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As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, starting around Sunday, March 10 and ending on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 (depending on moon sighting), Muslims in Britain and worldwide are preparing for a period of fasting (sawm), prayer, reflection, and community engagement.

Ramadan holds significant spiritual and religious importance for people and families, as well as an opportunity to focus on health and well-being. While observing the fast, there are ways to prioritise physical and mental health to ensure a fulfilling and enriching experience.

For people living with long-term health issues, whether to fast during Ramadan is a very personal choice.

NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board wants to stress the importance of talking to healthcare professionals about any health worries and the best way to stay healthy while fasting.

Dr Sohail Abbas, Deputy Medical Director for NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, comments, “We want to support our community in planning for a happy and healthy Ramadan. It’s important for people with existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, to talk to healthcare professionals to address any concerns they may have so they can make informed decisions about fasting.”

Dr Waqas Tahir, Clinical Diabetes Lead at West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, adds, “Fasting can also present challenges for people working in healthcare too. Preparation and self-care are essential. Simple steps like taking breaks, staying hydrated, eating well, and incorporating light physical activity can contribute to a successful fasting experience.”

Here are some practical tips for a healthy and successful fast:

  • Take short breaks instead of a lunch break.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during non-fasting hours and avoiding dehydrating beverages like tea and coffee.
  • Maintain a balanced diet to support overall health and well-being.
  • Incorporate light physical activity, such as walking, into your daily routine.
  • Gradually reduce caffeine intake before Ramadan to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Dr Abbas and Dr Tahir added “We wish everyone a happy and healthy Ramadan. By prioritising health and well-being, we can make the most of this sacred time while nurturing spirits, bodies and minds.”