International SOS: Expert Advice For A Healthy Ramadan

Kuala Lumpur, 29 March 2022 – Ahead of the fast-approaching Ramadan month, International SOS has unveiled its top five health tips for those observing the holy month during the COVID-19 pandemic. The world’s leading health and security services company also advises organisations to continue to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of their employees and shares the following advice.

Dr David Teo, Regional Medical Director, Asia, International SOS, said, “We would like to wish all everyone a blessed and safe Ramadan month. Ramadan is an important and special observation and this year will be the first time many Malaysians can travel and gather since the pandemic began. While there has been a relaxation of guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs), people still need to be careful and mindful of their health, which is why we created our top five tips help make it easier for those observing the fast.”

Dr Teo continued, “Even though vaccination rates against COVID-19 have reached good levels in Malaysia, the pandemic is not over yet and everyone still has to be careful and follow existing guidelines and SOPs such as, physical distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene.”

International SOS’ top five tips for a healthy Ramadan are:

  1. Do not skimp on rest and/or sleep – Ramadan is a time of increased prayer. Though it may be tempting to stay up late for Sahur and only sleep after Imsak, you should still aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep during every 24-hour period, even if this is accumulated over several separate periods of rest. A well-rested body and mind will make it easier for you to concentrate at work and have more energy throughout the day.
  2. Stagger your hydration – Thirst can be one of the most challenging symptoms of fasting, leading us to drink plenty of water and liquids very fast as soon as we break our fast and then just before Imsak. However, rehydration should be a cumulative process. The best way to rehydrate fasting bodies and maintain this hydration for longer is to pace your liquid intake by consuming at least 2 litres of water – one or two glasses at a time – between Iftar and Imsak. It also helps to cut down on caffeinated drinks at night, and to top up your liquid intake with soups, fruits and vegetables rich in water, such as cucumbers and watermelon.
  3. Eat healthy and nutritious meals – Fasting will cause a change of habit in eating and your food intake frequency. It is vital to fulfil your vitamin and mineral needs to maintain a strong immune system. Be mindful of your salt and sugar intake. After a full day of fasting, avoid satisfying cravings with soda and energy drinks which are high in sugar. Instead, opt for the unprocessed food such as fruits, and consume complex carbohydrates such as rice, bread and wholegrains alongside vegetables, which will keep you fuller for longer. As for salt intake, it is worth keeping in mind that having moderately savoury foods with water can help you retain some hydration for longer. However, consuming too much salt will have an adverse effect and contribute to thirst and dehydration during the day. Too much salt can affect blood pressure, so go easy on salty snacks such as popcorn and salted nuts at night.
  4. Do more in the morning – Where possible, schedule more difficult tasks requiring greater concentration or physical effort in the morning, when you will have more energy. International SOS encourages businesses each year to schedule important meetings during the first half of the day, when fasting employees will have more energy and will be better able to retain new information.
  5. Don’t stop exercising – Although you may feel more tired and understandably less active while fasting, skipping regular exercise for a full month is unhealthy, particularly as most of your food intake will be consumed at night. Moderate exercise is advisable and will also help you feel less sluggish. Just remember to wait a couple of hours after Iftar before doing an activity.

In addition, individuals suffering from chronic illnesses should consult their doctors on how to manage regular medication and to ensure it is safe for them to fast.

“In any case, it is always and particularly important to identify persons at risk of severe form of COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease or cancer), to respect the social distancing and respect hand and general hygiene measures. However, people who are affected by COVID-19 may wish to consider the religious license to break their fast in consultation with their doctor,” concluded Dr Teo.

International SOS also reminds everyone to be mindful of the following guidelines to have a safe Ramadan amidst COVID-19:

  1. Follow the general hygiene measures strictly.
  2. Wash your hands frequently, regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  3. Wash all the fruits and vegetables before consumption.
  4. Maintain social distancing at least 2 meters (6 feet) and avoid gatherings with friends and relatives during Breaking Fast (Iftar), Sahur times and stay at home.
  5. Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider and health authorities.