Keeping Immune System Healthy; Tips for Fasting in Pandemic

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Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Muslims across the world are welcoming the fasting month ahead of this year’s Eid al-Fitr. However, with the world currently combatting the global COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining a healthy immune system is paramount in keeping yourself healthy while fasting.

    The immune system serves to recognize and destroy pathogenic microorganisms, antigens and foreign substances that might enter the body. If it is not well maintained, bacteria or viruses can easily enter and infect the body, causing you to be sick.

    Nutritionist and Chief of the Indonesia Sport Nutritionist Association, Rita Ramayulis explained that, although the amount of necessary nutrition intake does not change, fasting Muslims need to ensure the necessary amount is included in their suhoor and iftar meals.

    “For most people who are fasting, they tend to have shorter eating times compared to before the fasting month. Furthermore, they also have a tendency to prefer sweet foods and drinks, which reduces the opportunity in fulfilling the nutritional intake needed by the immune system,” said Rita, through a press release, received last week.

    Accordingly, Rita has advised for a healthy and balanced diet packed with enough vitamins and minerals. Unlike the intake of supplements, vitamins and minerals from food will not be toxic in the body and will remain in the body for a prolonged period of time.

    In addition, here are some more tips for you to keep a healthy immune system while fasting in Ramadan.

    1. Enough protein

    Consume low-fat or medium-fat protein food sources, such as skinless chicken, tempeh, tofu, green beans, or milk, for at least three meals a day, which could be at dinner time after iftar, a protein-based snack before bed, and at dawn (suhoor time).

    1. Consume fruits

    Similarly, you also need to consume fruits three times a day. Prioritize fruits with high moisture content and are eaten whole. On the other hand, if you have plans to juice your fruit, avoid adding sugar, sweetened cream, syrup, or other artificial sweeteners.

    1. Consume vegetables

    Be sure to include the necessary vegetables in your suhoor and iftar meals. In processing your vegetables, try to cook it in a clear soup or cook it in thin coconut milk (santan).

    1. Less sweet food

    Reduce the consumption of sweet foods and drinks, as it will weaken the function of white blood cells in combating harmful microorganisms.

    1. Reduce fat intake

    Food with high-fat content can be dangerous as it can trigger various inflammation in the body. Therefore, reduce the consumption of fatty foods and beverages as well as processed foods laced with various chemical additives.

    1. Stay hydrated

    Despite fasting, you can stay hydrated by increasing your fluid intake from water, fruits, vegetables and other sources of fluids.

    1. Do stretches

    Do stretches and light exercises a few times during the day to reduce the production of stress hormones.

    1. Sunbathe

    Sunbathing two to three times a week will do you well for your body, as it fulfills the necessary vitamin D intake.

    1. Consume spices

    While planning your meals for suhoor and iftar, be sure to cook something that incorporates a number of spices and herbs. Aside from elevating the flavors of your meals, spices provide phytochemicals that can prevent various inflammation in the body.

    1. Manage your stress

    Manage stress levels to maintain hormonal balance in the body. If you keep your stress levels unchecked, your body will produce the hormone cortisol which can weaken the function of the immune system.

    TEMPO.CO | Translator: DIO SUHENDA (Intern)