Mind and Body Union - How to Prepare for Ramadan 2020

Ramadan 2020

“Oh, you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness" (Qur’an 2:183).

 
The Quran was revealed to our Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) in the month of Ramadan and, in this month, we take time to reflect on our sins, make Du’a, and find compassion for those who endure hunger in their lives. This is a powerful moment of connection, when we all eat, pray and read the Quran at the same time, in all corners of the world. 
 
"Allah is with those who restrain themselves" (Qur’an 16:128).
 
Sawm (fasting) is an obligation for all Muslims during Ramadan, but many recent scientific studies have also proven its benefits on our bodies. There is growing evidence that, when done right, intermittent fasting considerably reduces the risk of type two diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
 
At the same time, fasting even for a day increases our brain’s natural growth factors. This clears our minds, heightens our senses and boosts our brainpower, so we can create space for meditation and self-reflection.
 
“Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” (Qur’an, 2:185).
 
To make it easier for the body and to fully reap the benefits of this precious month, we are encouraged to prepare ourselves as much as we can for Ramadan. The companions of the Prophet (pbuh) used to prepare six months in advance by fasting voluntarily, praying to Allah (swt) for His forgiveness, and doing good deeds throughout the year.
 
These days, the pace of life can seem very busy to most of us, but here are some easy tips for you to get fit for Ramadan 2020.
 
Start fasting before Ramadan
 
A good way to practice fasting is by actually doing it. Thus, you give your body time to gradually adjust to Ramadan even before it starts.
You can choose to either downsize your usual portions and skip the snacks, or you can do a full fast for two or three days a week. 
This is also a good way to make up for any days you might have missed last year.
Adjust your sleep schedule
The Prophet (pbuh) teaches us: “Have Suhoor for verily there is blessing in it” (Abu Dawud).
Allah (swt) gave us Suhoor and we should not skip it. By making time for Suhoor, you can set yourself up for the day with the right nutrients and energy.
Start adjusting your sleep pattern, so your body gets used to waking up before sunrise each day.
Reduce coffee intake
Those who love their cup of coffee in the morning should know that too much coffee leads to dehydration. During Ramadan, our body is already put under strain, so we should drink a lot of water to keep it hydrated. You don’t have to give up coffee for good, but maybe try and drink less before Ramadan.
Start getting active
 
Exercising increases our energy levels during the day and contributes to good mental health.
During Ramadan, we might be tempted to skip it because our bodies already feel tired. You’d be amazed to see how much more energy you gain if you do exercise though.
Why not start now? Even a short walk can do wonders.
Choose healthy snacks
One way to stay energized during Ramadan is to choose healthy snacks such as nuts, dried fruit and dates.
When done right, fasting doesn’t have to be exhausting. In fact, it’s amazing how most of us experience so much more energy.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).
Stay hydrated
 
Our bodies can go on for weeks without food, but only a few days without water.
Drinking lots of water will also help with the feeling of tiredness.
“Have Suhoor even if it is a mouthful of water.” (Ibn Hibban)
Choose foods rich in calcium and proteins
After a full day of fasting, the worst thing you can do is give in to the temptation of a big, unhealthy meal at Iftar. Overeating will put even more strain on your body.
Instead, choose light healthy foods which you can more easily absorb such as fruits, salads and soups.
Proteins are essential when fasting too, so make sure to include meat and eggs in your diet.
Choose foods rich in fibres. Foods rich in fibre are also going to contribute to a healthy body during fasting. Make sure to include whole grain breads and cereals in your Iftar, so your blood sugar levels don’t drop during the day.    
 
Avoid spicy or salty food
 
We know spice and salt in food are what gives life flavour. But spicy foods also lead to dehydration, so they should be avoided during Ramadan.
Why not choose something light and refreshing this time? Maybe some yoghurt, a traditional lentil soup, or a creamy mango milkshake.
Speak to your doctor
If you feel your health is preventing you from fasting, speak to your doctor and make sure you are not making your condition worse.
“So, whoever sights (the new moon of) the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days” (Qur’an 2:185).
 
Is fasting actually good for you?
 
We don’t fast because of the health benefits, but still, studies across the board show that intermittent fasting is both safe and an incredibly efficient way to get healthy and lose weight.
Through Sawm (fasting), Allah (swt) forgives our sins and increases us in Taqwa (God-consciousness), but the health benefits of fasting that come as a bonus can’t be denied.
Intermittent fasting has been proven to increase our mental clarity, yet new studies go further to say it could actually help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Fasting is said to help grow new nerve cells, keep our brains younger and protect us against brain damage from strokes.
Furthermore, fasting can lead to stem cell regeneration, which means a longer, healthier life altogether. Scientists have discovered that fasting induces a metabolic switch provoking stem cells to enhance their regenerative capacities.

The End of Ramadan

Abu Ayub (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whosoever fasts in Ramadan and then follows it with fasting six days of Shawwal, it is as if he fasts forever.”
 
Eid al-Fitr might be the end of Ramadan, but we should not let this be the end of our fasting, prayer and good deeds. Our Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) teaches us to treat any other month with the same kind of awareness and humility we develop during Ramadan. It is essential that we take our reflections and let them guide us further in life.
May this Ramadan be filled with joy, health and blessings!

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