Author: Nosheen Hayat, former Research Associate for CMBM, has a B.S. in dietetics and is currently a graduate student at University of Michigan working on her MPH in nutritional sciences.
Dehydration is probably the biggest challenge when fasting during the summer. Not only is it hot, but the fast is pretty long too–lasting more than 20 hours in some countries. Which means we could be dehydrated pretty early into our fast.
There is very little we can do to prevent our water from depleting during the day, other than avoiding activities that cause excessive sweating. But what is very important is that we hydrate well at and after iftar (breaking of the fast – the evening meal).
One of the beautiful challenges of Ramadan is not simply abstaining from food and water, but it also gives us a chance to change some of our negative dietary habits. This is because we now are limited in the amount of time we have to eat, combined with the limited space in our stomachs, we’re forced to make wiser choices in order to ensure we’re getting all the nutrients we need.
The hydrating process is not only important to replace loss of water, but also the loss of minerals. It’s important that you are drinking water throughout the night; some people even wake up in the middle of the night to drink a glass of water.
Here are some ways you can hydrate properly.
1. Date(s) & Water
It is traditional for Muslims to open their fast with a date and water – per the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is a great way to kick start the hydrating process. Dates are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and some major and minor minerals such as calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, and folate.
2. Young Coconut Water
Coconut water is also an excellent tool to hydrate, especially if you are someone who is spending his/her time outside and sweating excessively. According to one research study, young coconut water worked just as well as sports drinks and regular water at hydrating subjects following a dehydrating exercise; the results showed that coconut water caused “less nausea, fullness, and no stomach upset and was easier to consume in a larger amount.” Coconut water is a pretty wholesome beverage; it contains different types of sugars, at least 9 different minerals, many amino acids (protein), and at least 7 different vitamins. It also is about 99% water. Given the sugar and mineral content, it is a great form of hydration.
3. Make Freshly Squeezed Lemonade
Lemons are also a great source of many different minerals and vitamins, such as calcium, potassium, copper, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, folate, choline, and vitamin A (if you keep the pulp). Combined with sea salt, which also contains major and minor minerals (iodine, iron, and zinc), and water, freshly squeezed lemonade makes for a great hydrating drink.
My recipe for lemonade is pretty simple:
- 2 cups of water,
- 1-2 tsp of sea salt,
- 1-2 tsp raw brown sugar,
- 1-2 squeezed lemons.
I try my best to cut the pulp out and leave it in the water as I don’t like to waste any part of the fruit. It tastes great and is so refreshing!
Make sure you don’t forget to drink water throughout the night after iftaar in order to hydrate properly.