Zartasht Sami Carmichael and Mubariz Mahmood
Allah the Exalted says in the Holy Qur’an,
‘O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.’(1).
During the year 2020, more than 2 billion Muslims throughout the world, are observing the Holy month of Ramadan by abstaining from food and drink from dusk to sunset. It is shown that religious fasting during the month of Ramadan carries many health benefits(2).
The Centre of Evidence based Medicine in Oxford has suggested that fasting during the Coronavirus pandemic is not contraindicated in healthy individuals(3). It is natural to get dehydrated while fasting, especially if the fast is long such as 14-18 hours. It is important to remain as hydrated as possible, while fasting to minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19(4, 5). Allah the Exalted says in the Holy Quran,
‘Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity’(6)
It is sensible to have a routine to maintain hydration when fasting to maintain a healthy immune system(7).So, what is the best way of keeping ourselves hydrated when we are fasting?
Scientific experiments show that milk is a good beverage to maintain hydration in athletes after demanding exercise(8). Allah the Exalted says in the Holy Qur’an,
‘And surely in the cattle too there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of what is in their bellies, from betwixt the faeces and the blood, milk pure and pleasant for those who drink it.’(9)
The medical science has confirmed these properties of milk by experiments. Milk is considered a complete food as it contains high levels of proteins, carbohydrates, water, and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.(10) Milk, when drunk in the same amount, retains more water in the body, when compared to the same amount of still water. This is called high Beverage Hydration Index (BHI)(11). Milk has a high Beverage Hydration Index because of its protein contents.(12)
Milk provides additional energy, protein, and sodium and is better than traditional sports drinks.(13) Milk may help to minimise the tiredness felt after fasting during Ramadan.(14) Scientific experiments have shown that milk is a particularly good hydration fluid because of its ability to maintain hydration status for up to five hours(15)
This quality of milk-related hydration is important in the month of Ramadan, where the fasting period is continuous lasting 29 to 30 days. The non-fasting hours can be short, and milk may help to maintain the hydration status of the body, before starting the fast the next day.
Therefore, milk is a suitable beverage for rehydration after fasting during the holy month of Ramadan because of its natural qualities.
- Holy Quran with English Translation Chapter 2, Verse 184
- Wei M, Brandhorst S, Shelehchi M, Mirzaei H, Cheng CW, Budniak J, et al. Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Sci Transl Med. 2017 15;9(377).
- Is it safe for patients with COVID-19 to fast in Ramadan? [Internet]. CEBM. [cited 2020 Apr 24]. Available from: https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/is-it-safe-for-patients-with-covid-19-to-fast-in-ramadan/
- Tootee A, Larijani B. Ramadan fasting during Covid-19 pandemic. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2020 Apr 30;1–4.
- Ramadan during COVID-19: What clerics and health experts say [Internet]. [cited 2020 May 5]. Available from: https://gulfnews.com/uae/health/ramadan-during-covid-19-what-clerics-and-health-experts-say-1.1586508552717
- Holy Quran with English Translation Chapter 2, verse 287
- Hosseini Zijoud SR, Jalali Farahani A. Ramadan coincides with the Covid-19 pandemic: What should be done? Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2020 Apr 22;1–4.
- Shirreffs SM, Watson P, Maughan RJ. Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink. Br J Nutr. 2007 Jul;98(1):173–80.
- Holy Quran with English Translation Chapter Chapter 16, verse 67
- James LJ, Stevenson EJ, Rumbold PLS, Hulston CJ. Cow’s milk as a post-exercise recovery drink: implications for performance and health. Eur J Sport Sci. 2019 Feb;19(1):40–8.
- Oliver S. Development of a hydration index: a randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Dec 2;(2):7–7.
- James L. Milk protein and the restoration of fluid balance after exercise. Med Sport Sci. 2012;59:120–6.
- Baguley B, Zilujko J, Leveritt MD, Desbrow B, Irwin C. The Effect of Ad Libitum Consumption of a Milk-Based Liquid Meal Supplement vs. a Traditional Sports Drink on Fluid Balance After Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2016 Aug;26(4):347–55.
- Rankin P, Lawlor MJ, Hills FA, Bell PG, Stevenson EJ, Cockburn E. The effect of milk on recovery from repeat-sprint cycling in female team-sport athletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab Physiol Appl Nutr Metab. 2018 Feb;43(2):113–22.
- Seery S, Jakeman P. A metered intake of milk following exercise and thermal dehydration restores whole-body net fluid balance better than a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution or water in healthy young men. Br J Nutr. 2016;116(6):1013–21.