK, Dehghan A. Effect of Religious Fasting in Ramadan on Blood Pressure: Results From LORANS (London Ramadan Study) and a Meta-Analysis. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Oct 19;10(20):e021560.
4 Akhtar P, Kazmi A, Sharma T, Sharma A. Effects of Ramadan fasting on serum lipid profile. J Family Med Prim Care. 2020 May 31;9(5):2337-2341
5 Shehab A, Abdulle A, El Issa A, Al Suwaidi J, Nagelkerke N. Favorable changes in lipid profile: the effects of fasting after Ramadan. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47615
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The ability to speak to someone who was not only knowledgeable, but sympathetic and completely understanding of the menopause was brilliant. The GP and NHS are superb, but they have limited time and resources for this issue, so having alternative option available has been an absolute godsend.
Keran made me feel comfortable and explained all the procedures to me very happy with the service