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UAE: Don’t overeat in Ramadan, warn doctors

2/8/11 www.timesofoman.com

Saleh Al Shaibany

MUSCAT: Overeating is a major health hazard in the month of Ramadan and doctors have urged people to watch out for what they eat so as to avoid ending up in the hospital’s emergency rooms.
“More people suffer health problems during the month of Ramadan than at other times, due to food binging. Those who have high cholesterol risk heart attacks while the ones with higher than normal blood pressure or sugar can suddenly collapse and die,” Dr Ali Al Lawati a heart specialist at Sultan Qaboos Hospital warned.

He said the emergency wards across the country receive 15 per cent more patients than in other months, with food related problems such as poisoning, diarrhoea as well as breathing difficulties and hypertension.

Those who face the highest risks are diabetics and patients with high blood pressure and overeating can be fatal to them, according to another doctor.

“These two categories of diseases (high blood sugar and pressure) are the highest incidents we receive every Ramadan,” Dr Said Al Harthy, told Times of Oman. “They simply cannot resist eating more than what is good for them. However, the warning is not only for vulnerable patients but for healthy people as well. Overrating can cause irreversible damage to the arteries and even cause brain haemorrhage.”

Healthy diet
It is not uncommon for a typical family to pack its dining table with up to 10 different varieties of foods during the Iftar meal (evening meal used to break fast). However, nutritionists advise a healthy diet this Ramadan urging people to reduce their intake of red meat and sugar laden meals.

“In the Ramadan meals, almost every item is cooked in sugar or contains read meat. We notice that people gain about 10 per cent weight and that is a lot for one month. They should reduce sweet and red meat and eat more vegetables and fruits instead. We also advise a two-hour walk after Iftar every evening,” Salah Al Mahdi, a nutritionist at Royal Hospital, said.

He also urged people to cut down on Suhoor meals (food eaten shortly before morning prayers just before the dawn).

“Big Suhoor meal is extremely harmful because people go to bed shortly after that; before the body gets enough time to digest the food. The right Suhoor meal is something light such as cereal and milk or a fruit cocktail. An unhealthy Suhoor meal makes you lazy all day and may give you palpitations,” Al Mahdi added.

Over 150,000 people in Oman suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the Ministry of Health figures. “These are the people who should pay more attention to what they eat this Ramadan, or it will be the last fasting month for them,” warned Dr Al Lawati.

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